Recent Op-Eds

We’re Here to Help

By Sen. John Thune

July 30, 2021

When it comes to legislating, it’s my job to be a voice for you in Washington. What you might not realize, though, is that I can also help you interact with federal agencies and overcome certain challenges you might be experiencing – from working through concerns with a Department of Agriculture rule that could affect your farm to helping you receive a payment you’re owed from a government agency. I know how frustrating it can be when you feel like the person on the other end of the phone isn’t listening, and that’s where I can help. 


I’ve recently been hearing from an increasing number of South Dakotans who are experiencing tremendous delays in processing their passport applications. If you’ve wondered if it was normal to take 15-plus weeks to complete the process, the answer is no. In cases like this, when folks are struggling to get their passport in a timely manner, or if they need one expedited because of unforeseen travel or other unique circumstances, my office can step in and try to solve the problem. At the very least, we can help work the phones for you. 


The passport backlog has ballooned to an unprecedented level, with more than 2 million Americans expecting 12-to-18-week delays – nearly three times longer than the typical processing time of four to six weeks. My office is doing everything we can to help South Dakotans get their passports renewed in time. We are talking with these agencies daily to help speed the process along, and I’m keeping pressure on the responsible agencies in Washington to get this corrected. 


My office can help with far more than passports. Whatever roadblocks you’re facing with federal government agencies, we can be a resource to help you navigate the federal bureaucracy and even act as liaison on your behalf, if necessary.


We’ve helped South Dakota veterans resolve issues with health benefits, long-overdue medals or awards, or other benefits they’re due for their brave service to our country. For a small fee, you can request to have a flag flown over the U.S. Capitol building on a specific date in honor of a milestone event, like a birthday or an anniversary, and after it’s flown, we’ll mail it to you with a certificate commemorating its flight. We can help seniors who are having trouble receiving their Social Security benefits, students who are trying to enter one of the military academies, and the list goes on.


Bottom line, if you need help with a federal agency or any of the other services I can provide, please reach out. You can call, email, or write any of my offices in Sioux Falls, Aberdeen, Rapid City, or Washington, D.C. Or stop by in person to say hello. We’re here to help.