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Mike Rounds' Issue Positions (Political Courage Test)



Official Position: Candidate addressed this issue directly by taking the Political Courage Test.

Inferred Position: Candidate refused to address this issue, but Vote Smart inferred this issue based on the candidate's public record, including statements, voting record, and special interest group endorsements.

Unknown Position: Candidate refused to address this issue, or we could not infer an answer for this candidate despite exhaustive research of their public record.

Additional Information: Click on this icon to reveal more information about this candidate's position, from their answers or Vote Smart's research.

Other or Expanded Principles & Legislative Priorities are entered exactly as candidates submit them. Vote Smart does not edit for misspelled words, punctuation or grammar.

Mike Rounds has failed to provide voters with positions on key issues covered by the 2020 Political Courage Test, despite repeated requests from Vote Smart and voters like you.

What is the Political Courage Test?

Issue Positions

For Presidential and Congressional candidates who refuse to provide voters with their positions, Vote Smart has researched their public records to determine their likely responses. These issue positions are from 2020.

  • "While I do believe tax cuts are an important step to controlling our debt" (
  • "It will provide more jobs, bigger paychecks and a fairer tax system, especially to lower- and middle-income Americans who haven't seen a pay raise in nearly a decade." (
  • Voted in favor of HR 1 - Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. (
  • "The long-term driver of our federal debt and deficit remains the rapid, unchecked growth of mandatory payments, including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Already, spending on these mandatory payments, as well as interest on our debt, account for 70 percent of all federal spending. And, according to the latest budget outlook, this level is expected to rise to nearly 80 percent within the next ten years." (
  • Rated 0% by Alliance for Retired Americans. (
  • "While I do believe tax cuts are an important step to controlling our debt, the biggest driver of our debt is the rapid, unchecked growth of mandatory payments on safety net programs including Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. If we continue down our current path, in less than ten years 99 percent of all federal revenue will have to be spent on mandatory payments and interest on our sky-high debt. No amount of cuts to defense and other programs such as crop insurance, education, highways and bridges will have a meaningful effect on debt reduction without also controlling the cost of these mandatory payment programs." (
  • "The JUSTICE Act seeks to address bad behavior within our law enforcement community through reasonable, commonsense reforms that improve training, transparency and accountability. The overwhelming majority of police officers are upstanding citizens who risk their lives every day to keep our communities safe. We must stand with our law enforcement professionals, but also hold them accountable. We can do both and the JUSTICE Act helps us get there." (
  • "It is our duty to provide funding stability and avoid arbitrary budget caps that constrain defense spending below that which is required to protect our Nation. Failure to provide adequate, stable funding disrupts planning, impacts responsible obligation of critical funding resources, degrades readiness, and inhibits modernization, and there have been disturbing real-world consequences." (
  • "At a time of increased global uncertainty and unrest, it is critical that our men and women in uniform are in the best position possible to defend our great nation." (
  • Rated 93% by Center for Security Policy. (
  • "A healthy economy is dependent on a strong, safe and vibrant transportation system that allows us to move people, goods and commerce with ease." (
  • Voted in favor of HR 22 - Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act. (
  • "Lowering tax rates would incentivize companies to repatriate that money and invest it back into our economy." (
  • "It helped businesses by cutting the corporate tax rate to 21 percent from 35 percent, taking the U.S. from one of the highest to one of the lowest corporate tax rates in the world. Tax reform helped small businesses by creating the first-ever 20 percent deduction for pass-through business income." (
  • Voted in favor of HR 1 - Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. (
  • "U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) today issued the following statement after voting in favor of emergency COVID-19 relief legislation. It now must be passed by the House of Representatives, before being sent to President Trump for signature. As a nation, we're all feeling the effects of this unprecedented crisis. I'm glad we were able to come together to provide immediate, direct relief to South Dakota families and businesses, while at the same time taking steps to stabilize our economy. It is not a perfect bill, but it gets resources to state and local governments, who know the needs of their communities better than anyone else. It also removes regulatory barriers so businesses can get people the help they need during this time of crisis." (
  • Voted in favor of HR 748 - Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. (
  • "Mike believes in local control of education, and while standards are important, a "one size fits all" directive from the federal government does not serve our children well." (
  • Rated 0% by National Education Association. (
  • "Good energy policies include an "all of the above' approach that will strengthen our economy, create jobs and enhance our energy independence. I am pleased with the president's decision today to leave the misguided Paris Climate Agreement." (
  • Rated 100% by American Energy Alliance. (
  • "All forms of domestic energy should be pursued. Mike does not believe in higher taxes on energy producers." (
  • "However, I believe the best way to address the changing climate is through American innovation, not by unrealistic, unaffordable government mandates." (
  • Rated 7% by League of Conservation Voters. (
  • Signed a letter stating: "We write in support of EPA's proposal to repeal the so-called "Clean Power Plan" (CPP), published in the Federal Register on October 16, 2017." (
  • "The Green New Deal is an extreme proposal introduced earlier this year by a number of our Democrat colleagues in a misguided attempt to reduce carbon emissions." (
  • Rated 0% by Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. (
  • "I will continue to fight against the president's endless attack on our 2nd amendment rights." (
  • Voted in favor of S Amdt 667 - Health Care Freedom Act of 2017. (
  • "Mike opposes Obamacare and would work to repeal and replace it with market-based, patient-centered solutions. " (
  • "Obamacare needs to be repealed and replaced by a patient centered, market driven solution, that focuses on quality care for our loved ones. Obamacare threatens Medicare. We owe it to our seniors to make sure we have a solvent Medicare program" (
  • Voted in favor of HR 6201 - Families First Coronavirus Response Act. (
  • "The primary responsibility of the federal government is the defense of our nation, which includes strong border security," said Rounds. "The WALL Act will provide full funding for construction of a physical barrier along our southern border to protect against illegal immigration and stop those who wish to do us harm, such as terrorists, gang members and drug dealers, from entering the United States from the south. It pays for the wall by closing existing loopholes that allow illegal immigrants to receive federal benefits and increasing fines for illegal border crossings and visa overstays." (
  • "Border security is national security. Glad to see @realDonaldTrump ’s border wall system is working." (
  • "Joined @JimInhofe @SenTedCruz @SenJohnKennedy to introduce the WALL Act, which would fully fund the southern border wall & identifies specific funding sources to pay for it." (
  • "The fact that state and local governments release dangerous criminals who are here illegally should be of great concern to all Americans, whether or not they live near a sanctuary city," said Rounds. "This bill would protect American families by strengthening our borders and would make it easier for the federal government to deport criminals who are here illegally." (
  • Rated 93% by Center for Security Policy. (
  • "By imposing strong, enforceable sanctions against these nations, we are sending a strong message that the U.S. will not tolerate these acts of aggression. I thank President Trump for signing these sanctions into law today." (
  • "Once again the Administration is loosening sanctions on Iran in a way it told Congress it would not do," said Rounds. "The JCPOA was bad enough but providing Iran with further access to US dollars is simply wrong. It will only provide further opportunities to enrich this terrorist state." (
  • "The North Korean regime continues to threaten the U.S. and our allies with violence, weapons of mass destruction and cyberattacks. Such actions must not be tolerated. Increasing sanctions will apply pressure on the North Korean regime." (
  • Rated 93% by Center for Security Policy. (
  • "During his time in office, ISIL rose to prominence due to the administration's determination to withdraw all U.S. forces from Iraq." (
  • "The best way to strengthen our negotiating position with China is to re-engage with trading partners in that region, specifically those in the TPP. This will give us a tremendous advantage as we seek the best deal for South Dakota producers." (
  • "I urge Speaker Pelosi to take a vote on the USMCA, which is supported by a majority of Americans." (
  • Rated 0% by Public Citizen. (
This candidate has responded to a Political Courage Test in a previous election. As a continued effort to provide the American public with factual information on candidates running for public office, these archived responses are made available here.
The Political Courage Test asks candidates which items they will support if elected. It does not ask them to indicate which items they will oppose. Through extensive research of public polling data, we discovered that voters are more concerned with what candidates would support when elected to office, not what they oppose. If a candidate does not select a response to any part or all of any question, it does not necessarily indicate that the candidate is opposed to that particular item.

Indicate which principles you support (if any) concerning abortion.

a) Abortions should always be legally available.
b) Abortions should be legal only within the first trimester of pregnancy.
X c) Abortions should be legal only when pregnancy resulted from incest, rape, or when the life of the woman is endangered.
d) Abortions should be legal only when the life of the woman is endangered.
e) Abortions should always be illegal.
X f) Abortions should be limited by waiting periods and parental notification requirements.
X g) Prohibit the late-term abortion procedure known as "partial-birth" abortion.
h) Support "buffer zones" by requiring demonstrators to stay at least 15 feet away from abortion clinic doorways and driveways.
i) Other
No j) Should South Dakota government funding be provided to clinics and medical facilities that provide abortion services?

Indicate the principles you support (if any) concerning affirmative action. State government agencies should take race and sex into account in the following sectors:

No a) College and university admissions
No b) Public employment
No c) State contracting
d) Other

Indicate which principles you support (if any) to address crime.

a) Increase state funds for construction of state prisons and for hiring of additional prison staff.
b) Support contracting with private sector firms to build and/or manage state prisons.
X c) End parole for repeat violent felons.
d) Expand the use of the death penalty for additional circumstances relating to murder.
e) Oppose the death penalty.
f) Implement penalties other than incarceration for certain non-violent offenders.
X g) Inform communities when a convicted sex offender moves into the community.
h) Increase state funds for programs which rehabilitate and educate inmates during and after their prison sentences.
i) Decriminalize the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.
j) Strengthen penalties and sentences for drug-related crimes.
k) Strengthen penalties and sentences for sex offenders.
l) Lower the limit defining drunk driving to .08 blood alcohol content.
X m) Prosecute juveniles who commit murder or other serious violent crimes as adults.
n) Eliminate the early release option for prison inmates who accumulate good time.
X o) Support the current Boot Camp program for juvenile criminal offenders.
p) Other

Indicate which principles you support (if any) concerning the economy and employment.

X a) Provide low interest loans and tax credits for starting, expanding, or relocating businesses.
X b) Reduce state government regulations on the private sector in order to encourage investment and economic expansion.
X c) Support limits on cash damages in lawsuits against businesses and professionals for product liability or malpractice.
X d) Increase funding for state job-training programs that re-train displaced workers or teach skills needed in today's job market.
e) Other
No f) Should South Dakota eliminate the video lottery?
Yes g) Do you support allowing the Legislature to determine future telephone rates instead of the Public Utility commission?

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding education.

X a) Increase state funds for professional development of public school teachers and administrators.
X b) Encourage private or corporate investment in public school programs.
c) Provide parents with state-funded vouchers to send their children to any participating school (public, private, religious).
d) Favor charter schools where independent groups receive state authorization and funding to establish new schools.
e) Support sex education programs which stress abstinence.
f) Support sex education programs which stress safe sexual practices.
g) Increase state funds for school construction and facility maintenance.
h) Increase state funds for hiring of additional teachers.
i) Endorse teacher-led voluntary prayer in public schools.
j) Other
No k) Do you support extending the school day until 5:00 or 5:30 for daycare purposes?

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding the environment and energy.

a) Require the use of cleaner burning fuels in order to prevent pollution.
X b) Support "self-audit" legislation which creates incentives for industries to audit themselves and clean up pollution.
X c) Require a cost/benefit analysis to determine the economic impact of proposed environmental regulations before they implemented.
d) Require the state to fully compensate citizens when environmental regulations limit uses on privately owned land.
e) Provide funding for recycling programs in South Dakota.
f) Request added flexibility from the federal government in enforcing and funding federal environmental regulations.
X g) Suspend participation in unfunded, federally mandated environmental protection legislation.
h) Restructure the electric utility industry to allow consumers to choose their power company.
X i) Provide tax relief to wetland owners.
j) Other
Undecided k) State environmental regulations should not be stricter than federal law.
No l) Do you support a constitutional amendment limiting corporate hog farming?
Yes m) Do you support taxing large surface mine companies to pay for any reclamation work needed after the mines are no longer in use?
Yes n) Do you support permitting private landowners to issue bounties for coyotes killed on their property?

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding government reform.a) Do you support the current law which limits the number of terms of the following South Dakota officials?b) Do you support limiting the following types of contributions to state legislative candidates?

No 1) State Senators and Representatives (four 2-year terms)
Yes 2) Governor (two 4-year terms)
Yes 1) Individual
Yes 2) PAC
Yes 3) Corporate
Yes c) Do you support requiring full and timely disclosure of campaign finance information?
No d) Do you support imposing spending limits on state level political campaigns?
No e) Do you support partial funding from state taxes for state level political campaigns?
Yes f) Would you vote to ratify an amendment to the U.S. Constitution requiring an annual balanced federal budget?
No g) Do you support consolidating local governments to reduce the number of counties in South Dakota?
h) Other

Indicate which principles you support (if any) concerning gun issues.

a) Ban the sale or transfer of all forms of semi-automatic weapons.
b) Increase state restrictions on the purchase and possession of firearms.
X c) Maintain state restrictions on the purchase and possession of firearms.
d) Ease state restrictions on the purchase and possession of firearms.
e) Repeal state restrictions on the purchase and possession of firearms by law-abiding citizens.
X f) Favor allowing citizens to carry concealed firearms.
g) Require manufacturers to provide child-safety locks with firearms.
h) Other
Undecided i) Do you support recognizing permits or licenses from other states to carry concealed pistols as valid in South Dakota?

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding health issues.

a) Provide tax incentives to small businesses that provide health care to their employees.
b) Ensure that citizens have access to basic health care, through managed care, insurance reforms, or state funded care where necessary.
X c) Provide health care to uninsured children by designing a children's health insurance program.
d) Transfer more existing Medicaid recipients into managed care programs.
e) Use state funds to continue some Medicaid coverage for legal immigrants.
X f) Limit the amount of damages that can be awarded in medical malpractice lawsuits.
X g) Guaranteeing medical care to all citizens is not a responsibility of state government.
h) Other

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding social issues.

a) Increase state funding for programs to prevent teen pregnancy.
b) Provide tax credits for businesses that provide child care for their employees.
c) Increase state funds to provide child care to children in low-income working families.
X d) Deny or suspend state-issued permits and licenses to parents who are delinquent in paying court-ordered child support.
e) Favor banning smoking in public places.
f) Increase state funding for Head Start in order to serve additional children and/or increase services from a half to a full day.
g) Increase state funding for community centers and other social agencies in areas with at-risk youth.
h) Support state funding of programs for at-risk youth such as guaranteed college loans and job training and placement.
i) Other
No j) Do you believe that the South Dakota government should include sexual orientation in South Dakota's anti-discrimination laws?
No k) Do you believe that the South Dakota government should recognize same-sex marriages?

Indicate the funding levels you will support for the following general categories. Select one level only.

Slightly Increase a) Education (K-12)
Slightly Increase b) Education (Higher)
Maintain Status c) Environment
Maintain Status d) Health care
Maintain Status e) Law enforcement
Greatly Increase f) Transportation infrastructure (highways, roads, bridges)
Slightly Decrease g) Welfare
h) Other

Indicate the tax levels you will support. Select one level only.

Maintain Status a) Alcohol taxes
Eliminate b) Capital gains taxes
Maintain Status c) Cigarette taxes
Maintain Status d) Corporate taxes
Slightly Increase e) Gas taxes
Eliminate f) Income taxes (incomes below $75,000)
Eliminate g) Income taxes (incomes above $75,000)
Slightly Decrease h) Property taxes
Maintain Status i) Sales taxes
No k) Do you support a flat tax structure for state income taxes?
No l) Do you support eliminating inheritance taxes?
No m) Do you support removing sales tax from food?
Inheritance tax -- Slightly Decrease

Indicate which principles you support (if any) regarding welfare.

X a) Maintain current time limits on welfare benefits.
X b) Require that able-bodied welfare recipients must start working to continue receiving benefits .
c) Increase employment and job training programs for welfare recipients.
d) Provide tax incentives to businesses that hire welfare recipients.
e) Provide child care for welfare recipients who work.
f) Increase access to public transportation for welfare recipients who work.
g) Allow welfare recipients to remain eligible for benefits while saving money for education, starting a business, or buying a home.
h) Limit benefits given to recipients if they have additional children while on welfare.
i) Eliminate government-funded welfare programs.
X j) Other
Undecided k) Do you support suspending welfare checks from parents with children who are not attending school regularly?
Maintain health benefits while starting in job force.
Please explain what your two main legislative priorities will be if elected. Please explain how you would obtain any additional government funding needed to implement these priorities.

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