Senate Space Force Caucus Meets
I convened the first Senate Space Force Caucus meeting of the 117th Congress on Friday. As one of the Co-Chairs of the caucus, I began the event – conducted virtually – delivering remarks on the importance of Space Force. This was followed by presentations by Major General Leah Lauderback, Space Force's Director of Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance; and Mr. Brad Edmonson, Chief of Intelligence, Analysis, and Production.
Foreign adversaries like Russia and China are actively using space to weaken the United States and prepare to carry out attacks against us. To protect the safety and security of the American people, we have to properly counter that threat by bolstering our presence in this emerging domain.
I appreciate my Senate Space Force Caucus colleagues who joined Friday's event and Maj. Gen. Lauderback and Mr. Edmonson who led a thorough conversation about why we must properly stand up Space Force. I look forward to using this caucus as an avenue to discuss solutions and support the growth of our nation's newest military branch and Intelligence Community member.
Making the Case for a Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill
Environment and Public Works Hearing
On Wednesday the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing on transportation infrastructure. I highlighted the importance of maintaining the current infrastructure project funding formula – which ensures small population states with expansive road systems receive sufficient resources – in any future infrastructure reform package.
I also questioned the hearing's panelists about properly funding future transportation infrastructure efforts. I highlighted the impending conflict of using the Highway Trust Fund – a user fee system funded by gas taxes – to pay for the rapid investment in electric vehicle infrastructure, given that owners of such cars do not pay into the road system they use. Creating a modernized, stable funding source will require a holistic funding approach. The system needs to be modernized, but increased funding should not be achieved solely on the backs of middle-income Americans.
Op-Ed in Washington Times
I wrote an opinion piece published in the Washington Times on how infrastructure investment should be a national priority, not a talking point.
"High-paying jobs would be better for the American people than stimulus checks or additional unemployment payments. A reduction of harmful federal mandates would be more helpful for economic recovery than mandating a drastic, unilateral minimum wage hike. Building a robust transportation infrastructure that moves our products and people will lift every sector of the economy and position us to better compete globally. If the Administration wants to spend trillions on short-term spending measures, let’s invest billions on infrastructure to create immediate economic opportunity and usable transportation systems which will benefit this generation and the next ones."
Armed Services Committee Holds Hearing on Defense Department's Response to COVID-19
On Thursday the Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing on the Defense Department's response to COVID-19. I thanked the North Dakota National Guard for its response efforts and secured a commitment from General Gustave Perna, the top military leader of the federal government's COVID-19 vaccine efforts, to speak with Fargo biotechnology company Aldevron about its ability to assist in response efforts.
Senate Continues Considering President Biden's Cabinet Nominees
Senate Confirms Thomas Vilsack as Agriculture Secretary
The Senate confirmed Thomas Vilsack as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Tuesday.
No one can beat North Dakota's producers and landowners. They are the backbone of our state's economy, and the decisions made at the Department of Agriculture greatly impact them. I look forward to working with Secretary Vilsack to ensure North Dakota's agricultural community has the tools it needs to keep feeding and fueling the world.
Opposing Linda Thomas-Greenfield as Ambassador to the United Nations
I voted against the nomination of Linda Thomas-Greenfield to be President Joe Biden's Ambassador to the United Nations on Tuesday.
The Chinese Communist Party is one of the biggest threats the world faces. It regularly engages in market distorting practices which hurt American producers. It is ramping up its presence in space to weaken ours. It caused a global health pandemic and hid it from the world. Every day, it is carrying out horrendous acts of genocide against their own people.
Yet despite all of this, President Biden has been either uninterested or unable to successfully articulate a plan to properly counteract its efforts, and his choice for Ambassador to the United Nations is another example of his failure to properly address this issue. The Biden Administration needs to get serious about developing a comprehensive response to the Chinese Communist Party and should nominate people who will be capable of carrying it out.
Opposing Xavier Becerra as HHS Secretary Nominee
I announced my opposition to Xavier Becerra, the Attorney General of California and President Joe Biden's choice to be Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Health care is too important to the American people for us to let someone so unqualified and extreme be put in charge of it. Besides supporting partial-birth abortion, it appears the closest Mr. Becerra has come to working on health care issues is either suing Little Sisters of the Poor to overrule their religious objections and force them to provide contraceptives, or advocating for a government takeover of health care that would bankrupt the nation, eliminate the plans of millions of Americans, and ruin the industry as we know it.
He is a terrible, unserious choice by President Biden, and preventing someone as ill-prepared as he is from taking the job is a prime example of why the Senate's advise and consent role is so important. I urge my colleagues to join me in opposing his nomination.
Confirming Jennifer Granholm as Energy Secretary
The Senate confirmed Jennifer Granholm as Energy Secretary on Thursday.
North Dakota is a world leader in energy production, and we are set to contribute greatly to the future of the industry. The actions of the Energy Department affect everything in our state from the nuclear assets at the Minot Air Force Base to carbon capture research at the University of North Dakota's Energy and Environmental Research Center in Grand Forks, and we enjoyed an excellent partnership with the previous administration built on advancing these priorities. I hope to establish a similarly successful relationship with Secretary Granholm.
Strengthening Local Processing Act
I joined Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) in reintroducing the Strengthening Local Processing Act, bipartisan legislation to provide much-needed federal support to America's small meat and poultry processors and help strengthen and streamline their operations.
The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated why we need to strengthen America's food supply chain. North Dakota's ranchers work hard to raise the highest-quality livestock on the market. Our legislation would assist them by creating a more competitive and diversified processing industry, ensuring they can continue feeding the nation and the world.
Armed Services Committee Holds Hearing on Technology Impact on National Security
On Tuesday the Senate Armed Services Committee received testimony on emerging technologies and their impact on national security. The panel included former CEO of Google Dr. Eric E. Schmidt, President of Microsoft Brad Smith, and General (ret.) Herbert Carlisle, a former four-star general in the Air Force. I questioned the witnesses on process improvements for disputed military contracts and skills-based immigration reform.
Hospitality and Commerce Job Recovery Act of 2021
Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and I introduced the Hospitality and Commerce Job Recovery Act, bipartisan legislation to provide comprehensive relief and recovery measures for the convention, trade show, entertainment, travel, and hospitality industries and their workers.
Many industries involving tourism and travel were the first to be hurt by COVID-19 and could be the last to fully recover. Our bill provides help to some of the hardest hit businesses, encourages employee retention, and incentivizes families to travel when it is safe to do so.
Resolution Opposing Lifting Iran Sanctions
I joined Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR) and 44 other members of Congress in introducing a bicameral resolution to oppose lifting sanctions on Iran. The United States must maintain sanctions on the Iranian regime until it abandons its nuclear ambitions and ends its supports for violence and terror around the region. Iran took advantage of weak policies during the Obama Administration, and President Biden must not repeat those same mistakes.
National Right to Work Act
I joined Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) in reintroducing the National Right to Work Act.
There is no reason people should be forced to join a union if they want a job. Such mandates are designed to benefit politically-motivated union bosses who want to spend union dues on their own interests rather than on the priorities of the workers they claim to represent. It's no wonder the vast majority of Americans support our legislation, which protects workers' rights and gives them more control over their hard-earned money.
USDA Establishes Dealer Statutory Trust to Protect Livestock Sellers
I applauded the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service Wednesday for establishing a new Dealer Statutory Trust to Protect Livestock Sellers. I helped introduce legislation to establish the trust and worked to secure its passage last December.
The Dealer Statutory Trust protects livestock producers when they need to recoup outstanding costs or livestock in the event of a dealer default. I appreciate the Agriculture Department's quick implementation, and I look forward to making sure it works properly for our producers.
Major Richard Star Act
I joined VA Committee Chairman Jon Tester (D-MT) and VA Committee Ranking Member Jerry Moran (R-KS) in introducing the Major Richard Star Act, bipartisan legislation to provide combat-injured veterans with less than 20 years of military service their full benefits.
Military retirement pay and disability payments are two completely different benefits. One should not diminish the merits of the other, but veterans are being denied their rightfully earned retirement pay because they incurred a disability as a result of combat action. Our bipartisan legislation fixes this discrepancy, allowing veterans to receive the full benefits they have earned and deserve.
I joined Senators Jim Inhofe (R-OK) and Patty Murray (D-WA) in introducing the Continuity for Operators with Necessary Training Required for ATC Contract Towers (CONTRACT) Act of 2021, bipartisan legislation to remove the disincentive for retired Federal Aviation Administration air traffic controllers to work at federal contract towers.
Meeting the U.S. SRATCOM Commander
I had a good conversation Thursday with U.S. STRATCOM Commander Admiral Charles Richard. We discussed how our military's foundational strategies are built on a credible nuclear deterrent and how dire it would be if we fail to modernize our nuclear arsenal. I am thankful for his service and his time.
Calls with North Dakota Health Officials
National Association of County and City Health Officials
I was happy to talk to Bismarck-Burleigh Public Health Director Renae Moch and Grand Forks Public Health Specialist Ashlee Nelson on Wednesday about COVID-19. I'm grateful for their insight on the challenges our state faces and our ability to respond to the pandemic.
North Dakota Medical Association
I joined members of the North Dakota Medical Association by phone on Wednesday as part of the American Medical Association annual conference. We discussed issues important to North Dakota's health, including telemedicine and mental health. I'm thankful for their time and efforts.
Meeting with North Dakota Students at the Senate Youth Program
I started my day on Thursday speaking with two phenomenal North Dakota students, Micah Schlittenhardt and Athalia Kay Haughton, who are participating in the Senate Youth program. I'm impressed with their ambition and drive to advance causes like mental health and Alzheimer's disease. The nation's future is in good hands.
Resolution Celebrates Black History Month
Throughout February we had the opportunity to honor and learn more about the monumental contributions of Black Americans to our nation.
I was happy to cosponsor a resolution led by Senators Tim Scott (R-NC) and Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) celebrating Black History Month.
Grants for North Dakota
FWS Awards $554k to Protect Vulnerable North Dakota Wildlife
The U.S. Department of the Interior's Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) awarded $554,960 to North Dakota. The funds come through the State Wildlife Grant Program and will be used to conserve imperiled wildlife and their habitats using the best available scientifically-backed practices.
HHS Awards $2.5 Million in Head Start Funds to North Dakota Tribes
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued two grants in North Dakota totaling $2,593,839 to Three Affiliated Tribes and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. The funds come through the Head Start and Early Head Start programs, which promote school readiness for young children and toddlers from low-income families by enhancing their cognitive, social, and emotional development as well as early learning, health, and family well-being.
EDA Awards CARES Act Funding to Build Career Workforce Academy in Fargo
The U.S. Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration (EDA) awarded $1.5 million to North Dakota State College of Science Foundation. The funds come through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act and will be used to build a Career Workforce Academy in Fargo which is expected to create over 100 jobs. The academy will provide high school students, traditional college students, and adult learners the opportunity to gain skills in agriculture, manufacturing and engineering, health care and allied sciences, architecture and construction, and information technology.
By investing in North Dakota's education system, these CARES Act funds will help create more economic opportunities in the state, both now and in the future. Building a Career Workforce Academy in Fargo will strengthen and broaden the potential of our state’s workers. I am glad this project has secured more assistance to help it advance toward completion.
HHS Awards $1.3 Million in Head Start Funds to Cankdeska Cikana Community College
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded $1,381,488 to Cankdeska Cikana Community College. The funds come through the Head Start and Early Head Start programs, which promote school readiness for young children and toddlers from low-income families by enhancing their cognitive, social, and emotional development as well as early learning, health, and family well-being.
NPS Awards $1.1 Million for State and Tribal Preservation
The National Parks Service (NPS) awarded five grants in North Dakota totaling $1,150,389 for state and tribal preservation. The State of North Dakota received $787,991 to fund and support preservation programs and efforts, and four tribes in North Dakota also received funds.
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
What's On Your Mind with Scott Hennen
Fridays from 10:00 to 11:00 a.m. central
KFYR 550 AM - Bismarck
1100 The Flag - Fargo
KLTC 1460 AM - Dickinson
KTGO 1090 AM - Tioga
WDAY 970 AM - Fargo
The Jarrod Thomas Show
Thursdays from 10:00 to 10:30 a.m. central
KNOX 1310 AM - Grand Forks
Thursdays from 10:30 to 11:00 a.m. central
KHND 1470 AM - Harvey
Every other Tuesday from 3:00 to 3:30 p.m. central
WDAY 970 AM – Fargo
Chris Berg - Point of View
6:30 p.m. central (Semi-Monthly)
Valley News Live - Fargo
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