In October, North Dakota received a visit from three cabinet officials in the Trump administration in just six days: Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie, Interior Secretary David Bernhardt and EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. This unprecedented attentiveness demonstrates President Trump’s commitment to middle America, as well as the benefits of our complimentary committee assignments in the Senate, which culminate in the ability of North Dakota to punch above its weight class.
The first of these visits was Wilkie. We invited him to see the excellent work being done both at the Fargo VA facilities and at Healing with Hyperbarics in Fargo. With Sen. John Hoeven serving on the Senate Veterans Affairs Appropriations Committee, and Sen. Kevin Cramer serving on the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, we are able to ensure the VA continues to provide veterans with the health care and benefits they have earned. We also challenged them to be innovative by including access to alternative mental health treatment options, like Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy.
The next visit came from Bernhardt, who began his trip with a landowners roundtable in Hope and ended with a visit to Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Cramer’s jurisdiction over the Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service from his seat on the Environment and Public Works Committee gave landowners the opportunity to voice their concerns over Waterfowl Production Area Easement enforcement with the secretary, while Hoeven’s jurisdiction over the National Park Service through his role on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee provided an excellent opportunity to address TRNP’s maintenance needs with the secretary and work to secure support to construct the Theodore Roosevelt Presidential Library. This trip spanned east to west and highlighted the concerns and priorities our constituents have brought to us.
Wheeler was the final visit, which included a Waters of the United States roundtable, an MOU with Gov. Doug Burgum, and the announcement that Fargo-Moorhead region’s flood protection project has been selected to apply for $510 million in low-cost financing under the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act loan program. Cramer’s chairmanship of EPW’s subcommittee on Water—with Hoeven’s seat on the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Committee—allows for North Dakotans to continue leading on the WOTUS rule and to have our state’s needs heard.
That is why we invite these officials to North Dakota. Our complimentary committee assignments allow us to bring attention to the needs of North Dakotans and to put our constituents in a place to have their voices heard. North Dakota overwhelmingly supported this administration and they expect to be heard. Led by President Trump, who has visited our state three times himself, this administration has done an excellent job getting out to meet with real Americans in states like ours. In the nearly three years of this administration, more cabinet officials have visited us than the last four administrations combined. We thank them for their attentiveness, but more importantly, we look forward to their actions. North Dakotans understand talk is cheap, so as we head back to Washington, we plan to work with them to build on commitments these officials made and the lessons they learned during their visits.