Rep. Kristi Noem was among the hundreds of passengers trapped at the Sioux Falls airport today due to an ice storm.
"They’ve deplaned us twice trying to get the plane de-iced," Noem said. "I think we’ve used up four trucks of de-icing fluid.”
Noem arrived at the airport before 7 a.m. CT this morning to return to Washington, D.C. She was still there at 2:30 p.m.
“People are unhappy. They’re discouraged. It’s been a long day,” Noem said of her fellow passengers, while also expressing thanks and admiration for the airport workers who have labored in the cold and rain trying to get planes ready to fly.
It was going to be a big day — the House was scheduled to debate and vote on Noem’s Black Hills Cemeteries Act, transferring ownership of some Black Hills cemeteries from the Forest Service to the local communities who’ve been operating them. The bill passed the House unanimously last year but wasn’t acted on by the Senate.
But with Noem trapped on the tarmac, the House postponed the cemetery bill debate.
“The majority leader has a protocol that if you have a bill on the floor you need to be able to be there to speak on it,” Noem said.
Missing the vote is “really disappointing for me” but Noem said she’s optimistic it will be rescheduled within a few weeks.
"I doubt there will be any problems with it," she said.
Noem was hoping she’d manage to fly out of Sioux Falls yet today.
"They told us to stick around if we wanted to, though I think 70 percent of the people on the plane are going home," she said. "I’m going to stay here."
If she can’t get on her original flight to Minneapolis, she said she hoped to fly to Chicago — which is forecast to have much better flying weather Wednesday than the Twin Cities.
And after spending hours on the tarmac as crews tried to get planes in the air, with air conditioning shut off to air the de-icing effort, Noem said she appreciates the federal rule limiting how long airlines can leave passengers idling on the runway.
"I think it’s good," Noem said. "It certainly serves a purpose. If we were bumping up against that 3-hour rule and were just about to take off, people might have been wondering about that, but certainly it’s a long time to sit there and wait."