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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today spoke on the Senate floor about being selected to serve on the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry; the Senate Finance Committee; and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. Thune also discussed his resolution that formally congratulates the South Dakota State University Jackrabbits football team on winning the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I Football Championship Subdivision title, which was unanimously approved by the Senate.
Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, yesterday the Senate unanimously approved my resolution with Senator Rounds formally congratulating the South Dakota State University football team on their championship season.
“And what a great season it was for the Jackrabbits.
“They ended the season 14 and 1 and never lost a game in their conference.
“They earned the number-one seed in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.
“And they brought home the FCS National Championship for the first time in program history with a 45-21 win against the North Dakota State Bison last month.
“Mr. President, the Jacks’ championship win is a fitting capstone to Coach John Stiegelmeier’s 26-season career leading the Jacks.
“Coach Stig, as he’s affectionately known, is the heart and soul of Jacks football.
“Like many South Dakotans, he learned his values from his dad on the family farm in Selby, South Dakota: ‘Work hard, be a good person, and you will have success.’
“‘Work hard, be a good person, and you will have success.’
“I’d say Coach Stig has done all three.
“His determination transformed SDSU’s football team into what it is today.
“SDSU became a Division I program under his leadership, and former Jacks players have gone on to careers in the NFL.
“His calm, patience, and caring set the standard for his players and made the team a family.
“And he leaves as the winningest coach in SDSU history, the 2022 FCS Coach of the Year, and, of course, with a national title for the team he’s dedicated his career to making great.
“Huge congratulations to the Jackrabbits on their season, and Coach Stig, we wish you all the best in your retirement.
“You’ve earned it.
“Mr. President, yesterday Republicans confirmed their committee assignments for the new Congress.
“And for the 118th Congress, I am excited to once again be serving South Dakotans on the Senate Agriculture, Finance, and Commerce Committees.
“Mr. President, if any committee is a good fit for a South Dakota senator, it’s the Senate Agriculture Committee.
“Agriculture is the lifeblood of South Dakota, and day-in and day-out, one of my top priorities is addressing the needs of farmers and ranchers.
“And my seat on the Senate Agriculture Committee gives me a particularly valuable platform from which to advocate for South Dakota producers.
“Over the years, thanks in part to my position on the Ag Committee, I’ve been able to help secure resources for farmers and ranchers whose herds or crops have been hit hard by adverse weather.
“I’ve been able to help strengthen the farm safety net through commodity programs like Agriculture Risk Coverage.
“I’ve been able to help establish a safety net for livestock producers through programs like the Livestock Indemnity Program and the Livestock Forage Program.
“I’ve been able to make the Conservation Reserve Program a more effective tool for producers.
“And 2023 is a particularly exciting time to be on the Ag Committee, because 2023 is a farm bill year.
“During my time in Congress, I’ve been involved in drafting four farm bills, and I am eager to get to work on my fifth.
“I’ve been gearing up for the 2023 farm bill since last year, when I began convening roundtables with farmers and ranchers and ag stakeholders to hear about their top priorities for this year’s bill.
“I’ve also introduced several pieces of legislation that I will work to get included in this farm bill, including legislation to strengthen and improve the Conservation Reserve Program, increase the information available on the impacts of conservation practices, and address the needs of South Dakota livestock producers.
“In addition to focusing on the farm bill, I’ll be monitoring the evolving situation on the Obama-era Waters of the United States rule that President Biden’s Environmental Protection Agency just resurrected, which would give the federal government sweeping jurisdiction over most water features in our state, from ephemeral streams to prairie potholes.
“This would be a nightmare for South Dakota landowners, in particular farmers and ranchers, and I will be doing everything I can to keep the heavy hand of the federal government out of the business of regulating landowners’ puddles.
“Mr. President, I’m also proud to continue serving on the Commerce Committee, of which I’m a longtime member, including four years as chairman.
“The Commerce Committee’s jurisdiction is broad.
“It’s the Senate’s ‘planes, trains, and automobiles’ committee.
“And its oceans and space committee.
“And its technology committee.
“Our work is inherently forward-looking, and it’s often some of the most interesting, relevant, and exciting work going on in Congress.
“So it’s no surprise that the Commerce Committee offers plenty of opportunity to deliver for South Dakotans.
“With a reliable internet connection being increasingly essential for everyday life, closing the digital divide is more important than ever.
“And as a member of the Commerce Committee, expanding broadband access into unserved areas has long been a priority of mine.
“I’ve worked to support broadband expansion, reduce unnecessary obstacles to building reliable networks, and – most recently – to hold federal agencies accountable to ensure that federal funding for rural broadband goes to its intended purpose: expanding broadband access to areas that currently lack it.
“I also believe we need to hold Big Tech platforms accountable.
“South Dakotans and many other Americans are frustrated by the lack of transparency in these companies’ content moderation practices.
“And this Congress, I’ll be working to advance my bipartisan legislation to increase transparency and due process for users on internet platforms.
“I’ll also continue working to ensure rural states like South Dakota have a seat at the table when it comes to infrastructure investment.
“I’ve spent my time on the Commerce Committee working to support rural states’ unique transportation needs, especially maintaining reliable transportation for livestock and agricultural products.
“Last year, I worked on a bipartisan fix to shipping bottlenecks that were interrupting exports of South Dakota agriculture products and other goods.
“This year, we will need to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration, and improvements to South Dakota’s airport infrastructure and rural air service will be among my priorities.
“Mr. President, my third committee assignment is on the Senate Finance Committee.
“Over at Finance we focus on tax, trade, and health issues.
“Making sure that our tax system is serving our economy and American workers is something I take very seriously.
“And I am deeply committed to making sure that we keep a lid on the amount of money the federal government is taking out of Americans’ paychecks.
“I was proud to be involved in the Republican-led tax reform legislation that passed in 2017, which allowed Americans to keep more of their hard-earned money and helped ensure that American businesses can be competitive in the 21st century economy, so that they can offer the best opportunities to American workers.
“And one of my priorities right now is making sure that we extend, or make permanent, expiring provisions of the 2017 legislation so that American families and businesses aren’t facing tax hikes in the near future.
“Another priority of mine at the Finance Committee is making sure that we are opening up new markets for American products and services abroad.
“Agriculture producers in particular are at the top of my mind.
“They’ve had a tough couple of years between inflation, shipping issues, meat-processing bottlenecks, and all the usual challenges that come with an industry where a single storm can wipe out a year’s work.
“And opening up new market access opportunities for our ag producers to sell their products is one of my biggest Finance Committee priorities.
“Unfortunately, the Biden administration has done very little to advance U.S. trade leadership and create new markets for American products and services.
“And so this year I will be doing everything I can to ensure that we are advancing trade opportunities that benefit American producers and American workers.
“Mr. President, it is the honor of my life to represent South Dakotans in the United States Senate.
“And I am excited about the opportunities I will have this year at the Agriculture, Finance, and Commerce Committees to serve the people of South Dakota and help make life better for Americans around the country.
“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”