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Weekly Round[s] Up: February 26-March 3, 2024

Welcome back to another edition of the Weekly Round[s] Up! The Senate is back in session in Washington after a two-week in-state work period around Presidents’ Day. During my time back in South Dakota, I was able to visit Pierre, Rapid City, Sioux Falls, Yankton and Winner. I hosted four Vietnam Veteran Lapel Pin ceremonies, where I presented these pins to 211 Vietnam era veterans from across the state. I also visited with several South Dakota groups, including the Winner Rotary Club, South Dakota Bankers Association and the South Dakota State Legislature caucuses. Here’s my Weekly Round[s] Up:

South Dakotans I met with: South Dakota leaders with Missouri River Energy Services; members of the American Legion Department of South Dakota; members of the South Dakota National Guard Enlisted Association; South Dakota members of the American Institute of Architects; Dr. Edward Duke and Dr. Mel Ustad with SDEPSCoR; the South Dakota Civil Air Patrol; and Dr. Julie Thorstenson, Executive Director of the Native American Fish and Wildlife Society.

Visited with South Dakotans from: Brookings, Chester, Crooks, Fort Pierre, Garretson, Lantry, Madison, Milbank, Pierre, Piedmont, Rapid City, Sioux Falls, Sisseton, Spearfish, Vermillion and Watertown.

Other meetings: General Jacqueline Van Ovost, Commander of U.S. Transportation Command; General Anthony Cotton, Commander of U.S. Strategic Command; and General C.Q. Brown, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. I spoke to several groups about advancements in artificial intelligence this week, including Wellmark Blue Cross & Blue Shield’s Board of Directors and Executive Leadership, a FinTech Symposium and an AI event hosted by Axios. I also had Senate Bible Study, where we studied Jude 3.

Votes taken: 19 – most notable was our vote on the latest continuing resolution to keep the government open and funded past the previous deadlines of March 1 and March 8. The new staggered deadlines for government funding are March 8 and March 22.

As you may remember from my previous Round[s] Ups, the appropriations process consists of 12 bills that each fund a different area of the federal government. Staggering the shutdown dates means that funding for six of these bills expires on one date, and funding for the other six expires on the other date. Think of it as having a homework assignment in two parts, with different due dates for each part. The key difference here is that I don’t think any teacher would give you as many extensions as we give ourselves out here in Washington! This week, we are expected to vote on a bill that funds the first half of the assignment through the end of the fiscal year. This bill includes critical funding for water and transportation projects in South Dakota. In total, these projects, which I requested amount to over $100 million that will directly benefit South Dakota.

Hearings: I attended four hearings this week: two in the Select Committee on Intelligence and two in the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC).

Classified briefings: I had three classified briefings this week all related to my work on SASC. One was a full committee briefing. The other two were related to my work on two different SASC subcommittees: the Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee and the Strategic Forces Subcommittee.

Legislation introduced: This past week, I introduced the Timber Harvesting Restoration Act, legislation that would require the United States Forest Service to improve timber sales numbers in the Black Hills National Forest. You can read more about this legislation here.

Tribal Law Enforcement: In the last two years, tribal leaders on the Great Plains have reported a significant increase in violent and drug-related crime. Law enforcement leaders in Indian Country directly attribute the recent uptick in crime to police personnel shortages. My colleague Senator John Thune and I sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office requesting information on tribal law enforcement funding and its correlation with surges in crime on reservations. You can read more about this letter here.

My staff in South Dakota visited: Howard, Newell, Pierre, Platte, Spearfish and St. Onge.

Steps taken this past week: 52,054 steps or 26.07 miles

Video of the week: I joined ABC’s This Week on Sunday to discuss the Senate Republican Leadership elections:

ABC This Week Interview Video Thumbnail