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Weekly Round[s] Up: April 15-24, 2024

The last few weeks have been very busy here in DC! I was very fortunate to see many South Dakotans from all across the state. We had good discussions on tribal relations, research projects happening in South Dakota, health care, small businesses and more. The Senate also had some pretty big votes this week on impeachment articles for Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas, the reauthorization of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the supplemental aid package that provides funding for Ukraine, Israel and Indo-Pacific. More on those later. Here’s my Weekly Round[s] Up: 

South Dakotans I met with: Brian Bird, President and CEO of Northwestern Energy; Students from Spearfish High School; Jim Dover, CEO of Avera Health; Members of the South Dakota Association of Healthcare Organizations; Mike Headley, Director of the Sanford Underground Research Facility; Becky Dewitz, CEO of the Great Plains Zoo; Kellie Wasko, Secretary of the South Dakota Department of Corrections; Members of the South Dakota Emergency Nurses Association; South Dakota representatives with Growth Energy; Members of the National Community Pharmacists Association; Leaders from the South Dakota Cattlemen’s Association; and J. Garret Renville, Chairman of Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate.

Visited with South Dakotans from: Amherst, Baltic, Fort Pierre, Hot Springs, Lead, Mitchell, North Sioux City, Pierre, Sioux Falls, Sisseton and Spearfish.

Other meetings: Lieutenant General Michael Plehn, President of National Defense University; General Thomas Bussiere, Commander of the Air Force Global Strike Command; Lia Merminga, Director of Fermilab; Wab Kinew, Premier of Manitoba, Canada; Members of the French Parliament; Jerome Powell, Chairman of the Federal Reserve; Students from National Defense University; and Sabri Boukadoum, Algeria’s Minister of Foreign Affairs. I also spoke about artificial intelligence at an event hosted by the American Consumer & Investor Institute.

Votes taken: 30 – I usually include the most notable vote in this section, but there were several big votes this past week. Here’s a quick recap of those:

As you may recall, a few months ago, the House voted to impeach Alejandro Mayorkas, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. The articles of impeachment finally came to the Senate last week. As expected, every Senate Democrat voted to dismiss these articles of impeachment before even hearing any evidence. This sets a dangerous precedent for the Senate, as it’s the first time the Senate has voted to dismiss articles of impeachment without hearing evidence. I voted in favor of having a trial.

We also voted to reauthorize the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, more commonly known as FISA. FISA helps us gather intelligence on foreign intelligence targets operating outside of the United States. I voted to reauthorize FISA for two years.

We voted on H.R.815, otherwise known as the National Security Act. The bill passed 79-18 with strong bipartisan support. It includes $26.4B for Israel and humanitarian aid, $60.8B for Ukraine and $8.13B for the Indo-Pacific theater to deter Chinese aggression. The bill also includes a provision that requires TikTok to divest from their Chinese-owned parent company in nine months or the app will be banned.  Finally, this bill includes several sanctions on Iran terrorist activities and Mexican drug cartels trafficking fentanyl.

The United States Senate reaffirmed our leadership role in the world and sent a powerful message that we are not backing away from our role as a leader of the free world.

Hearings: Five. I attended one hearing in the Select Committee on Intelligence, and one in the Senate Banking Committee. In Banking, I questioned the United States Acting Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Adrienne Todman on burdensome red tape that is getting in the way of Americans being able to afford housing. You can watch a clip of that here.

We had another week full of Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) hearings:

  • In our first hearing from the week, we heard from leadership with the United States Air Force, including Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall on the developments of the B-21 Raider stealth bomber. The first two squadrons of B-21s will be at Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota.
  • On Wednesday, Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm was in front of Armed Services, where I had the opportunity to ask her about Department of Energy projects happening at the Sanford Underground Research Facility near Lead. You can watch a clip of that here.
  • On Thursday, we heard from Christine Wormuth, Secretary of the Army and General Randy George, Chief of Staff of the Army. I questioned them on America’s counter drone capability especially as attacks in the Middle East ramp up. You can watch a clip of that here.

Classified briefings: I had one classified briefing with the Armed Services’ Subcommittee on Strategic Forces.

My staff in South Dakota visited: Andover, Brookings, Eureka, Hot Springs, Mellette, Pine Ridge, Rapid City, Sioux Falls, Sturgis and Vermillion.

Steps taken this past week: 51,405 steps or 25.15 miles.