Newly re-elected Republican House Representative Kristi Noem, the lone representative for South Dakota, spoke to the Watertown Rotary Club Thursday afternoon giving updates on what is going on in Washington and taking questions from club members.

Noem started her presentation by addressing one of the hottest issues in the country, the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, aka the “fiscal cliff bill.” Noem mentioned that “we have more consequential votes coming in the next three months than Congress has voted on in 50 years.”

“When I looked at that situation coming for the last year, I could see that this was Congresses own doing. It was voted on by Congresses before me,” Noem said. “We felt that right now is not the time to be raising taxes, for anybody.”

“I think that we in Washington, D.C. have got a spending problem, and we’ve gotta change the way we spend people’s money, it’s not the government’s money, it’s the people’s money. If you look at that bill and what it did, it prevented President Obama from getting another $4 trillion to spend however he wanted for the next four years. I could not see voting ‘no’ against that bill that would reach into taxpayers’ pockets and take out another $4 trillion for him to continue spending how he is now. This bill protected 99 percent of South Dakotans here and protected 98 percent of small businesses and it is permanent. It locked in tax rates; we will never have to have these talks again.”

“In a month and a half, we’re going to have to deal with the debt ceiling,” Noem continued on by saying. “And that debt ceiling vote, the president has already said that he wants to raise the debt ceiling without any spending cuts whatsoever. So we know that is going to be a lot of discussion and a lot of conversation on how to really get the reforms we need to keep this debt from accumulating.”

Representative Noem also mentioned that gun control is going to be a big issue looking forward.

Before the Rotary Club adjourned its meeting, Noem opened the floor to questions.

Rotary member Charlie Larkin asked Noem, “Rumor on the street is that the president is going to move such gun control through ‘executive order.’ Is that legal? And he may also raise the debt ceiling through that also.”

“You know, no, it’s not legal,” Noem responded. “He has no authority to raise the debt ceiling, only Congress can do that. So if he does do that, I believe he would be doing it without the authority to do it. We can try to hold him accountable for that, we in the House can certainly take some actions and hearings. Really who needs to hold him accountable is the Senate, and that hasn’t been happening in the last couple of years in terms of executive orders.”

Rotary member Herb Wiswall inquired, “Can you comment on the status of the Farm Bill? Specifically what you did for the long-term future and CRP?”

“In this bill we voted on last week was an extension of the Farm Bill. Which is good, but what was sad about it is the fact we put together a five-year bill in the House that had reforms to it, that had cost savings to it. It made sure that the nutrition side of it, or 80 percent of it, the nutrition programs, that the dollars went to people who actually needed it. None of that was done with this extension.”

Noem hopes that during the extension, Noem along with some of the new Congressional members will be able to sit down to draft a bill that will offer both sustainability and a reduction in spending to present to the House and Senate. She stated that one of the things we need the most is crop insurance.

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