South Dakota’s wide open spaces mean the nearest hospital or airport can be many miles away. Without question, adequate federal funding and the stability provided by a long-term transportation bill ensures that federally eligible highways and bridges are properly maintained, keeping roads safe for South Dakota families and ensuring efficient movement of the commercial vehicles vital to a host of SD industries. Since being elected to Congress, I have been a strong advocate for infrastructure funding to ensure South Dakota’s transportation needs are met.

I also have the privilege of serving as chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee which has direct oversight of the U.S. Department of Transportation. Our committee oversees various modes of transportation ranging from the Federal Aviation Administration, the Transportation Security Administration, and the U.S. Coast Guard which are all critical for interstate commerce to function. The Commerce Committee oversees various transportation safety and regulatory bodies, such as: the Federal Railroad Administration, National Transportation Safety Board, Surface Transportation Board, and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which oversees commercial trucking and interstate bus carriers.

On December 4, 2015, the bipartisan Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act was signed into law. The FAST Act contains several Thune-led transportation and safety initiatives that benefit South Dakota, including provisions that were included in the Senate’s multi-year transportation bill that passed earlier this summer. Senator Thune championed provisions that lead to increased highway investment levels in South Dakota, including an increase in tribal transportation investment levels; provided relief for hours of service regulations for truck drivers transporting bees or livestock; rewards states like South Dakota for its innovative 24/7 sobriety program; and creates a freight rail formula program that stands to benefit South Dakota.