The mission statement in my office begins like this: “We are placed in our positions to serve the people of South Dakota…” Not a day goes by that I don’t remember what an honor it is to serve you in the U.S. House of Representatives. You have a right to know what I’ve been working on and the successes we’ve had for South Dakota. As you scroll through the items below, I hope you have a chance to learn a little more about real results I’m working to produce for our great state. If you have any further questions, just click the Contact button above and send me an email. Hope to see you soon!
Creating Opportunity through Government Reform
Cutting Wasteful Government Spending. Discretionary spending is now below 2011 levels, but discretionary spending – or that which Congress has control of through the appropriations process – makes up just one-third of the federal budget. The other two-thirds is “mandatory,” funding entitlement programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. We must make responsible reforms in these areas to ensure their long-term viability and get our national debt crisis under control.
Protecting South Dakotans from Tax Hikes. As a member of the House Ways and Means Committee, I helped shape legislation to make a number of temporary tax provisions permanent. This became law and included permanent extensions to Section 179 business expensing limitations, improvements to 529 college savings plans, a deduction for state and local sales tax, a deduction for certain expenses for teachers, and deductions for charitable giving. Our attention now turns to comprehensive tax reform.
Passing into Law Meaningful Entitlement Reforms. In passing H.R.2, we fundamentally changed the way doctors are reimbursed by Medicare, strengthening the program for recipients, extending the longevity of Medicare, and saving taxpayer dollars. This was one of the most meaningful entitlement reforms in nearly two decades.
Reducing the Federal Government’s Role in Education. In 2015, I helped pass the first major education overhaul since 2002. Through this bipartisan legislation, we eliminated dozens of ineffective, duplicative, and unnecessary programs and replaced them with a single grant program that gives states more flexibility. I also made sure the federal government could no longer pressure states into adopting specific academic standards, such as Common Core.
Holding the IRS accountable. In December 2015, I helped lead the House in passing into law legislation requiring that IRS employees who take politically motivated actions against taxpayers be fired. I have also authored legislation to prohibit the IRS from rehiring an employee that has been fired because of misconduct.
Building a Healthy Economy
Fighting to Repeal and Replace Obamacare. Nearly a dozen repeals or reforms have been made to the President’s health care law as a result of our efforts in the House. I have helped pass legislation fully repealing Obamacare numerous times, and in January 2016, we were able to overcome opposition by Senate Democrats in order to put repeal legislation on the President’s desk. While he vetoed it, my efforts continue. Additionally, I have backed patient-centered alternatives, such as allowing customers to purchase insurance across state lines and expanding Health Savings Accounts. There is a better way.
Enacting a Five-Year Farm Bill. I helped lead Congress in negotiating and passing a five-year Farm Bill that equips farmers and ranchers with essential risk-management tools, including a strong safety net for producers and a meaningful livestock disaster program. Additionally, language I wrote was included to support pine beetle mitigation efforts that help protect the Black Hills, maintained the Sun Grant Initiative (which SDSU takes part in), established a permanent Office of Tribal Relations at USDA, and created important sod-saver provisions to promote conservation.
Supporting Our Infrastructure. With my support, Congress passed into law a long-term highway bill for the first time in more than a decade. The highway bill gives local teams more flexibility to address their unique priorities and offers state and local governments the certainty they need to plan and conduct necessary maintenance on our intricate network of roads, bridges, and railways.
Stopping Needless Washington Regulations. When the Department of Labor offered a proposal which could have banned kids from being hired to do certain farm work on their family’s or relative’s farms, I put pressure on the Department, after which they rescinded the rule. When OSHA tried to regulate small family farms, I again was effective in getting the agency to reverse course. When the EPA was looking to expand dust regulations, I authored legislation to stop them. We’ve had successes, but we can’t take our foot off the gas. Overly burdensome regulations on school lunches and our energy industry as well as proposals like the new “Waters of the U.S.” rule continue to threaten our families and workforce.
Protecting the Most Vulnerable
Addressing Human Trafficking. Human trafficking doesn’t just occur overseas – it happens in our backyards. In May 2015, I led the House in passing one of the most comprehensive anti-trafficking packages Congress has seen in years. The legislation, which was signed into law weeks later, allocates more resources for survivors, offers more tools to go after traffickers and buyers, and puts policies in place to better prevent trafficking.
Combating Sexual Assault in the Military. In 2013, three provisions I authored were included in our annual defense policy bill, which became law later that year. The legislation aimed to improve the investigation of sex-related offenses, require sexual assault prevention personnel to have certain qualifications, and standardize basic training plans for sexual assault.
Reforming the Mental Healthcare System. I cosponsored House-passed legislation that aims to break down barriers for families to work with healthcare providers, helping ensure they can be partners in caring for those with serious mental illnesses. The legislation also makes meaningful advances in tele-psychiatry to better reach underserved and rural communities. In 2015, I brought the legislation’s author, Rep. Tim Murphy, to Pine Ridge to meet with those fighting the tribal suicide epidemic. Because of our collaboration, new provisions were included to help support and prioritize Native American suicide programs.
Making South Dakota a National Priority
Fighting to Reform the Indian Health Service (IHS). For years, federal reports have documented shocking cases of mismanagement and poorly delivered care within IHS. I've introduced comprehensive legislation that offers structural changes to how IHS operates, addressing both medical and administrative challenges. I'm committed to working together to move these legislative reforms forward and make immediate agency-level changes to ensure tribal members finally receive the care their families need.
Protecting the Lewis & Clark Project. Year after year, the President’s budget underfunds the federal government’s commitment to the Lewis & Clark Rural Water System. I helped create a Rural Water Fund in 2013, which has given additional support to Lewis & Clark and other critical rural water projects.
Preserving Historic Black Hills Cemeteries. The Black Hills is home to nine historic cemeteries. To honor the communities that have been caring for the cemeteries for generations and to reduce liabilities for the U.S. Forest Service, I worked to pass legislation that would turn federal ownership of these cemeteries to their rightful owners – the communities that maintain them. This legislation was signed into law in 2014.
Tackling the Wetland Determinations Backlog. Some producers have been asked to wait years before knowing whether they can improve their land without jeopardizing a wetland or their participation in farm programs. It's an unacceptable and costly delay. Together with Reps. Cramer (R-ND) and Peterson (D-MN), I offered real reforms to help eliminate the backlog and ensure timely and accurate wetland determinations are made from here on out.
Fighting for the Hot Springs VA Hospital. The Hot Springs VA Hospital has long provided critical care to South Dakota veterans, but the VA continues to push toward closing the facility. Time and again, the House has supported initiatives I authored to protect the Hot Springs VA Hospital and I will continue to make the facility and the veterans it serves a priority.
Expanding the Black Hills National Cemetery. Those who have served and the families who have sacrificed beside them deserve our nation's eternal gratitude. Since 1948, the Black Hills National Cemetery has been but one way this appreication is shown. The facility, however, will not have the room required to continue serving veterans unless it is expanded. I introduced legislation, which passed the House, to approximately triple the cemetery's size, assuring veterans that our nation will forever show its gratitude for their contributions.
Protecting Tribal Sovereignty. The last thing tribes need when trying to improve economic opportunities for their citizens is a federal bureaucracy meddling with their efforts. I wrote bipartisan language, which passed the House in 2015, to clarify that the National Labor Relations Board does not have jurisdiction over tribally owned and operated businesses.
Combating the Pine Beetle Epidemic. I wrote a provision in the Farm Bill that gives more tools to combat insect and disease infestations, like those affecting the Black Hills. Rather than treating only hundreds of acres at a time, this language empowers our foresters to go after thousands of acres at once and work more quickly and effectively. Additionally, I’ve been able to help secure $3.5 million in additional funds for the fight in the Black Hills over the years and streamline the regulatory process so we can get boots on the ground faster.
Holding the Army Corps of Engineers Accountable. I authored provisions included in a recent water policy bill to require better communication between the Corps and the public. Additionally, the bill included language I championed that would prohibit the Corps from charging South Dakotans for surplus water taken from Missouri River reservoirs. This bill was made law in June 2014.