Sen. John Thune
When Justice Antonin Scalia unexpectedly passed away last year, the country lost more than veteran of the Supreme Court. It lost a man who was universally respected by his colleagues in the courtroom, both behind and in front of the bench, and a man who will undoubtedly go down as one of the most brilliant legal minds in American history. Justice Scalia's reverence for the law and Constitution was as evident in his written work as it was in his methodical and oftentimes witty oratory. He loved the court and his country, and his shoes will be big ones to fill.
The Republican-led Congress heard the American people loud and clear on Obamacare. The law is broken beyond repair, and Americans are looking for a better, more patient-centered approach. According to a recent poll, 80 percent of Americans want to see the law substantially changed or repealed and replaced entirely. In South Dakota alone, I've heard from hundreds of people who have been negatively affected by Obamacare, and it is heart wrenching to read some of their stories.
This month not only marks the beginning of a new year, but also the start of a new Congress. With new beginnings come new opportunities, and the 115th Congress is already off to a great start. On day one, I reintroduced legislation that would help advance rural broadband services in South Dakota and around the country. Expanding access to these necessities of modern life is key for states like South Dakota, and by passing my MOBILE NOW bill, Congress could take a big step toward laying the groundwork for the future of the nationwide 5G network.
For many South Dakotans, the presidential election probably dominated conversations with friends and family for much of the year. It's no surprise, considering how historic the election was from beginning to end. And while that certainly makes 2016 a year for the history books, I'm sure there are many other reasons why South Dakotans will remember the last 12 months and be thankful for the opportunities that came their way. So before we flip the calendar from 2016 to 2017, I wanted to share just a handful of reasons why this year has been so special for me.
I've worked hard over the last two years delivering on my promise to help get the Senate working more efficiently and effectively for the people of South Dakota. Because when hard-working taxpayers ask themselves if Washington is listening — if Washington is paying attention to their struggles — I want them to know the answer is yes, loud and clear. An accountable government begins with accountable representatives, and my work in Washington is committed to that end.
If you tuned in to C-SPAN today, you'd find a much different Senate than the one that existed just a few short years ago. In 2013 and 2014, under Democrat leadership, the Senate repeatedly chose politics and partisanship over bipartisanship and efficiency. The legislative process, including the important work done in our committees, nearly ground to a halt. Only backroom, cherry-picked bills chosen by Democrat leaders made it to the floor.
Growing up in a small town has its advantages and disadvantages, depending on who you ask. But if you ask me, my siblings, or my dad who still lives in the house we all grew up in, there's nothing but upside.
When I'm home in South Dakota, I spend a lot of my time traveling the state to hear from farmers, ranchers, small business owners and moms and dads about the issues important to them.
Few monuments or landmarks in the United States are more iconic or offer greater patriotic symbolism than does Mount Rushmore. Beginning in 1927, Gutzon Borglum helped transform a seemingly innocuous rock face in the Black Hills into the stoic and easily recognizable faces of Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln, which millions of visitors travel each year to see. Over 14 years of hot summers and cold winters, and with the help of 400 workers using chisels, jackhammers, and dynamite, Mount Rushmore was completed 75 years ago on Oct. 31, 1941.
When South Dakotans picture opening day of pheasant season, they see unharvested corn and milo fields, sloughs, shelterbelts, and food plots lined with hunters — often friends and family, conspicuous in their bright orange clothing. Although shooting a limit of pheasants isn't the mark of a successful hunt, the allure of the "Pheasant Capital of the World" is why hunters from across the United States gather in South Dakota every third Saturday in October to participate in this world-class event and renew or create family memories and traditions.