Rep. Kristi Noem
March 4, 1797, marked one of the most important days in American history: the inauguration of our second president and the first transition of power.
Expectations are high for the 115th Congress, which was sworn in the first week of January, but I'm optimistic that we've matched those expectations with an aggressive, common sense agenda. More importantly, there has been no hesitation in getting to work on that agenda. Less than 100 hours from the time I took the Oath of Office for the fourth time, the House of Representatives passed the REINS Act, a bill I cosponsored to stop the overreach of federal regulators.
The swearing-in ceremony on Jan. 3 marked the official start of the 115th Congress, but our work to prepare for these next two years has been ongoing for months. Last summer, House Republicans introduced a once-in-a-generation blueprint for the reforms we feel are necessary to move this country forward. In late December after most of Congress had gone home for the holidays, I — along with just 23 other members of the House Ways and Means Committee — came back to Washington, D.C. to hammer out two critical sections of this blueprint: tax reform and health care reform.
One of my favorite times of the year farming was the day we started to put the seed in the ground, because on that day, the seed had every opportunity to produce a high-yielding harvest. The next few months would require hard work to help that seed mature — and we'd need to pray that factors outside our control would cooperate as well — but that was all yet to come; planting was a day of hope and opportunity.
Being South Dakota's lone voice in the U.S. House of Representatives has been the honor of a lifetime. With the current administration in place, progress on big issues — like tax reform and the repeal and replacement of Obamacare — has been slow, but I'm confident change will come soon. Still, many things have been accomplished. In fact, during the 114th Congress, we were able to come together on the more than 240 bills that were signed into law.
It's no wonder why more than half of Americans oppose Obamacare. Week after week, I talk with South Dakotans who are seeing their health insurance premiums increase by hundreds, sometimes thousands, of dollars per year. Despite the cost hikes, many are also finding that the 2017 options have larger deductibles, which often translates into higher out-of-pocket expenses too. Like I said, it's no wonder.
My grandma gave me one of the best pieces of advice I've ever received, which I'd venture to guess is typical for almost everyone. When I was about to become a new mom, she told me, "As a parent, you're going to have to say no to a lot of things. Say yes as often as you can." So, when my kids wanted to race to the end of the driveway, we did. When they wanted to play in the mud, we did. When they wanted to play basketball outside a little past their bedtimes, we laced up our shoes and hit the pavement.
Not every family's path to parenthood is easy. Many people struggle in ways that can be devastating for a family to endure. Pat and Julie Schneider, of Turton, are one of those couples. They struggled with infertility for nearly a decade before looking into adoption as an option for their family. Because November is National Adoption Month, I wanted to share a piece of their journey through adoption, hoping it can serve as encouragement and inspiration to others.
A woman reached out to our office recently. Her husband, a veteran now, was a medic in the Iraq War. While he's returned home, she told us "it really is like he never came back." He, like as many as one in five Iraq War veterans, suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD.
It's hard for me to really grasp how something like this happens in South Dakota. The website promised to connect "sugar daddies" with "sugar babies," which is repulsive in its own right. But that's the website where, according to recent press reports, an area doctor appears to have met a young girl and arranged for her to travel from Georgia to Sioux Falls for sex. He was brought up on trafficking charges earlier this month. It's another stark reminder that human trafficking isn't just happening worlds away. It's happening in our backyards.