US Senator John Thune’s Weekly Column: The Work Goes On

The Work Goes On
By Sen. John Thune

When I served as chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, we had a four-year track record of bipartisanship and a reputation for getting things done. I’m proud of what we accomplished, including helping to lay the groundwork for the 5G mobile broadband revolution, enhancing Ellsworth Air Force Base’s strategic value, combatting human trafficking, improving weather forecasting, and working toward ending those illegal and abusive robocalls we all hate receiving.

While I now serve as chairman of the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet, I’m still the senior Republican member on the full committee, and I’m glad our members have not only maintained the panel’s productive workload under the new chairman, but we have also continued to make progress on many of the issues we started working on years ago.

For example, at our most recent committee markup, which is a formal committee process to consider legislation and presidential appointments, we sent more than two dozen bills and nominees to the Senate floor. Many of the bills we recently considered were bipartisan, and all of them were approved by voice vote, which means there was strong enough support for each of the measures to move without a single roll call vote – something that only happens when there’s little or no disagreement among senators.

Three of the bills heading to the full Senate have my name attached to them, including my Learning Excellence and Good Examples from New Developers (LEGEND) Act, which I introduced in October with Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii). This legislation essentially recognizes that there are a lot of smart and talented people who work at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and we should make their innovative weather models available to other smart and talented people who don’t work for the government so we can make NOAA’s good ideas even better.

Accurate weather forecasting is important for a lot of reasons, from safety to knowing when to put seeds in the ground. We should make these tools as efficient as possible, which is why I believe in my bill’s collaborative approach that builds off my previous work toward improving weather forecasting in South Dakota and throughout the United States.

The Reliable Emergency Alert Distribution Improvement Act, which, among other things, would help ensure Americans are receiving important emergency alerts on mobile phones and other devices, and the Harvesting American Cybersecurity Knowledge through Education Act, which would build on the important work being done by South Dakota universities to strengthen America’s cybersecurity workforce, were also overwhelmingly approved. I’m proud to cosponsor these bipartisan bills, and I look forward to sending them – and the LEGEND Act – to the president without delay.

With today’s 24-hour news cycle, a lot of the good work being done in Senate committees – and by the Senate as a whole – is unlikely to make the top of the evening news or the front page of the daily newspaper. It can be frustrating at times, especially when we’ve got good things to show for our work, but count me as one who is undeterred. The work goes on, and I’m committed to seeing it through, as always.