Weekly Round[s] Up: January 23-29, 2023
Hello from Washington, DC! After our in-state work period, we finally had our first full week of the 118th Congress. We are still waiting for our committee assignments, meaning that hearings and votes have been pretty slow. We certainly aren’t letting that stop us, however, from meeting with South Dakotans and hitting the ground running on our policy priorities for the next two years. Here’s my Weekly Round[s] Up:
South Dakota groups I visited with: I met with members of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and the Oglala Lakota Housing Authority. I also had the opportunity to visit with a few students from Lincoln High School in Sioux Falls who were visiting Washington this past week.
Meetings this past week: Meeting with the Republican members of the Senate Armed Services Committee; Rob Nichols, President of the American Bankers Association; Alex Wang, CEO of Scale AI; LTG Andrew Rohling, Deputy Commanding General of United States Army Europe-Africa; Yousef Al Otaiba, the United Arab Emirates’ Ambassador to the United States; and Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI. You might be familiar with OpenAI’s product ChatGPT, which has made the news quite a bit lately.
We also had our weekly Senate Bible Study (James 4:10 was our verse of the week) and Senate Prayer Breakfast (Senator Marsha Blackburn from Tennessee was our speaker).
Met with South Dakotans from: Pine Ridge and Sioux Falls.
Topics discussed: Artificial Intelligence’s present and rising role in our world, housing challenges and opportunities on the Pine Ridge Reservation, and priorities for the upcoming Congress. I also had the opportunity to speak on CSPAN’s Washington Journal last Thursday morning about the conflict in Ukraine. If you’re interested, you can watch the video here.
Votes taken: 2 – One of these was on the nomination of Brendan Owens to the Department of Defense as Assistant Secretary for Energy, Installations, and Environment. I voted yes.
Hearings: Hearings were pretty light this week given that we have yet to receive our committee assignments for the 118th Congress! We had one hearing this week in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee titled “Countering Russian Aggression: Ukraine and Beyond.”
Classified briefings: I had one classified briefing with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
My staff in South Dakota visited: Aberdeen and Sioux Falls.
In Case You Missed It: During our in-state work period, I sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) urging the leader to schedule a vote on the Family and Small Business Taxpayer Protection Act, H.R. 23. This legislation, which passed the House of Representatives on January 9, 2023, would stop the hiring of 87,000 new IRS agents and auditors which would make the IRS a larger employer than the Pentagon, State Department, FBI and Border Patrol combined. Additionally, it would return over $71 billion to American taxpayers over a ten-year period and provide immediate relief from costly IRS audits to everyday American families who are already constrained by record inflation.
Steps taken this past week: 45,736 steps or 21.44 miles.
Photo of the Week: South Dakota native and retired U.S. Navy Captain E. Royce Williams recently received the Navy Cross from the Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro. My office worked with the Navy to properly recognize Capt. Williams with an upgrade of his previously-awarded Silver Star Medal, which he received for his service during the Korean War. Captain Williams is a real life Top Gun. On November 18, 1952, then-Lieutenant Williams led three F9F Panthers against seven Soviet MiG-15s, which according to the U.S. Naval Institute, were “superior to the F9F in almost every fashion.” His mission, which was the only direct overwater combat between U.S. Navy fighters and Soviet fighters during the Cold War, led to the protection of Task Force 77 from enemy attack. You can read more about Capt. Williams in this story from KOTA TV.
Additionally, my office assists veterans and their families with lost or overdue military awards. The contact information for each office can be found at https://www.rounds.senate.gov/contact/office-locations.