Press Release: Rounds Supports Working Families Flexibility Act

 Rounds Supports Working Families Flexibility Act

MikeRounds official SenateWASHINGTON—Yesterday, U.S. Senator Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) cosponsored the Working Families Flexibility Act, which would allow employees to choose between traditional overtime pay or additional comp time when they work overtime hours.

“This bill would benefit hard-working families across South Dakota and throughout the country,” said Rounds. “It would offer private sector employees a win-win option when they work overtime: they could select either monetary compensation or paid time off to spend at their leisure. Government employees currently have this option, so it makes sense to give private sector workers the same opportunity and flexibility.”

Introduced by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), the Working Families Flexibility Act amends the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 to provide employers with the necessary flexibility to allow their employees to choose either the traditional overtime pay or paid time off for any overtime hours worked. Employers would be able to offer this option to their employees on a voluntary basis.


Press Release: Rounds Meets with Nominee for Secretary of Defense, Dr. Ashton Carter

Rounds Meets with Nominee for Secretary of Defense, Dr. Ashton Carter

WASHINGTON—U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) met yesterday with Dr. Ashton Carter, President Obama’s nominee to succeed Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense.

“I had a productive meeting with Dr. Carter yesterday,” said Rounds. “We talked about the strategic needs of our country, among other issues. As a former Deputy Secretary of Defense he is familiar with the confirmation procedures, and I look forward to an informative and productive confirmation process.”

Rounds is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

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Press Release: Rounds to Chair EPW Subcommittee on Regulatory Oversight

Rounds to Chair EPW Subcommittee on Regulatory Oversight

U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), a member of the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, today announced he will chair the EPW Subcommittee on Superfund, Waste Management and Regulatory Oversight. Among other duties, the subcommittee is responsible for oversight of agencies, departments and programs within the EPW Committee’s jurisdiction. This includes the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers.

“It’s a privilege to be chosen to lead this important subcommittee, which will provide much-needed oversight on some of the Administration’s most egregious regulations,” said Rounds. “Many of the agencies under EPW’s jurisdiction have run amuck under President Obama’s watch, threatening the agriculture industry, the energy sector and economic recovery across the nation.  I look forward to keeping a close watch on these agencies in this new role to make sure we are being responsible stewards of our natural resources.”

U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Chairman of the EPW Committee, also weighed in.

“It is an honor to have Senator Mike Rounds serve as the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Superfund, Waste Management, and Regulatory Oversight,” said Inhofe. “Governors are known for working hard and getting things done for their constituents, which is why South Dakotans chose to send their former governor to represent them in the U.S. Senate. I look forward to his contribution to the committee, especially the oversight he will conduct of EPA’s excessive regulation impacting all Americans, from our energy industry to our farmers and small businesses.  It’s been an honor getting to know him over the past few months, and I look forward to his leadership on the committee in the 114th Congress.”

Rounds also sits on the EPW Fisheries, Wildlife and Water Subcommittee.


Release: Rounds Supports Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act

Rounds Supports Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act

WASHINGTON— Today, U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) supported the Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act, which passed out of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee. The bill will now move to the full Senate floor for consideration.

“Our men and women in uniform make incredible sacrifices to protect our freedoms, and the Department of Veterans Affairs has a responsibility to provide proper care for them when their service is complete,” said Rounds. “This includes offering quality, accessible mental health care to returning veterans, many of whom struggle with the invisible wounds of war long after they leave the battlefield. Our bill is a positive step toward offering them necessary assistance while streamlining programs to make sure our resources are being used effectively. I was pleased to vote it out of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee today.”

Statistics show that an average of 22 veterans take their own lives every day in the United States. The Clay Hunt Suicide Prevention for American Veterans Act calls for outside evaluations of all the current suicide prevention programs at the VA and the Department of Defense to make sure they are functioning as intended. Those found ineffective will come under review for improvement, consolidation or elimination.

It also would require a new website to be built that offers veterans information on how to access mental health services. Additionally, it creates a medical school loan repayment program to recruit more VA psychiatrists.

The bill was named for Clay Hunt, a Marine veteran who committed suicide in March 2011 at the age of 28. An identical bill passed the House of Representatives with bipartisan support yesterday.


Press Release: Rounds Statement on President’s State of the Union Address

Rounds Statement on President’s State of the Union Address

MikeRounds official SenateWASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) made the following statement on the President’s State of the Union Address:

“I appreciate the fact that the President at least acknowledged the need to work together to solve our country’s most pressing issues,” Rounds said, “but he must do more than pay lip service to bipartisanship in order to move our country forward. If the proposals he laid out tonight are any indication, I’m afraid he is not serious about working with the new Republican Congress. Instead, he offered more of his same failed policies and proposals that will raise taxes on American families, add to our already bloated debt and stifle energy and economic growth.

“Most troubling of these proposals is his plan to raise taxes on hard-working Americans – to the tune of $320 billion dollars. The President might want you to think these tax increases will only affect the Warren Buffetts of the world, but don’t be fooled. The tax plan he proposed tonight would impact South Dakota small business owners, farmers, ranchers and entrepreneurs. The people who will be hit by this are your friends, your neighbors and Main Street store owners who provide good-paying jobs and essential services in South Dakota communities.

“Americans made very clear in the last elections that they are tired of the same old Washington practices that have made government too burdensome, too big and downright ineffective.  What South Dakotans are telling me is that they want us to work together on ideas that will make government more efficient and accountable. Republicans have already rolled up their sleeves to work on commonsense, bipartisan efforts to get government working again. It will be up to the President decide whether he wants to join us in that conversation.”


US Senator Mike Rounds Weekly Column: Time to Pass Keystone XL Legislation

Time to Pass Keystone XL Legislation
By Senator Mike Rounds
Jan. 16, 2015

MikeRounds official SenateOne of the first items the 114th Congress is taking up is a bill that would authorize construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. A long-time supporter of the project, it was the first bill I signed onto when I took office. The pipeline would bring new sources of energy, create tens of thousands of jobs in the U.S. and free up rail space for South Dakota crops to be sold.

Unfortunately, this project has been politicized by this Administration. By refusing to approve the project – despite having studied it for seven years and undeniable evidence showing that it should be built – the President gives Congress little choice but to take matters into our own hands. With a new Republican majority in both chambers of Congress, we now have an opportunity to put a Keystone bill on the President’s desk. The House of Representatives wasted no time passing Keystone XL pipeline legislation, just as they have in past sessions of Congress. Shortly afterward, the Senate voted 63-32 to bring the legislation to the floor for an open amendment process. I expect the Senate to pass it soon and get it to the President’s desk within weeks.

Unfortunately, the President has already threatened to veto the bill, despite widespread bipartisan support in Congress and the overwhelming support of the American public. A recent CNN poll shows a majority of Americans— 57 percent —support the Keystone XL pipeline. But the President is more concerned with using the pipeline as a political football.

The proposed pipeline will run more than 1,000 miles and carry 830,000 barrels of crude oil to refineries on the gulf coast. It will enter the United States in Montana, then run through South Dakota to connect with an existing pipeline in Nebraska. Separate from Keystone, which has been politicized, thousands of miles of pipeline have already been built and are in use in South Dakota.  Over the past seven years, the federal government has run a number of environmental impact studies along the route, coming to the conclusion that construction of the pipeline would not cause any significant environmental risks. Yet the Administration continues to delay its approval, showing us that American jobs and energy independence are not their top priorities. Earlier this month, a lawsuit holding up approval of the route through Nebraska was overturned by the Nebraska Supreme Court, removing another excuse the President has used to delay the project.

Since the pipeline will pass through our state, this would bring job opportunities for South Dakotans. It would also play a significant role in an “all of the above” approach to our nation’s growing energy needs and free up rail space for South Dakota grains. I’m pleased my colleagues have agreed to take matters into our own hands on this important issue. I look forward to debating amendments on the Keystone bill in the Senate. Doing so brings us one step closer to finally building the pipeline, bringing along an economic boost to our country.

Release: Rounds Applauds Advancement of Powder River Training Complex Expansion

Rounds Applauds Advancement of Powder River Training Complex Expansion

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) made the following statement on the Air Force’s announcement that it has formalized its decision to expand the Powder River Training Complex:

“Today’s announcement is great news for our state, the federal budget, and our national security,” Rounds said. “The additional airspace the complex will provide to Ellsworth will greatly benefit the facility, strengthening the role the Air Force Base plays in national defense. Plus, it make sense fiscally – saving taxpayers millions of dollars annually. It’s good to have the FAA and Air Force work together on this effort and I look forward the FAA finalizing the expansion decision. I thank Sen. Thune and Rep. Noem on their work in previous sessions of Congress to see this important project advance and look forward to working with them to see it cross the finish line.”


US Senator Mike Rounds’ Inaugural Weekly Column: Getting Settled, Ready to Work

Getting Settled, Ready to Work
By: Senator Mike Rounds
Jan. 9, 2015

roundsLast week, I was sworn in as the 27th Senator from South Dakota. I am grateful for those who helped get me here and look forward to working together to solve the problems facing our state and nation.

At my swearing in, I was joined by approximately 20 family members from South Dakota, including my wife, Jean, our four kids and their spouses, my father, Don, and my stepmother Rosemary. Having them with me made the day particularly special, and I thank them for their overwhelming support on this journey. But now that the pomp and circumstance is over, I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and get started on the important issues before us.

We already had a busy first week. The first piece of legislation we voted on was the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA), which I supported, and it passed overwhelmingly. TRIA, which expired last Congress, protects the commercial property/casualty market and the economy overall, in case of a major terrorism attack, similar to the situation after 9/11. Next, we’re looking to bring Keystone XL pipeline legislation to the floor for debate. The bill, which I cosponsored with 59 other colleagues, would finally authorize construction of the pipeline project. I have been a proponent of Keystone for a number of years. Its construction could clear up our nation’s railways, making it easier to bring South Dakota grain to market. Unfortunately, the President has already threatened to veto Keystone XL legislation, but we’ll keep trying new avenues to get it across the finish line.

We’ve also been busy at the committee level. I’ve already participated in a number of committee meetings to establish our agendas for this session, and all the chairmen have indicated that they plan to keep us active and engaged. Most of the Senate’s work actually gets done at the committee level, and I’m fortunate to be a member of four committees that are important to South Dakotans: Senate Armed Services; Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs; Veterans’ Affairs and Environment and Public Works. I am looking forward to sharing our work with you back home in the coming months.

To help me along, I’ve brought on an exceptional staff who have been working hard to make sure we hit the ground running. In D.C., we have a seasoned group of policy experts. My state staff will act as liaisons with constituents when I’m called to session in Washington. As you know, part of our job as a Congressional office is to provide assistance should you encounter problems with a federal agency. Whether you’re having trouble with a farm program, a VA claim is being held up in paperwork or there is an issue obtaining social security benefits, my state staff will be available to help sort the issue out. They are situated across the state.

We’re still busy setting them up, but eventually we’ll have offices in Sioux Falls, Pierre, Rapid City and satellite offices in Huron and Aberdeen, in addition to Washington, D.C. We’ll send out contact information for each office as they become available. Until then, I encourage you to contact my Washington office at (202) 224-5842 with any inquiries. Thanks again for your support. I look forward to staying in touch throughout my time in the Senate.

Rounds Signs onto Keystone XL Pipeline Legislation, Disappointed by President’s Veto Threat

Rounds Signs onto Keystone XL Pipeline Legislation,
Disappointed by President’s Veto Threat

roundsWASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Mike Rounds (R-SD) today announced he is one of 60 bipartisan cosponsors to a bill approving the Keystone XL pipeline project. The bill, S. 1, is the first piece of legislation being considered in the Senate and the first bill Rounds is sponsoring as a Senator. Yesterday afternoon, President Obama indicated he would veto the legislation.

“Approval of the Keystone XL pipeline is long overdue. South Dakotans – and all Americans – overwhelmingly support it,” said Rounds. “I’m disappointed the President failed to listen to the will of voters by threatening to veto this important project. Instead, he’s pandering to the extreme left minority of his party. My hope is that cooler heads will prevail at the White House as we send this and other commonsense bills his way in the future.”

Offered by Sens. John Hoeven (R-ND) and Joe Manchin (D-WV), S. 1 authorizes TransCanada to construct and operate the Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta, Canada, to the U.S. Gulf Coast, transporting an additional 830,000 barrels of secure North American oil per day to U.S. refineries. The U.S. State Department estimates that Keystone will create 42,100 American jobs. Upon passage, a presidential permit would no longer be needed to approve the project. It is expected to pass the Senate with broad bipartisan support.

The Keystone XL pipeline project has been under review for more than six years, with five State Department issued environmental impact reports determining that the pipeline poses no major environmental risks.


Photo Release: New South Dakota Delegation

Photo Release: New South Dakota Delegation

114SDDelegationWASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Representative Kristi Noem (R-S.D.) joined for the first photo in the 114th Congress of the new South Dakota delegation this morning in Washington, D.C. This Congress marks the first time since 1962 that South Dakota is represented by an all-Republican delegation.