Weekly Column


Flooding Remains a Concern for South Dakota Communities

South Dakota residents continue to share with me their concerns about flooding and high water levels in many of our rivers and lakes. My team and I are keeping a close watch on the Corps' management of the Missouri River, and the rivers that feed into the Missouri including the James and the Big Sioux. This is especially important as major rain and snow events continue to wreak havoc in South Dakota and across the plains, causing significant flooding throughout the region. I am speakin… Continue Reading


Green New Deal is a Bad Deal for South Dakota

The Green New Deal is an extreme proposal introduced earlier this year by a number of our Democrat colleagues in a misguided attempt to reduce carbon emissions. It would require the U.S. to switch to 100 percent renewable energy within 10 years and would dramatically change nearly every aspect of our lives-from how we consume and produce energy to how we use transportation to how farmers manage their crops and raise livestock. It will also cost roughly $93 trillion over the next ten years. That … Continue Reading


B-21 Announcement Solidifies Ellsworth’s Role in our Long-Term Defense Strategy

This week, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson announced that Ellsworth Air Force Base will be home to the B-21 Formal Training Unit and be the first base to receive an operational squadron of B-21 Raiders, which are the next-generation stealth bombers. This is great news for South Dakota and our national defense. It reaffirms the vital role Ellsworth will play in our defense strategy for years - if not generations - to come. The B-21s are currently being developed as part of the Air Force's … Continue Reading


Obamacare Costs Continue to Put Financial Strain on South Dakota Families

This month marks the 9th anniversary of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, being signed into law. Nine years is a long time for the millions of Americans who have been adversely affected by this failed law through higher premiums, fewer options and loss of health care all together. South Dakotans continue to contact me to share their stories about how Obamacare is just too expensive. For some of them, their health insurance premiums cost more than their mortgage payments. The American people… Continue Reading


National Emergency Declaration: A Primer

Congress and the administration have been in a months-long debate over border barrier funding. In fact, it was this debate that led to the longest partial government shutdown in our history. The shutdown ended in February after Congress passed a funding bill that allotted $1.4 billion to fund physical barriers along our southern border. This will pay for approximately 55 miles of new barriers. That amount was far short of President Trump's $5.7 billion request, so he declared a national emergen… Continue Reading


Tourism in South Dakota Continues to Grow

With the frigid temperatures and heavy snow we're experiencing, it's hard to believe that spring is just around the corner. But before long, we'll be seeing green grass in our lawns again, farmers will be planting crops and tourists from across the world will flock to South Dakota to experience our many attractions. Tourism is a vital part of our economy- number two only to agriculture. Last year alone, tourism supported more than 54,000 jobs and generated nearly $300 million in tax revenue. Wh… Continue Reading


South Dakota Leads the Way in Career and Technical Education

Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs provide students with the academic and technical training necessary to work in specific jobs such as a trade or craft. This includes programs such as welding, ranch management, dental assisting, bookkeeping, telecommunications, web programing and automotive technology. The Senate recently passed a resolution to highlight the importance of CTE programs across the nation. In South Dakota, we are home to four high-caliber technical institutions that… Continue Reading


Nominating South Dakota’s Best and Brightest Students to our Nation’s Service Academies

Each year, I have the opportunity to nominate students from our state to our nation's service academies. Four of the academies require a nomination: the Military Academy at West Point, the Naval Academy, the Air Force Academy and the Merchant Marine Academy. Nominations are not required for the U.S. Coast Guard Academy. In 2018, I was able to nominate 27 South Dakotans to the various academies. The U.S. service academies are among the most elite educational institutions in the world. The y… Continue Reading


Indian Health Service Continues to Let Down Tribal Members

Tribal members have been in the midst of a government-induced health care crisis for decades due to poor leadership and mismanagement at the Indian Health Service (IHS). For far too long, tribal members who rely on IHS for health care have faced unimaginable horrors. Troubling reports from a number of IHS facilities have found gross mismanagement, dirty medical equipment, broken sanitizers and blatant corruption. In one outrageous case, a woman gave birth to her baby on a bathroom floor with no … Continue Reading


As Americans, More Unites Us Than Divides Us

President Trump recently delivered his annual State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress. Our Constitution requires the president to provide Congress with an update on the state of our union each year. Throughout our history, some presidents have opted to deliver their messages in person and others have sent in written messages. However, for the past 100 years, it has become the norm for presidents to deliver the message in person. I appreciated hearing from President Trump about … Continue Reading


USS South Dakota is Navy’s Newest Nuclear Submarine

USS South Dakota (SSN 790) is the Navy's newest nuclear submarine, commissioned on Feb. 2, 2019. It is the 17th Virginia-class attack submarine to join the fleet. It was a true honor to be a part of the commissioning event. USS South Dakota will play an important role in the mission of our sailors, and it will also serve as a new symbolic link between our state and the Navy. According to the U.S. Navy, it has been designed to fulfill the seven core competencies of the submarine force: anti-s… Continue Reading


With Record Low Unemployment, South Dakota’s Workforce Needs H-2B Visa Workers

The national unemployment rate is at the lowest levels since 1969. In South Dakota, we have an unemployment rate of 2.9 percent, which is one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation. This is certainly something to be celebrated, but it also means our industries that rely on seasonal and temporary work have to seek outside workers when necessary. This is especially true for the tourism and construction industries, which will be seeking extra help from the springtime to early fall. One … Continue Reading


Corn Ethanol Production Plays Important Role in South Dakota’s Economy

Corn and corn ethanol production are vital components of South Dakota's economy. The corn ethanol industry supports thousands of jobs in our state and contributes a significant amount of revenue to our local communities. Corn ethanol has taken a hit in recent years, due in part to the high number of waivers issued by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to small refineries. This has reduced the amount of ethanol required by the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), thus reducing the demand for cor… Continue Reading


Cybersecurity Remains Top Priority in 116th Congress

As we get to work in the 116th Congress, increasing our nation's ability to defend against cyberattacks remains a top priority in the Senate. During the last congress, I had the privilege to serve as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, first established in 2017 by the late Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.). The creation of this subcommittee marked the first time in our nation's history that a congressional committee or subcommi… Continue Reading


Fixing Appropriations Process Must Be Top Priority in 2019

The American people expect results from the people they elect to Congress. This includes getting our appropriations work done on time. When we don't finalize the bills to fund the government before the end of the fiscal year, it becomes easier for different factions in the House and Senate to force a shutdown of the government over certain issues. This is what has happened with the current partial government shutdown over border security spending. While the majority of government services was fu… Continue Reading


Wrapping up 2018

As we wrap up the year, I'm pleased that we've been able to take steps to make Washington work a little better for all of us who live in South Dakota. We used the Congressional Review Act to roll back a total of 16 heavy-handed, Obama-era regulations that were hindering small businesses, farms, ranches and banks from reaching their full potential. The Trump administration has taken actions to stop or dismantle approximately 2000 federal regulations, which has saved Americans at least $50 billio… Continue Reading


Free to Celebrate the Holidays Thanks to the Men and Women in Uniform

This holiday season, Jean and I wish all South Dakotans a very merry Christmas and happy New Year. It's a good time of the year to spend with family and friends, participating in traditions and making memories that will last a lifetime. Some of our family's favorite traditions are from Christmas, which we are now passing down to our grandkids. We look forward to introducing our traditions to our youngest grandchild, Maverick Michael Rounds, who was born earlier this year. Nearly every year, our… Continue Reading


Five-Year Farm Bill Will Provide Certainty, Stability to South Dakota Ag Community

After months of negotiations, Congress recently passed a five-year farm bill with strong bipartisan support. This vital piece of legislation will provide certainty for farmers and ranchers across the country, and especially in South Dakota where our state's economy depends on agriculture. With more than 31,500 farms across the state, South Dakota ranks in the top 10 for ag production, providing a $21 billion dollar impact on our economy annually. With net farm income down 50 percent in the p… Continue Reading


Remembering a Great American

Across the country, Americans are mourning the loss of President George H. W. Bush, the 41st president of the United States, who passed away on Nov. 30, 2018, at age 94. President Bush was an extraordinary man who exemplified everyday American values: faith, family and country. He married Barbara Pierce after World War II and together they had six children: George, Robin, Jeb, Neil, Marvin and Dorothy. He and Barbara were married for 73 years when she passed away in April of this year. Pres… Continue Reading


Tax Reform Continues to Benefit American Families and Businesses One Year Later

Since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was signed into law almost one year ago, more than 2 million jobs have been created, unemployment is at the lowest level since 1969, incomes continue to rise and our economy is strong. It has led to more jobs, bigger paychecks and a fairer tax system, especially for lower-and-middle-income Americans. The law lowered the tax rates in every income bracket, allowing all South Dakota families to keep more of their hard-earned paychecks. It also doubled the child t… Continue Reading

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