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Weekly Round[s] Up: July 17-23, 2023

Welcome back to another Weekly Round[s] Up! We’ve made it to what is scheduled to be our last week in session before our August in-state work period. I say it’s tentative because we never know what might get added to our calendar at the last minute – last summer, we had an all-night vote-a-rama on the reconciliation bill that saw 39 floor votes in less than 24 hours. As we look ahead to this week, here’s a recap of what we did last week:

South Dakota groups I visited with: Chairman Peter Lengkeek of the Crow Creek Sioux Tribe; Tomorrow’s Ag Leaders; South Dakota Corn Growers Association; and students from Sioux Falls Roosevelt High School and Marion High School.

I also had the opportunity to attend an event on the Lower Brule Reservation to commemorate the completion of Phase 1 of their shoreline stabilization project. The Lower Brule Sioux Tribe has dealt with serious shoreline erosion since the completion of the Big Bend Dam in 1964. In FY2020, we acquired $9.3 million through one of our appropriations requests to help complete Phase 1 of this project. This funding helped restore 53 acres of wetland habitat and will help to protect their natural resources for years to come. 

Meetings this past week: Abdulla Al Khalifa, Ambassador of Bahrain to the United States; Reema Bandar Al Saud, Ambassador of Saudi Arabia to the United States; Thomas Kurian, CEO of Google Cloud; Dr. Renee Wegrzyn, Director of the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H); Gen. C.Q. Brown, current Chief of Staff of the Air Force and nominee to be Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Don Graham, former publisher of the Washington Post; and Lt. Gen. Stephen Whiting, Commander of Space Operations Command. This past week, we hosted President Isaac Herzog of Israel to speak at a joint session of Congress.

We also had our weekly Senate Prayer Breakfast, where Senator Alex Padilla of California was our speaker.

Met with South Dakotans from: Brandon, Bridgewater, Britton, Faulkton, Fort Thompson, Gettysburg, Groton, Hamill, Harrisburg, Herreid, Kimball, Madison, Marion, Miller, Mitchell, Oldham, Pierre, Redfield, Revillo, Selby, Sioux Falls and Watertown. 

Topics discussed: The upcoming Farm Bill, funding for our military programs and the United States’ relationship with Israel. 

Votes taken: 9 – Many of these were on amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for this fiscal year. We’re anticipating many more votes on amendments to the NDAA this week, hopefully ultimately passing this annual, bipartisan legislation by the end of the week.

Hearings: 4 – I had one hearing in the Select Committee on Intelligence, one in the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) and one in the Senate Banking Committee. We had one hearing in the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, where we heard from the leaders of two tribes in South Dakota: President Frank Star Comes Out of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and Chairman Ryman LeBeau of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe.

Classified briefings: 4 – I had one classified briefing with SASC’s Strategic Forces Subcommittee and one with the Select Committee on Intelligence. I also had our bi-weekly cyber education seminar and a classified meeting with Susanna Blume, DOD’s Director of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation. 

My staff in South Dakota visited: Belle Fourche, Brant Lake, Britton, Chester, Madison, North Sioux City, Rapid City, Sioux Falls, Sisseton, Spearfish and Watertown.

Steps taken this week: 39,246 steps or 18.29 miles

Video of the Week: As mentioned, we had two tribal leaders from South Dakota testifying on behalf of a bill I’ve introduced with Senator Thune, the Wounded Knee Massacre Memorial and Sacred Site Act. You can watch a clip of their opening statements and my questions here: