Weekly Windup

September 25, 2020
Weekly Column

Back in Session

This year has been far from normal. But over the last few weeks Congress has been back in session, and the pace seems to be picking up again. Last week, I unveiled a bipartisan pathway for another COVID-19 relief bill, and this week, the House has been focused on passing a number of tribal bills as well as a bill to keep our government open through the election.

I was proud to speak on the House floor in support of my own bill that passed the House this week – unanimously. The Tribal School Federal Insurance Parity Act will divert millions back to tribal students’ education. For ten years, leaders have tried to bring parity to tribal grant schools’ benefits program, and I’m grateful for the input tribal members gave me along the way to ensure this got done. The House also passed the Savanna’s Act, and as a co-sponsor of this bill and a representative for a state with a large tribal population, I was proud to see legislation to combat the startling number of missing and murdered indigenous women pass unanimously.

The House also managed to pass a government spending bill that funds the government through December 11. There was a lot of debate about this “Continuing Resolution.” Initially, funding for critical agriculture programs weren’t included in the bill. Republicans and many rural Democrats told Speaker Pelosi this was a non-starter – this important funding for agriculture was included in the final version of the bill. 

Headed to the floor

Thomas Jefferson said, if he had to choose, he would prefer newspapers without government, over government without newspapers. That is a dramatic statement, but I think it highlights how critical journalism is to holding government accountable. Every good reporter has faced the wrath of a wronged politician and has had disgruntled readers or listeners cancel their patronage. In politics, it is tempting to be among the disgruntled, but if we want a free society, we have to support a free press. One whose loyalty is not to partisan endeavors or to stoking division and conflict, but rather, is to the truth. That is why I headed to the floor this week to highlight how “Democracy Demands Journalism.” Watch here

Back to Business

Back in session means congressional hearings continued. I participated in two hearings this week. One on the National Apprenticeship Act and another on the 2020 wildfires.

In the Education and Labor Committee’s hearing on the National Apprenticeship Act, I offered an amendment that would streamline the process of what’s considered a “registered apprenticeship” through the Department of Labor (DOL). Right now, it’s extremely difficult to add an occupation to DOL’s list. This amendment was bipartisan and was adopted by my colleagues on the Committee.

During the Agriculture Committee’s Forestry Subcommittee hearing, I spoke on the need for proactive forest management and follow through of forest service projects – so many of them don’t make it through implementation. South Dakota continues to see a decline in forest fires because of timber sales and tree thinning, and I was proud to highlight our successes. A managed forest is a healthy forest. 

Congress will be back in session next week and there's a possibility we will be discussing a COVID-19 relief bill with a price tag of $2.4 trillion. Stay tuned…