Weekly Round[s] Up: May 29-June 4, 2023
We had a crazy week out here to welcome us back to DC after our Memorial Day in-state work period. As I’m sure you’ve heard by now, much of our time was spent waiting on a debt ceiling vote in the House. It ultimately came to the Senate floor on Thursday, where we voted on a series of amendments before passing the bill just before midnight. More on that vote later. In the moments between, we stayed busy with our usual meetings, hearings and reading all 99 pages of the Fiscal Responsibility Act and each amendment proposed. All that and more in my Weekly Round[s] Up:
South Dakota groups I visited with: Students from Brandon Valley High School who were visiting DC this past week and Dr. Barbara Szczerbinska, who serves on the board of the Sanford Underground Research Facility (SURF) in Lead.
I also had the opportunity to welcome a group of South Dakota veterans to DC this past Wednesday morning. All 83 veterans on board were part of a Midwest Honor Flight and were visiting Washington for the day to see the memorials that honor and recognize their service to our country.
Meetings this past week: Christine Abizaid, Director of the National Counterterrorism Center; Alex Karp, CEO of Palantir; Jerome Powell, Chairman of the Federal Reserve; Dr. Christopher Scolese, Director of the National Reconnaissance Office; Bryan Palma, CEO of Trellix; and Dr. Robert Soofer, Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense.
Topics discussed: National security, SURF’s research in South Dakota and developments in the AI field.
Votes taken: 14 – Almost all of these were related to the debt limit deal, including 11 amendments that we voted on in rapid succession before passing the final bill on Thursday evening. I voted yes to pass this bill.
The Fiscal Responsibility Act is far from perfect. Neither side in the negotiation got exactly what they wanted. However, it’s important to note that this final agreement is a result of divided government. Unlike last Congress, with a Democrat majority in both the House and the Senate and a Democrat president, we now have a Republican majority in the House. This means that the President had to negotiate with Speaker McCarthy and ultimately make concessions on what otherwise would likely have been a “clean” raise of the debt ceiling – allowing our country to spend more money without cutting any spending in return.
Hearings: Two – I had one hearing in the Select Committee on Intelligence and one in the Banking committee.
Legislation introduced: I reintroduced the Veterans Health Care Freedom Act with Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) this past week. This legislation would allow veterans enrolled in the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) health system to receive care through a local community provider. You can read more about the specific provisions of this legislation here.
My staff in South Dakota visited: Aberdeen, Brookings, Sioux Falls, Vermillion and Yankton.
Steps taken this week: 58,871 steps or 27.11 miles.
Video of the Week: As we discussed the debt ceiling bill last week, I spoke on the Senate floor about the need for adequate defense funding in the final deal. We were able to get Senate leadership to agree to commit to bringing forward all appropriations bills to the full Senate, and a supplemental bill to allow for additional funding for our men and women in uniform. You can watch the full clip here: