HURON – Embattled Sen. Al Franken’s decision to resign as one of Minnesota’s Democratic senators differs from the litany of sexual misconduct allegations against President Trump because voters were aware of them when they elected Trump 13 months ago, Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., said Thursday.
A couple hours before Rounds hosted his weekly conference call with reporters, Franken announced he will resign in the coming weeks, saying he could not be effective in the Senate if he remained while an ethics probe moved forward.
“Clearly, the allegations against the president were in front of the American people before the election,” Rounds said.
“The American people looked at that and they based their decision with full knowledge of those allegations,” he said.
He said members of the Senate can express their support for Trump when they believe he’s correct and voice their doubts when they think he’s doing things inappropriately, Rounds said.
“He’s not a member of the Senate,” he said. “Clearly, there are limits as to what we have the power to do to express our disappointment.”
Above all, he said he and others in the chamber want the president to succeed.
Mean-while, Rounds said he’s grown increasingly frustrated in his three years in Washington, D.C., with congressional delays in passing the dozen appropriations bills each year.
He expected the House to pass a bill late Thursday afternoon on a continuing resolution that funds the government through Dec. 22.
In two weeks, it will force the issue yet again before Congress recesses for the Christmas break, he said.
Since he joined the Senate in 2015, Rounds has called for a long-term solution to passing the appropriations bills rather than a series of continuing resolutions.
Inaction has had a serious impact on the military, in particular, he said.
“Congress is not getting the job done in a timely fashion,” Rounds said.
When the bill comes to the Senate, he said he plans to vote against a continuing resolution.
“I think it’s high time we send a message that we’re going to get our work done on time,” Rounds said.
Budget issues should have been resolved in August or September for a fiscal year that began the first of October, he said.
With Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., and Rep. Kristi Noem, R-S.D., serving on the committee that will reconcile the differences in the House and Senate versions of the GOP tax cut and jobs act, Rounds said he believes Congress is moving in the right direction.
The goal is to allow businesses to be more competitive with foreign enterprises and to grow the economy, he said.
In addition, families will be allowed to keep more of their paychecks, he said.
Families with the average national income of $73,000 a year will realize $2,200 in tax relief, Rounds said. Parents will have a $2,000 deduction per child rather than $1,000, he said, depending on where the compromise in the two houses winds up.
Also, 90 percent of families will be able to file the short tax form.
“That truly is tax simplification all by itself,” Rounds said.