Congratulating ND National Guard Generals for their Service and Promotion
On Saturday I attended a North Dakota National Guard ceremony honoring Brigadier General Todd Branden for his retirement and celebrating the promotion of Darrin Anderson as his replacement.
North Dakota's National Guard represents the best of the best, and that starts with the excellent leadership at the top. I am grateful to General Branden for his years of service and thankful to General Anderson for answering the call to serve our country. The United States is a safer and more secure place because of the work done by our guardsmen.
President Biden Unveils Infrastructure Spending Package
President Biden unveiled a $2 trillion spending package at the end of March. By using one of the most bipartisan policies in Congress – infrastructure – as a tool for more partisan goals like climate and taxes, I worry the President will squander whatever remaining goodwill he has with Republicans.
I am open to expanding the Highway Trust Fund by finding a way to expand revenues with some sort of equitable user fee which accounts for more energy efficient and electric vehicles. I would welcome easing regulations that lower the cost of developing everything from highways and bridges to transmission lines, pipelines, export terminals, rail facilities, broadband connectivity, and more. This will make tax dollars go further and attract much more in private investment.
If Democrats insist on adding to the federal debt, that money would be better used for infrastructure that provides an asset to move commerce while creating jobs in its construction and maintenance than just giving it away to nonproductive activity.
President Takes Aim at Second Amendment with Latest Executive Action
Last Thursday President Biden announced several executive orders aimed at gun control.
The Second Amendment is a foundational part of our country and key to protecting our freedoms. Diminishing the ability of law-abiding citizens to exercise that right won't make our streets safer, but it could put good people in harm's way. President Biden is overstepping his legal authority and undermining the Constitution, taking action which will encourage states to enact extreme gun control legislation and limit the ways people can protect themselves and their families.
The administration should consider enforcing the laws we already have in place and focus on mental health efforts to address the root cause of violence, not unilaterally weaponizing the federal government to infringe upon the American people's fundamental rights.
Bipartisan Bill Would Encourage Carbon Capture Projects
Senators Tina Smith (D-MN) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) introduced legislation I cosponsored named the Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage Tax Credit Amendments Act.
North Dakota is leading the way in the development of clean, reliable energy by investing and applying carbon capture and use technologies to lignite, oil, and ethanol facilities.
By extending and expanding access to carbon capture tax credits, our bipartisan bill would allow innovators in our state to increase their investments, further research the technologies, and ultimately lower emissions.
Legislation to Expand Natural Gas Exports
I joined Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) in introducing the Natural Gas Export Expansion Act, a bill to eliminate onerous regulations which discourage liquefied natural gas trade and to increase LNG exports to the 160-plus countries in the World Trade Organization.
Energy security is national security. Bolstering America's liquefied natural gas industry would help keep Americans safe and employed in good paying jobs, all while lowering global emissions. Our bill would remove burdensome regulations surrounding liquefied natural gas and allow American producers to sell their premier product around the world.
New Bill to Prohibit Illegal Migrants from Getting 'Free Pass' into the Country
Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) and I, along with our colleagues, introduced legislation to require the Department of Homeland Security to issue a Notice to Appear (NTA) in court prior to releasing any migrant who illegally entered into the United States. By not providing a NTA, the government loses control of who is being released into the states and deprives migrants of the opportunity to make legitimate asylum claims before an immigration judge.
Our system is overwhelmed by the crisis at our border, and we have now resorted to releasing illegal migrants into the country with no real way to ensure they return for their court date. Our bill would help clean up President Biden's mess by prohibiting illegal immigrants from being released without a notice to appear in immigration court.
Regulatory Legislation to Improve Government Transparency
Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) is leading a bill called the Guidance Out of Darkness (GOOD) Act, which would require federal agencies to publish their regulatory guidance on the internet in an easily accessible location.
Only the federal bureaucracy would find it normal to issue guidance governing the American people, then hide it from them. The Trump Administration recognized this problem and took action resembling our legislation. Under that transparency initiative, we were able to make several improvements to otherwise onerous federal regulations but President Biden repealed it when he entered office. Our legislation reverses President Biden's poor decision and ensures regulatory guidance is published online, which will increase transparency and accountability throughout the federal government.
Letter Urges Defense Department to Prevent Politicization of Military
Senators Tommy Tuberville (R-AL), Roger Wicker (R-MS), and I sent a letter to Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin expressing our concerns with recent trainings conducted by branches of the U.S. military.
Secretary Austin's directive to identify and remove extremism from the military is appropriate, but the implementation of the trainings falls well short of the military's standards.
"Your directive to purge the department of extremism follows in the long tradition of the United States military protecting the rights and liberties of all Americans. … Yet your tempered, thoughtful approach lost its way in translation to the services. An examination of the stand-down training materials reveals a disappointing partisan slant and poorly-defined First Amendment rights for military members."
Bipartisan Bill Would Extend VA Health Benefits to WWII Veterans
Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and I introduced the WWII Veterans Hospital and Medical Eligibility Act, bipartisan legislation to ensure all World War II (WWII) veterans have access to health care services provided by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). Current eligibility limits in the law have prevented some WWII veterans from receiving these benefits. We previously introduced this bill in the 116th Congress.
The world is a better place today thanks to the service and sacrifice of those who fought against tyranny during World War II. We should give them the highest quality care available without a second thought. Our bill removes any roadblocks preventing these patriots from accessing the assistance they need and deserve.
Bipartisan, Bicameral Bill to Help More Americans Access Jobs Training, Gain Employment
I joined Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Rob Portman (R-OH) in introducing the Jumpstart Our Businesses By Supporting Students (JOBS) Act, bipartisan and bicameral legislation to make high-quality, shorter-term education and training programs eligible for federal Pell Grants.
Our economy is only as strong as our workforce. By Increasing access to job training programs and other in demand career pathways, we are preparing the next generation of workers to meet the opportunities of tomorrow. The JOBS Act is a commonsense way to open more doors for students by diversifying the educational opportunities available to them.
Bipartisan Resolution Honors VSO's for Support Veterans during COVID-19
My Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee colleagues and I have a bipartisan resolution honoring Veterans Service Organizations (VSO's) for their work supporting veterans amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Since their inception, Veterans Service Organizations have always supported and advocated on behalf of members of the Armed Forces, veterans, and their families. They have adapted to the unique challenges posed by the pandemic in order to continue to support veterans and advocate for the veteran community."
Resolution Calls for Mutually Beneficial U.S. - U.K. Trade Agreement
I joined a resolution led by Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) recognizing the mutual history and special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom. The resolution expresses the Sense of the Senate that the President should lay the groundwork for a mutually advantageous trade agreement between the U.S. and the U.K.
"Since the end of World War II, the United States and the United Kingdom have been beacons of freedom to the world, standing together in the fight against tyranny. The special relationship between the United States and the United Kingdom has driven economic prosperity and security cooperation in both nations for more than 70 years."
"The President, with the support of Congress, should work to conclude negotiations for a comprehensive future trade agreement between the United States and the United Kingdom. The President, in consultation with Congress, should strive to reach a mutually advantageous resolution of commercial disagreements between the United States and the United Kingdom."
Letter Slams Biden Administration for Renewed Aid to Palestinian Authority
Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) led a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken regarding President Biden's plan to send a reported $75 million in general economic support payments from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the U.S. State Department into territories controlled by the Palestinian Authority (PA) and the Iran-backed terrorist group Hamas.
"We call on you to halt these expenditures until the State Department accounts for statutory restrictions and remedies known deficiencies in the distribution of such assistance, which have for years promoted and facilitated terrorism against Americans and Israelis. The PA has funneled hundreds of millions of dollars every year to reward Palestinian terrorists and their families, with increased rewards in proportion to increased casualties."
Legislation Targets Beijing's Influence at American Colleges
The Chinese Communist Party will take any opportunity it can to indoctrinate American students. I joined Senator Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) in introducing the Transparency for Confucius Institutes Act which would require program participation agreements between the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) agency which administers educational programs, known as the Hanban, and American institutions to address the ways in which Beijing exerts undue influence through Confucius Institutes.
Our bill shines a light on China's activities and increases accountability measures to keep its propaganda out of our schools.
Bipartisan Legislation Encourages Healthy Living
Helping Americans improve their physical health and wellbeing has far-reaching benefits for our country. I have signed onto a bill led by Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) called the Personal Health Investment Today Act. This encourages more physical activity in the United States and incentivizes healthier living by allowing Americans to use a portion of the money saved in their pre-tax health savings account and/or flexible spending account for qualified sports and fitness purchases like gym memberships, fitness equipment, and youth sports league fees.
Our bipartisan bill gives Americans more control over their savings and encourages them to make healthy choices, get active, and hopefully avoid the onset of costly consequences of unhealthy living.
Letter Seeks Help for Travel and Tourism Industry
Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), and I, co-chairs of the Senate Travel and Tourism Caucus, sent a letter to U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo requesting information on actions the Department is taking to ensure the travel and tourism industry's full economic recovery following the pandemic.
“Recent reports estimate that travel spending in the U.S. has declined by nearly $500 billion since 2019, with a loss of nearly one million travel-related jobs since last February. Behind statistics like this are thousands of tourism workers and restaurants, hotels, small businesses, in the travel and tourism industry struggling to make ends meet. … We look forward to working with you to bolster the recovery of the travel and tourism industry.”
Grants for North Dakota
North Dakota Airports Awarded $3.6 Million
The U.S. Department of Transportation through the Federal Aviation Administration awarded 11 grants to North Dakota airports totaling $3,607,372. The funds come through the Coronavirus Relief and Response Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act of 2020.
HHS Awards Funds in North Dakota for Research, Health Care
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded the following two grants in North Dakota totaling $2,067,800:
- $1,472,800 to the North Dakota Department of Health, and
- $595,000 to North Dakota State University for biomedical research.
North Dakota Receives $1.1 Million to Help Seniors Transition to Home Care from Nursing Facilities
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded $1,130,046 to the North Dakota Department of Human Services. The funds come through Money Follows the Person, a Medicaid program designed to help seniors and individuals with disabilities transition out of nursing homes and into their homes or the homes of their loved ones.
Dakota Manufacturing Extension Partnership Receives Annual Funding to Support US Manufacturing
The U.S. Department of Commerce's National Institute of Standards and Technology has renewed its annual funding of $700,000 to the Dakota Manufacturing Extension Partnership Inc. The funds come through the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), which provides federal funding for the MEP National Network members in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.
North Dakota Receives Funds to Improve Airport System
The U.S. Department of Transportation awarded $600,000 to the State of North Dakota. The funds will be used to update an existing study of the airport system within North Dakota to reevaluate the state's air transportation needs.
USDA Awards $479k to NDSU
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture awarded $479,628 to North Dakota State University (NDSU). The funds will be used for research on enzymes, digestion, and dietary fibers.
As recommended by the Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), our in-state offices are taking precautions to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Our staff members are available by phone or email and are taking in-person meetings by appointment only.
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Weekly Radio and TV Schedule
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