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WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today spoke on the Senate floor about the Biden administration’s outrageous plan to block federal funds for schools’ hunting and archery programs. Thune recently introduced legislation that would clarify that the prohibition of the use of federal education funds for certain weapons does not apply to funds for sports clubs, teams, trainings, or related activities provided for students.
Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):
“Mr. President, since taking office, President Biden has not hesitated to use the power of the modern regulatory state to advance his far-left agenda – at times in contravention of the clear intent of Congress.
“Take his recent decision to cancel oil and gas leases in Alaska in defiance of congressional direction.
“Or his radical interpretation and implementation of the Green New Deal provisions of the so-called Inflation Reduction Act – which has left one of the bill’s Democrat authors deeply frustrated with the White House.
“But today I want to talk about another instance of presidential overreach – the Biden administration’s decision to use the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act to deny federal funding to school hunting and archery programs.
“The provision of the bill the administration is citing as justification for its decision denied federal funding for training or arming teachers and school resource officers.
“It was not intended to prevent hunting safety training or deny students the opportunity to participate in archery programs.
“In fact, neither hunting nor archery is ever mentioned in the legislation.
“But, characteristically, the Biden administration has decided to make use of this provision to further advance its far-left agenda.
“Mr. President, for the sake of the Biden administration, which frequently seems completely out of touch with rural America, let me just talk about hunting for a minute.
“Hunting is a venerable institution in rural communities.
“It’s about gathering meat to fill the freezer, yes, but it’s about so much more than that.
“It’s about community.
“Coming together around the table.
“Conservation and respect for the land.
“My dad taught me and my siblings to hunt, and while we learned how to bag roosters, we also learned a lot of life lessons – from patience to perseverance to gun safety.
“I cherish those times with my dad, and the times I spend today hunting with my siblings and my sons-in-law.
“And school districts should have the choice of spending their federal extracurricular dollars on programs that teach kids how to carry on this venerable tradition safely and responsibly.
“HuntSAFE for Schools, which teaches hunting safety in South Dakota schools, uses nonfunctional guns to teach kids about hunting, with, and I quote, ‘an emphasis on firearm safety and responsibility.’
“And these kinds of programs have an effect.
“Learning to safely handle firearms results in a decrease in firearm-related injuries and accidents.
“And hunting education programs have contributed to a steep decline in hunting accidents.
“Funding these programs in schools seems like a good thing to do to promote safer communities.
“And as for archery – I am at a complete loss as to why the Biden administration would seek to deny federal funding to these programs.
“The National Archery in the Schools Program, which has 1.3 million students in nearly 9,000 schools in 49 states enrolled in archery programs, offers students the opportunity to experience all the benefits of an accessible and inclusive sport that teaches everything from personal excellence to perseverance.
“The National Archery in the Schools Program reports that 58 percent of participating students say they feel more connected to their school, 40 percent feel more engaged in the classroom, and a whopping 91 percent pursue or want to pursue other outdoor activities as a result of their archery participation.
“Once again, school districts should have the choice of spending their federal extracurricular dollars on programs like this that unquestionably meet the goal of helping to offer students a well-rounded education.
“And it is a use of those dollars that Congress never sought to ban – as, I suspect, the Biden administration is well aware.
“Mr. President, there have already been reports of schools canceling plans to include hunting or archery education in their curricula as a result of the Biden administration’s directive.
“The Biden administration needs to immediately reverse its decision before more programs are canceled and more kids lose out on opportunities to develop the confidence, skills, and sense of community that come from participating in these programs.
“Mr. President, I have little hope that the Biden administration will rein in its radical agenda, or stop using its regulatory power to impose its far-left visions.
“But I am grateful that both Democrats and Republicans are raising questions about this particular instance of Biden administration overreach.
“And I hope that we can continue to work to curb the Biden administration’s regulatory excesses and prevent Americans from suffering the painful consequences of the president’s radical policies.
“Mr. President, I yield the floor.”