Weekly Round[s] Up: February 6-12, 2023
Another week has come and gone out here in Washington. One thing about my job in the Senate, which I’m sure you’ve noticed if you read these regularly, is that no two weeks are ever the same. There are always new people coming in and out, new problems to solve and new ideas for how to address these problems. This past week we had our annual Senate Republican Conference Retreat, and a new Congress meant we attended the annual State of the Union. I have more thoughts on that below! Here’s my Weekly Round[s] Up:
Meetings this past week: Senate Armed Services Committee meeting; and Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). I also attended bible study as a guest this past week with the Republican Governors Association at their first organizational meeting.
Since there were no committee hearings or floor votes on Wednesday, we spent the day at a Senate Republican Conference Retreat. All 49 Republican Senators gathered to discuss our priorities for the upcoming Congress, including our legislative priorities like the Farm Bill and the National Defense Authorization Act. We also heard from multiple speakers, including Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy. As senators, we spend most of our days in Washington, D.C. going from meetings, to hearings, to floor votes, to whatever else is on our schedules for that day. It’s nice to be able to spend a whole work day together uninterrupted to really dive into the issues that are important to us and how to address them through our roles in the Senate.
State of the Union: President Biden gave his annual State of the Union speech on Tuesday evening. Each year, the president gives an address to a joint session of Congress, typically to report on the state of our nation in terms of the economy or budget, but more often to push their political agenda, which is what happened this past week. While Republicans agreed with some of what the President said, such as funding research for cancer and other diseases, reining in big tech companies and protecting data privacy for minors, there was a whole lot of it that we did not agree with. The President glossed over some of the real issues that are happening in our country, including out-of-control inflation, the crisis at our Southern Border and our increasingly tense relationship with China. It’s important that we hear from the president “from time to time,” as required by Article II, Section 3 of our Constitution, but I had hoped to hear him confront our problems and share solutions, instead of pretending they don’t exist.
Immediately after the State of the Union, I joined Brian Allen on Dakota News Now to discuss my thoughts. You can listen to our conversation here.
Topics discussed: Housing needs ahead of the B-21 Raider stealth bomber’s arrival at Ellsworth, priorities for the upcoming Congress and the Chinese surveillance balloon.
Subcommittee assignments: Two of my committees – Armed Services and Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs – have several subcommittees within them to address more specific issues. This past week, I received my subcommittee assignments. I was also named the top Republican, or ranking member, on two of them:
- Subcommittee on Cybersecurity, Ranking Member
- Subcommittee on Personnel
- Subcommittee on Strategic Forces
- Subcommittee on Securities, Insurance, and Investment, Ranking Member
- Subcommittee on Economic Policy
- Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation, and Community Development
Votes taken: 2 – Both of these were on nominations of federal judges.
Hearings: We had one hearing in the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs committee on the State of Housing for 2023. This was Senator Tim Scott’s first hearing as Ranking Member of our committee.
Classified briefings: We had a classified briefing on the Chinese surveillance balloon that flew over the continental United States earlier this month. We also had a classified briefing with the Intelligence Committee on this topic. While we are continuing to learn more information, there are still more questions than answers.
My staff in South Dakota visited: Aberdeen, Milbank, Sioux Falls, Tea, Viborg, Watertown and Webster.
Steps taken this week: 60,789 steps or 28.47 miles. I didn’t make it back to South Dakota this week, which is unusual. I attended an unofficial event in Florida on Friday and Saturday, but I returned back to DC in time to make 5:00 mass. I walked there, which added a few steps to my total! Still caught the Super Bowl kick-off, too!
Video of the Week: I joined Jake Tapper on CNN’s Sunday Show to discuss potential reforms to the Social Security system. I believe any solution to make Social Security viable long-term must protect retirees currently receiving benefits, and those who are counting on those benefits in the next several decades. Many of America’s seniors depend on Social Security when they retire. However, as the baby-boomer generation is reaching retirement age, benefits are threatened due to falling revenues and higher overall program costs. As with any federal program, Social Security has room for improvement. You can watch our full conversation by clicking below.