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Weekly Round[s] Up: April 29-May 5, 2024

Welcome back to another Weekly Round[s] Up! This week, I was fortunate to have my son Brian, his wife Kerry and their three kids visiting Washington. They were able to join me at the Capitol on Wednesday morning for breakfast in the Senate Dining Room, a tour of the Capitol and a tour of the Senate floor. They had a fun week of sightseeing in DC, and I was able to join them at the National Archives and Washington Monument in between my meetings, hearings and briefings this week. We were successful in passing unique legislation this week, which I’ll talk about later. More on that and the rest of my week in my Weekly Round[s] Up:

South Dakotans I met with: The South Dakota Snowmobile Association; members of the Independent Community Bankers of South Dakota; Tura Synhorst, a South Dakota member of the American Beverage Association; South Dakota Zero to Three; Brandon Delzer, President of the South Dakota Rural Letter Carriers Association; the South Dakota Telecommunications Association; George Hawkins, South Dakota’s 2024 Teacher of the Year; South Dakota Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) employees; students from Sturgis Brown High School; and South Dakota students participating in the Close Up Foundation’s Native Youth Policy Summit.

Visited with South Dakotans from: Aberdeen, Bison, Brookings, Canton, Chamberlain, Clear Lake, De Smet, Eagle Butte, Freeman, Garretson, Highmore, Huron, Kimball, Kyle, Marty, Mitchell, New Effington, Pierre, Salem, Scotland, Sioux Falls, Sturgis, Vermillion and Wall.

Other meetings: Vice Admiral Rick Cheeseman, Chief of Naval Personnel; Ashish Vazirani, Acting Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness; Roelof Botha, Managing Partner of Sequoia Capital; representatives from Sheppard Air Force Base in Texas; Colonel Robert Newbauer, Commander and District Engineer of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Omaha District; and Alexandr Wang, CEO and founder of Scale AI. I had a phone call with Secretary of Veterans’ Affairs Denis McDonough.

I also attended two events this past week to discuss advancements in artificial intelligence. I moderated a panel titled “Insights on Novel Military Applications of AI” at the Hill & Valley Forum. I attended an AI Impact forum hosted by Punchbowl News, where I had a fireside chat conversation on the promise of AI and the updates in Congress to incentivize innovation, particularly in the health care field and working toward cures for diseases like cancer.

Votes taken: 4 – two of these were on a nomination for a U.S. District Judge in Illinois, the other two were on the Securing Growth and Robust Leadership in American Aviation Act (FAA Reauthorization).

Hearings: I attended three hearings this week. One was in the Select Committee on Intelligence. The second was in the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) where we heard from Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines and Director of Defense Intelligence Agency Jeffrey Kruse. I had the opportunity to ask them about threats posed by the partnership between China and Russia. You can watch a clip of that here. I also attended a Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee hearing to get an update on budget requests for the VA.

Classified briefings: I attended four classified briefings this week: One with SASC’s Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities; one briefing on national security threats at the border; and one with SASC’s Subcommittee on Cybersecurity. I also had a classified briefing to receive updates on the B-21 Raider stealth bomber coming to Ellsworth Air Force Base.

Legislation introduced: Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.) and I introduced the AI Grand Challenges Act, legislation that directs the National Science Foundation (NSF) to establish an AI Grand Challenges Program. Through this, the NSF would administer a $1 million minimum prize for national AI competitions. This would incentivize entrepreneurs to harness artificial intelligence to address measurable challenges to benefit the United States. You can read more about this legislation here.

Legislation passed: This past week, legislation I introduced with Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), the Stop Tax Penalties on American Hostages Act, passed the Senate. This bipartisan legislation would stop the IRS from imposing fines and penalties on American hostages. It also applies to wrongfully held detainees. It now heads to the House of Representatives. You can read more about this bill here.

My staff in South Dakota visited: Aberdeen, Fort Pierre, Murdo, Sioux Falls and Vermillion.

Steps taken this past week: 62,304 steps or 30.83 miles

Photo of the week:

Independent Community Bankers of South Dakota

Independent Community Bankers of South Dakota