Sen. John Thune
It’s been a humbling and highly rewarding experience to have spent the last four years leading the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. While I truly wish I could continue doing so, next year I’ll be serving as the chief vote counter in the Senate and taking on additional responsibilities, which means I’ll have to turn the Commerce Committee gavel over to the next chairman. I won’t be going far, though. I’ll still serve on the committee, and with my new role, I’ll be in a prime position to continue advocating for our goals and building on what we’ve already achieved.
The Commerce Committee is unique for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the broad jurisdiction it has over agencies in the federal government and issues that affect Americans’ day-to-day lives. The committee covers planes, trains, and automobiles – essentially every mode of transportation in the United States. It has jurisdiction over technology, the internet, mobile broadband, the space program, the U.S. Coast Guard, and oceans. Those topics just scratch the surface, which is why I’ve always found the Commerce Committee so interesting and relevant.
Every single day I’ve served as chairman, I’ve tried to approach the job with a core mission of creating a forward-looking agenda. I wanted to pursue policies that helped prepare our economy and workers for the jobs and opportunities of the future. I wanted to use my position on the committee to serve South Dakotans and the rest of the American people to the best of my ability and in the most effective way I possibly could. After four years, we have a strong record of accomplishment, and I’m comfortably passing the torch knowing we left it all on the field.
Over the years, the committee has taken several meaningful steps to help protect travelers and consumers by doing common-sense things like reauthorizing and modernizing nearly every transportation program in the country. As a result, these efforts will make our highways safer, our railroads more efficient, and our airways more passenger-friendly. We’ve fought to hold technology companies, like Facebook, Twitter, Google, and Equifax, accountable to their users. And, an issue on which nearly everyone can agree, we’ve targeted bad actors who’ve used illegal and abusive robocalls to take advantage of our friends, families, and neighbors.
On mobile broadband development, an issue I’m extremely passionate about, I’ve worked tirelessly to help lay the groundwork to eventually bring the world’s fastest internet to South Dakota. I’ve spent years partnering with federal, state, and local officials to identify and overcome hurdles that are standing in the way of delivering the next generation of mobile broadband technology. I strongly believe winning the race to 5G is something we can should be able to achieve. Doing so would put South Dakota and the rest of the United States in a far more competitive position as we tackle the challenges and opportunities of the future.
Throughout my tenure as chairman, I’ve always tried to use the committee to highlight the amazing people and communities across South Dakota and the issues that are important to them. I’ve hosted and participated in field hearings, roundtables, and other events in nearly every corner of the state. I’ve invited fellow South Dakotans, like Gov. Dennis Daugaard, Sioux Falls Mayor Paul TenHaken, Dakota State University President José-Marie Griffiths, and Lake Area Technical Institute President Michael Cartney, among others, to testify at hearings in South Dakota and in Washington, D.C. Their insight has been invaluable.
I’m proud of everything the Commerce Committee has achieved over the last four years. We’ve taken on difficult and consequential issues and have always tried to pursue policies where both parties could find common ground. While I won’t be sitting in the chairman’s seat next year, my commitment to using the Commerce Committee – and all of the committees on which I serve, for that matter – to fight for South Dakota and its issues will remain the same.