Sen. John Thune
Last year at this time, Republicans were preparing to take control of the Senate – the first time Republicans would control the upper chamber since 2007 – and follow through on the promises we made to the American people. Republicans were serious when we pledged to get Washington working again. It wasn’t a half-heartened slogan we used to campaign for the majority, it was a commitment by which we intended to govern in the majority.
Republicans pledged to tackle the big issues, which is why in just the first few weeks of the new Republican majority, we sent a bill to President Obama that would have approved the long-stalled, job-creating Keystone XL pipeline. We also passed important legislation that gave the American people a voice on the president’s misguided nuclear agreement with Iran, a ten-year balanced budget that didn’t raise a single dime in taxes, a bill that funds America’s men and women in uniform, numerous resolutions that would block burdensome EPA regulations, legislation that defunds Planned Parenthood, and a bill that repeals Obamacare.
I was glad we were able to help secure the Powder River Training Complex (PRTC) expansion, which was an effort nearly nine years in the making. As I said in March when the expansion was first announced, while this was a long process, I’m proud we’re able to provide our servicemen and women with the resources they need to be successful in a combat environment. In early December, PRTC commanders and airmen completed their first of what I hope will be many successful large force exercises.
It was a humbling experience to play an integral role in getting the first long-term highway bill in more than a decade signed into law. The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, of which I am chairman, can be credited with nearly half of the legislative text included in the final version of the bill, including reforms that will enhance safety, provide regulatory relief, streamline grant programs, and improve the accountability and efficiency of oversight efforts. Having served on the conference committee that negotiated the final version, I was in a unique position to ensure South Dakota’s interests were given key consideration.
States like South Dakota that depend on freight rail to ship products to and from their communities will benefit from the important Surface Transportation Board (STB) reforms that I helped usher through the Commerce Committee and full House and Senate. These reforms – the first of their kind for the STB – will end the uncertainty faced by businesses and agriculture producers and help protect the consumers who are ultimately impacted by disruptions in freight transportation.
While we’ve been able to accomplish a lot of important things for the American people, there is more work to be done. We plan to spend the second year of the 114th Congress the way we’ve spent the first: fighting to make our economy stronger, our government more efficient and more accountable, and our nation and our world safer and more secure.