New Priorities and Goals for a New Year
By Senator John Thune
It is about this time every year that people start planning for new opportunities in the year ahead. Some call them resolutions, but I prefer to call them priorities or goals. With both a new year and a new Republican majority in the Senate, I am eager to work on a number of issues facing our country.
With a Republican-controlled Congress and a Democrat White House, there are a number of bipartisan issues we can and should be working together on for the American people. These include important issues like approving the Keystone XL pipeline to create jobs and free up freight rail capacity, especially for agricultural commodities, reauthorizing trade promotion authority to ensure American goods are on an equal playing field in the global marketplace, and acting on bipartisan jobs bills that in the 113th Congress passed the House but were denied further action in the Democrat-controlled Senate.
The two parties may not share the same vision or the same prescription for change, but that doesn’t mean we can’t find ways to work together to help our country move in a positive direction, especially with the stagnant economy under the current administration. I am looking forward as part of the Senate leadership team, including my role as Chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, to help get Washington working again for the American people. The commerce committee will have the opportunity to address several issues important to South Dakotans including rural broadband, rail service, aviation, cybersecurity, and the long overdue need to modernize our telecommunications policy.
I am also eager to advance a number of important South Dakota priorities including final approval of the expansion of the Powder River Training Complex (PRTC). For the past eight years, I have worked closely with the Air Force in its effort to expand the PRTC to ensure our B-1 pilots and crews in South Dakota can maintain the maximum level of readiness and save taxpayer dollars in the process. I am committed to working with the Air Force and the Federal Aviation Administration to open this expanded airspace as soon as possible to ensure multiple aircraft and crew can train together, simulating a more realistic combat environment with no live fire.
I also remain committed to reining-in the Obama Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) overreach to protect South Dakotans from the devastating impact these EPA actions would have on American jobs and energy prices. I will also reintroduce my bill to block the controversial proposal to lower the ground-level ozone standard – the most expensive regulation in EPA history. Finally, I’ll continue fighting for South Dakota consumers by working to stop President Obama’s backdoor national energy tax, and the EPA’s effort to further regulate farms, ranches, and businesses by expanding its regulatory authority under the Clean Water Act.
I know South Dakotans continue to feel the weight of ObamaCare’s higher health care premiums and deductibles, canceled plans, and burdensome regulations. As families learn what their plans will cost them this year, opposition to the president’s signature health law will only continue to grow. I am committed to repealing and replacing the most onerous parts of ObamaCare with policies that lower health care costs for South Dakota families.
Because there is so much to tackle in this new Congress, there will be considerable debate about what to address first; but rest assured, serving the people of South Dakota will continue to be my number one priority. As your U.S. Senator I look forward to new opportunities to serve South Dakota in the coming year and wish all South Dakotans a happy, safe, and healthy new year.