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.