Congresswoman Kristi Noem’s Weekly Column: End of Summer Update

End of Summer Update
By Rep. Kristi Noem

I’ve had the opportunity to travel across South Dakota for the last month. Whether in Waubay, Parker, Mitchell or Mobridge – Aberdeen, Eagle Butte, Lemmon or Rapid City – I sensed the frustration so many people are feeling toward our government today – and I get it. I’m frustrated too. 

It’s easy to get discouraged by the current situation, but despite the challenges, progress is being made on real solutions that help real people. Since the beginning of this Congress, the House has passed 601 bills – a 28 percent increase over the 25-year average. Of those, 219 were enacted into law.  

Included in this list of 219 is the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act – a bipartisan anti-trafficking bill I helped champion. Among other things, this new policy offers additional support for those working to provide safe housing for trafficking victims and targets the websites that knowingly sell our kids.

The first fully funded, five-year transportation bill was passed too, as was the first major education overhaul since No Child Left Behind. Both aimed to offer more flexibility to states and localities, rather than centralizing authority within a federal bureaucracy. 

Protections against pending tax hikes were also signed into law. More specifically, we permanently extended Section 179 business expensing limitations, improved 529 college savings plans, and protected tax deductions for state and local sales tax, certain expenses for teachers, and charitable donations. 

Not every provision has become law yet, but it hasn’t stopped the House from taking up proposals. Just weeks ago, we passed legislation to modernize the nation’s mental healthcare system, which included provisions specifically targeted to rural and tribal communities after I brought the bill’s author to see South Dakota’s challenges. 

Provisions forcing any major regulation to be approved by Congress before implementation and a disapproval of the controversial Waters of the U.S. rule were also passed by the House. Additionally, we approved legislation, including provisions I wrote, to make our welfare system more accountable to taxpayers and the people it’s built to help. A proposal to prohibit the IRS from rehiring employees who were fired for misconduct, which I sponsored, as well as provisions to protect services at the Hot Springs VA Hospital received the House’s support too.

This isn’t where the work stops either. I am actively working on legislation to help expand the Black Hills National Cemetery, which has passed committee and is ready for the House’s full consideration. Legislation I sponsored to exempt tribes and tribal employers from Obamacare’s costly employer mandate has received committee approval as well.

I’ve joined with Reps. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and Collin Peterson (D-MN) on legislation aimed at addressing the backlog of wetland determinations and teamed with Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) on a proposal to extend the $1-per-gallon tax credit for biodiesel and reform it so it can only be used for U.S.-produced fuel.  

Additionally, I’ve authored a bill to fundamentally change how the Indian Health Service operates, addressing both medical and administrative challenges. This bill received a preliminary hearing just weeks after introduction and I’m hopeful it will receive a second hearing soon. 

This is all on top of the work I’m doing through the Ways and Means Committee to author a comprehensive tax reform package that makes the tax code work better for your family and our economy. 

Undoubtedly, there is much more to do, but whether we’re talking about what’s been accomplished or what’s yet to be accomplished, I’m grateful for constituent feedback and insight. Each email, letter, and conversation helps shape our priorities, so please stay in touch.

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