Skip to content

Weekly Round[s] Up: March 13-19, 2023

We’ve crossed the halfway point of our five week work period in Washington. Hard to believe that Easter is almost here. Time flies when you’re having fun, or working hard – sometimes both! As a member of the Senate Banking Committee, this past week was particularly busy as we learned more about the collapse of the Silicon Valley Bank. If you’re interested in hearing my thoughts on this situation, you can watch the video of my appearance on Meet the Press below. The war in Ukraine was also a topic of conversation this past week and will continue to be with my roles on the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Select Committee on Intelligence. But, we also continue to discuss issues happening here at home, like record-high inflation and a broken border. All that and much more in my Weekly Round[s] Up:

South Dakota groups I visited with: Brian Bird, President and CEO of Northwestern Energy; members of the Mid-West Electric Consumers Association; and Patrick Dame, Executive Director of the Rapid City Regional Airport.

Meetings this past week: General Michael Langley, Commander of U.S. Africa Command; Michel Khalaf, CEO of MetLife; Georgia Quinn, General Counsel at Anchorage Digital; Lt. Gen. Michael A. Loh, Director of the Air National Guard; and Dr. Craig Martell, Chief Digital and AI Officer at the Department of Defense. I also had a briefing regarding the Western Sahara from the Council on Foreign Relations. 

I spoke at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Institute’s National Security Innovation Base Summit. Our Fireside Chat centered on our nation’s national security threats and opportunities. Additionally, I was asked about the United States drone that was forced down by Russia over the Black Sea. My candid response grabbed some headlines. People in Washington are surprised when you tell it like it is. You can watch our entire discussion here.

We also had our Senate Prayer Breakfast (Senator Eric Schmitt from Missouri was our speaker).

Met with South Dakotans from: Madison, Rapid City, Sioux Falls and Watertown.

Topics discussed: Energy production in South Dakota, inflation’s impact on grocery prices, the Silicon Valley Bank collapse and the crisis on our southern border.

Legislation introduced: This past week, I reintroduced my Security to Avoid Violence in Educational Settings (SAVES) Act. The SAVES Act would redirect $500 million in funding over five years to create grants for local K-12 schools and school systems to spend to enhance their school safety. This grant program would not cost any additional taxpayer money. It would instead transfer funding appropriated in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act for energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements at public school facilities. The redirecting of funds would allow schools to access metal detectors and school security officers rather than providing solar panels at schools. You can read more about the SAVES Act here.

In addition, I teamed up with a bipartisan group of colleagues to reintroduce the Consumer and Fuel Retailer Choice Act. This legislation would allow year-round sale of ethanol blends higher than 10 percent across the entire nation. You can read more about it here.

Letters sent: This week, my colleague Senator Joe Manchin from West Virginia and I led a bipartisan group of senators in urging Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Ur Jaddou to reconsider plans that would dramatically increase the fees businesses pay for H-2A and H-2B nonimmigrant work visas. These temporary visas are crucial for helping small businesses across South Dakota meet consumer demand during the ongoing and severe labor shortage. In January, DHS proposed increasing application fees charged by USCIS for employment-based and other non-immigrant visas, resulting in an average increase of 266 percent. This change would have a devastating impact on many small businesses who utilize the H-2A and H-2B temporary work visa programs to make up for the worker shortage in South Dakota. (The unemployment rate in South Dakota is currently at 2.1 percent.) You can learn more about our efforts here.

Votes taken: 10 – we voted on several nominees this week, including Eric Garcetti, former mayor of Los Angeles, to be the United States Ambassador to India. I voted against his confirmation. Mr. Garcetti’s nomination was called into question due to allegations that as mayor, he was aware of and ignored sexual harassment activity in the workplace.

Hearings: I attended three hearings this week. One was a Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) hearing with Commanders of U.S. Central Command and U.S. Africa Command. One was a classified briefing in the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. I also had a hearing to discuss the U.S. Space Force in our SASC Subcommittee on Strategic Forces.

Classified briefings: I had one classified SASC Strategic Forces Subcommittee briefing on electronic warfare.

My staff in South Dakota visited: Aberdeen, Huron and Wall.

Steps taken this week: 54,898 steps or 25.11 miles.

Video of the Week: This past Sunday, I joined Meet the Press with Chuck Todd. We discussed the state of the financial services sector after the Silicon Valley Bank collapse and our country’s role in responding to Russian aggression in Ukraine. You can watch the video below.