What You Are Writing About
Each year, I hear from thousands of Idahoans who write, e-mail, fax and call my offices to let me know how they feel about issues facing our country today. On average, I receive approximately 1,000 letters and e-mails a week. In recent years, an increasing number of that correspondence has come via electronic means. Even with such a volume of correspondence, I try to respond to each Idahoan as promptly as possible. In an effort to be even more responsive and to fully utilize the technology available through the Internet, this web page features the top five issues of concern from Idahoans and my response on each from the previous week. You may also wish to review information in the Issues Section or details from my Legislative Record, which lists bills I have sponsored and co-sponsored.
Here are the top issues Idahoans have recently written me about:
As you know, on June 25, 2013, President Obama outlined his Administration’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and encourage renewable energy development and utilization in an effort to curb global climate change.�� The plan, largely focused on using the President’s executive authority to bypass Congress, touches on the following actions:
- Direct the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to issue carbon dioxide emission rules for new and existing power plants under the authority of the Clean Air Act (CAA).
- Establish new energy efficiency and renewable energy use targets for the federal government.
- Impose new efficiency and renewable energy standards for certain private sector industries.
- Streamline the renewable energy project permitting process on public lands.
- Encourage U.S. involvement in worldwide negotiations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
- Establish climate change related conditions on U.S. foreign aid.
The EPA published its proposed rule regarding carbon dioxide emissions from new power plants on January 8, 2014.�� The agency may release new regulations for consideration on existing power plants later in 2014.������
As you may also know, on September 30, 2009, President Obama first authorized the EPA to begin moving forward with regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from stationary sources under the authority of the CAA.�� After various legal challenges, the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. upheld EPA’s actions to regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the authority of the CAA on June 26, 2012.��Protecting and improving our natural environment is an objective shared by many, but there is strong disagreement on how to accomplish this goal. In general, the best policies for addressing climate change are grounded in science, protect our quality of life and provide the greatest benefit to both the environment and people without harming our economy.�� The climate change proposals issued by President Obama, however, will likely have serious economic consequences while yielding few environmental benefits if fully implemented.�� Further, the Administration’s proposals threaten the utilization of our own traditional, affordable sources of energy and potentially increase the cost of electricity for consumers.�� Rather, we must utilize an “all of the above” approach, which should include a robust expansion of nuclear energy production, hydroelectric power, and other promising renewable and emissions reducing technologies.�� By expanding and diversifying our energy portfolio, we can reduce risks to the environment, promote a strong domestic energy sector and increase our energy security.
A fundamental cornerstone of our Constitution is the inherent checks and balances between the branches of government. Each acts as a check on the others to ensure no single individual or institution can accumulate undue powers. Actions that seek to challenge this balance undermine the founding principles of our federal system.
The congressional oversight process serves to hold executive officials accountable for the implementation of delegated authority. Given the evolving role and scope of the federal government in recent decades, the importance of Congress’ review function looms large in checking and monitoring the delegated authority granted to federal agencies.
The Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 strengthens legislative oversight by enhancing committees’ ability to hold agencies accountable for the implementation of their performance goals and outcomes; to carefully evaluate the budget requests of various agencies, and to reduce or eliminate unnecessary duplication among federal agencies that implement policy areas.
The Congressional Review Act (CRA) of 1996 enables Congress to review and disapprove agency rules and regulations. Under the CRA, agencies must submit major rules to Congress and Government Accountability Office before they can take effect. The law provides for expedited procedures for any joint resolution of disapproval. The President can veto the joint resolution of disapproval; however, as with all legislation, Congress can override the President’s veto with a two-thirds vote from each chamber. Congress also has the ability to constrain the executive branch by passing statutes that repeal rules, including appropriations measures that limit funding for the development, implementation, or enforcement of certain rules or types of rules.
The role of the executive branch, whose activities have wide impact, underscores the critical importance of holding administrative entities accountable for their actions and decisions. Congress has a responsibility to continue strong oversight to ensure that our branches of government exercise their powers in a manner consistent with the Constitution. Government transparency and accountability are important aspects of a healthy and vibrant democracy, and I support initiatives to reassert public and congressional oversight of government programs and initiatives that have an effect on the American people.
The delicate relationship that exists between the Legislative and the Executive Branches, as directed in the Constitution, is vital to the effectiveness of the federal government and must be protected. The ultimate check on the conduct of elected officials is the public. Our Founding Fathers envisioned a system of government in which the people would be given the power to regularly review and pass judgment on elected representatives through the ballot box.��
I understand your concerns with many of the policies and conduct of the Obama Administration, particularly its handling of the Fast-and-Furious scandal and the terrorist attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.�� As a result of such actions, many Idahoans have contacted to me to express their support for the impeachment of the President.��
As you may know, impeachment is the process by which charges can be brought by the legislative branch against certain officials serving in the executive and judicial branches of the federal government for misdeeds in office.�� Article 2, Section 4 of the Constitution of the United States specifies that "The President, Vice President and all civil officers of the United States, shall be removed from office on impeachment for, and conviction of, treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors."���� The U.S. House of Representatives has the responsibility for bringing the charges against the official, otherwise known as impeachment.�� Once the House has determined enough evidence exists for impeachment, the Senate has the role of trying the impeached official.������
The mechanism for impeachment and conviction is a critical and powerful part of the process of checks and balances envisioned by the Founding Fathers and should not be taken lightly or used for purely political purposes.�� The seriousness of the impeachment process is reflected in the fact that only two presidents in the history of the United States have been impeached, President Andrew Johnson in 1868 and President Bill Clinton in 1998.��
Although government officials should be held accountable for any malfeasance, any effort for impeachment of President Obama would require a high threshold to be met.�� Should any such proceeding be proposed by the House of Representatives, it is my sincere hope that it is based on a thorough and legal investigation and not for partisan purposes.�� Please be assured that, in reviewing the issue, I will maintain my commitment to upholding the Constitution.�� The delicate relationship that exists between the Legislative and the Executive branches, as directed in the Constitution, is vital to the effectiveness of the federal government and must be protected.
As you may know, H.R. 2852 was introduced by Representative George Miller (D-California) on July 30, 2013.�� This bill would amend the Age Discrimination in Employment Act to include age or participation in investigations, proceedings, or litigation as a protected category.�� The complainant may submit any form of admissible evidence and age does not have to be the sole cause of the practice.�� H.R. 2852 has been referred to the House Subcommittee on Workforce Protections where it awaits further consideration.��
All employees must be treated equally in that they are provided tasks and assignments based on where their skill set, knowledge, and experience will be best used.�� A fair and motivated work environment will produce the most effective, efficient, and quality results for consumers.�� It is important that the laws that govern this environment are followed.�� We must prevent unnecessary regulations, so businesses may continue to grow and thrive leading to an economic recovery.������
As you may know, this legislation was introduced on July 18, 2013, by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and is an omnibus package of various proposals that focus on outdoor recreational activities such as hunting, fishing and sport shooting.�� Enhancing access to public lands is one of the major provisions included in the bill.�� Other provisions include:
- Reauthorization of wildlife and migratory bird conservation programs
- Enhanced opportunities for establishing public target shooting ranges
- Modifications to bow hunting practices on public lands
- Exclusion of ammunition and fishing tackle from regulation by the Environmental Protection Agency
S. 1335 is pending further consideration before the United States Senate.
As an avid outdoorsman and legislator, I will carefully review all legislative proposals that seek to modify, expand and/or enhance activities related to hunting, fishing and other outdoor recreation opportunities.�� Outdoor sporting activities are essential to many Idahoans, as well as the many visitors our state hosts each year, and Idahoans have a rich history of proper and effective stewardship of the public lands they enjoy, depend and recreate upon. Please be assured, I will continue to work to with my colleagues in Congress to promote policies that ensure the public has the greatest access to enjoy our public lands, while protecting the unique habitats and environments found therein.����
As you know, Dr. Murthy has been openly supportive of the Obama Administration’s push for expanding gun control laws. He has referred to guns as a public health issue, and continues to advocate for strict gun control. Please rest assured I will continue to defend the Second Amendment rights granted to the American people.
I share your commitment to ensuring that the American people are served by experienced and qualified public officials. Public confidence in the work of our federal government is best ensured by officials who represent the interests of the people and are responsive to concerns raised by interested parties.
As your United States Senator, I have the responsibility to carefully review nominations for federal positions made by the President. I appreciate your willingness to share your insight about the upcoming nomination with me. Please be assured that I understand the importance of this responsibility and will continue to review nominations in a way that reflects the interests and needs of Idahoans and the American people.