Senator Rounds Weekly Column: Wrapping up my first session of Congress, ready to get to work in the year ahead

Wrapping up my first session of Congress, ready to get to work in the year ahead
by U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.)

Two years ago, you trusted me with your vote to serve as your United States Senator. Having seen the damaging effects of our overreaching, broken federal government as a business owner, governor, father and grandfather, I was eager to get to work to fix Washington. 

While partisan gridlock in Washington still exists, we were able to make progress in several specific areas. We were able to enact the first major changes to our education laws since ‘No Child Left Behind,’ returning decision-making to the local level where it belongs. We also passed a long-term highway bill for the first time in two decades, allowing us to make long-overdue improvements to our roads and bridges.

While we still have work to do on tax reform, we were able to come together to make permanent sales tax deductions as well as deductions for charitable giving and certain educators. We also made section 179 permanent at the $500,000 level, which particularly benefits farmers and ranchers and could increase U.S. economic output by nearly $19 billion over 10 years. This type of tax relief allows South Dakota families and businesses to plan more efficiently and spend more of their money how they see fit.

While the accomplishments of the 114th Congress are a start, I am also aware of the challenges we continue to face. Despite getting 240 bipartisan bills signed into law, we still have a broken budget system, an over-sized bureaucracy, too much red tape and a tax code that is more than 74,000 pages in length.

The regulatory regime alone is costing Americans nearly $1.9 trillion annually, far more than is paid in individual income taxes. These regulatory costs are taking money out of the pockets of hard-working South Dakotans, stunting economic growth in our country and hurting the citizens our government is meant to serve.

While we have made improvements to agencies such as the VA, too many veterans today are still suffering at the hands of administrative bureaucracy. We have an Indian Health System in need of total overhaul, employing twice as many bureaucrats as actual health providers. Meanwhile, tribal members are literally dying awaiting care the federal government has an obligation to provide. We must seek ways to make these and other agencies more efficient.

In the next Congress, addressing our debt crisis must also be a priority. The long-term driver of our debt is mandatory payments and interest on our debt, currently over $19 trillion. Yet Congress does not even debate the merits of mandatory payments, which accounts for more than 70 percent of our spending today. I have been working with a number of other senators to find ways to revise the budget process here in Congress, so we can address our budget crisis. What we have been working on would open up the entire budget to congressional management, including mandatory payments. 

As we move forward to the 115th Congress and a new, Republican administration eager to work with us, rather than against us, I am optimistic in our ability to build on the successes of the past two years. But we must also get serious about bringing real changes that will leave our country even stronger for the next generation of Americans.

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24 thoughts on “Senator Rounds Weekly Column: Wrapping up my first session of Congress, ready to get to work in the year ahead

  1. Jaa Dee

    Does he know Obama will be gone ? Does he know that he and others might have to do something other than whine, blame, lie and play political gotchas ?

    1. Anonymous

      well i guess he could wait till his last few months and then seek to undermine like the president is doing with Israel…..

      1. The Blogger Formerly Known as "Winston"

        Israel has received more military aid under Obama than any other US President… Undermine?

  2. Anonymous

    Didn’t Senator Rounds vote for President Obama’s $1.1 Trillion budget and all the continuing spending bills? How is President Obama responsible for the $29 Trillion in debt Senator Rounds helped create?

  3. The Blogger Formerly Known as "Winston"

    What about the 2009 National Recovery Act, didn’t South Dakota balance its budget that year (under then Gov. Rounds’ leadership) with the help of a $ 78 million gift to our state from the Feds? I believe our Federal deficit that year was $ 1.4 triilion, yet we were more than happy to take the Feds money…

    1. Annon

      Money that would have been prorated to all the other states if sd wouldn’t have accepted it. Our legislature would have been incompetent to not take it.

      1. The Blogger Formerly Known as "Winston"

        Oh I know why we took it, but once you accept the apple you cannot say anymore that you are holier-than-thou….

        1. The Blogger Formerly Known as "Winston"

          It is on the Feds and not the State. It was and is a “gift” for State political leaders….

            1. The Blogger Formerly Known as "Winston"

              Wow! Do rwe really need to go there?

              Okay, here we go, politically they are two separate political structures. The people are a part of both, but the political leaders have their own political havens from which to pivot from. They are either state leaders or federal leaders and given that reality are allowed to “Pass the Buck,” especially state leaders when the “Feds” become the parent in the situation.

              And if none of this is true, then how do you explain the conservative viewpoint when they complain about federal mandates without appropriate federal funding? I guess that classic conservative argument no longer has any validity if “The ‘Feds” are the States”…..

  4. Troy Jones

    Ok, I will answer the question.

    The President said he’d shut down the government if he didn’t get his way. The resolutions cut what the President otherwise was willing to add to the deficit. The resolutions added less than $250 million to the debt. Senator Rounds was not in office when the other $9 Trillion was added to the debt under President Obama.

  5. Anonymous

    I’m leaning towards not supporting Rounds in his reelection. Rhoden would have been more conservative.

  6. Anonymous

    Troy Jones is a short, fat white reactionary with no solutions and has never exercised a day in his life.

    1. Anonymous

      Larry how is it going in New Mexico? Nice temps today or did you sneak back under law enforcement radar to South Dakota for a visit?

  7. Anonymous

    Not a word from the “good” senator about alleged Russian hacking and interfering with the US election process. Nothing from Kristi or Johnny Tune either. They lack spines and leadership skills. I am thankful for Senators McCain and McConnell and their indignation toward Russia and Putin – they are not our friends.

  8. Anonymous

    Mike Rounds is one of the least effective members of Congress: he’ll be the perfect puppet for Trump.

    1. Anonymous

      A real fiscal conservative would close Ellsworth AFB? A real fiscal conservative would realize it is far cheaper to have the excellent strategic location & deterrence with placing our B1B Lancers and next generation long range bomber at Ellsworth than further concentrating our bombers making them more vulnerable to attack.