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:
On March 22, 2013, I joined a bipartisan group of my colleagues in writing to Dan Ashe, Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). The letter encouraged the agency to move forward with a nationwide delisting of the gray wolf under the Endangered Species Act. Currently, the recovered gray wolf has been removed from federal protection in the Northern Rocky Mountain and Great Lakes regions, and USFWS is considering delisting the gray wolf for remaining regions in the lower 48 states where it remains under ESA protection. It is estimated that USFWS will publicly release proposed modifications to the listing of the gray wolf later this year.I remain committed to ensuring that wolf management is conducted in a way that benefits both the species and humans, by balancing the interests of the wolves, livestock owners, sportsmen and our big game herds. Idaho has proven capable of managing its wolf population, which includes a sport harvest wolf hunting and trapping program. State authorities are uniquely qualified to carry out wildlife management initiatives in their states, and I am confident that Idaho and other western states can serve as a model for others regarding wildlife management issues.
Thank you for contacting me regarding immigration reform and border security. I appreciate hearing from you and welcome the opportunity to respond.
Rarely does an issue invoke more interest from so many Idahoans and people across the nation than the issue of immigration reform and border security.
As you may know, on April 16, 2013, several of my colleagues in the Senate introduced the Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act (S. 744). This measure was reviewed by the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, and will now head to the full Senate for consideration. Along with my Senate colleagues, I am reviewing the 844 page bill to ensure that it is consistent with my long-held principles on immigration. I have consistently maintained that there is a real need for a rational immigration policy, and I will continue to press for an immigration policy that is built on several important principles:
- First, the United States must commit the resources necessary to have the strongest border enforcement realistically possible. Preservation of the integrity of our borders is essential to both a sensible guest worker program as well as our national security. When we have a stable and manageable guest worker and immigration system, we will be able to ensure that those who come to our country, whether they seek to come as a temporary worker or to obtain permanent residency, do so in compliance with our rule of law.
- Second, our immigration system must not grant amnesty to those who enter our country illegally. No person who breaks the law and enters the U.S. illegally should obtain any benefit toward either permanent legal residency or citizenship as a result of their illegal conduct. This is unfair both to American citizens and to those who have gone through legal channels for immigration to the U.S.
- Third, our guest worker programs must assure that American citizens have the first right to access available jobs. There is significant debate about whether American citizens are losing U.S. jobs to workers from other countries. However, this debate can be resolved by assuring that any jobs made available in a guest worker program are first available to U.S. workers. Manageable ways to assure this have already been identified.
- Fourth, an efficient and workable guest worker program must be developed that will provide employers with a reliable, verifiable and legal system to identify guest workers who are legally in the country.
You may be interested to know that I am a strong supporter of border security and effective immigration enforcement. I have supported multiple pieces of legislation to improve immigration enforcement by providing more funds for the removal of illegal immigrants and providing for additional Border Patrol agents, vehicles and reconnaissance. These measures are critical to bringing security to our borders.
I remain committed to the enactment of sound immigration policy. I understand the urgency expressed by many to enact a federal response to address our nation’s immigration and border security needs. However, realizing the significant impact of legislation of this magnitude, I will continue to press for not just a temporary fix, but a solid solution that will secure our nation’s borders, not provide incentives for further illegal immigration through rewarding illegal entry, provide Americans with the first right to access available jobs, and enable an efficient and workable guest worker program.Please rest assured that I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress and all Idahoans to find sensible solutions to the challenges we face with regard to immigration.
Like you, I recognize the vital service the transportation sector plays in the lives of Idahoans and others from rural states. General aviation, in particular, is a key to enhancing the accessibility of many communities in Idaho, including during emergencies and natural disasters. Thousands of Americans are employed in the field as small business owners, part manufacturers, pilots, recreational guides, technicians, and in many other direct and indirect jobs.As an advocate for their unique needs, I am a member of the Senate General Aviation Caucus. The Caucus provides a mechanism to help educate Members of Congress and the public about the policies and practices that most affect the industry. Moreover, it serves as a forum to discuss the best ways to address the needs of the general aviation sector.
Our debt crisis is a threat to not just our way of life, but our national survival. History has not been kind to great nations who borrowed and spent beyond their means. Doing nothing will, sooner rather than later, guarantee that this nation becomes a second-rate power with less opportunity and less freedom. As a part of bipartisan group efforts in Congress, I am working with my colleagues to identify solutions to our long-term fiscal problems.
The successful plan to rescue our nation’s finances will not just avert a disaster, but help drive the kind of economic recovery we need to create jobs and spur growth. No single step can solve the problem. The plan must involve difficult decisions regarding discretionary and mandatory spending programs, as well as fundamental tax reform.
Considerable public focus has centered on the proper structure of personal and corporate income tax rates. While some favor raising or lowering specific rates, these proposals fail to recognize the inherent failures of the tax code. Our tax code is far too long, complex, and anti-competitive to serve as the long-term foundation for the economic growth our country needs. Without structural reform, our potential growth and revenues will be lost.
As a part of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, I have outlined proposals that create fairness in the tax code, are pro-growth, and unleash the dynamic potential of our economy to produce additional revenues. Such comprehensive tax reform would eliminate much of the complexity in the current tax code and lower the tax rates for all individuals, families, and businesses. Embracing this new paradigm can help generate additional revenues and put America’s tax code in a more competitive posture for our future.With over $16 trillion in debt, the United States must look past narrow concepts and undertake comprehensive fiscal changes that include structural spending and revenue reforms. No single sector ��� discretionary spending, mandatory programs, or revenues ��� can be overlooked. Simply put, all must be on the table. Our future, and our children, depends on America coming together to meet our fiscal challenges.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration’s (TIGTA) audit of the IRS Exempt Organization Determinations office in Cincinnati, Ohio, released its report on May 14, 2013. The review focused on the practice that the IRS was using terms such as “tea party” and “liberty” to discriminate against conservative groups for further scrutiny on the 501(c)(4) applications. At subsequent stages of the IRS activities, groups involved with “limiting government,” “educating on the Constitution,”and “social economic reform” were subject to discriminatory treatment. Based on the TIGTA report, these actions date back to at least early 2010.
Congress has initiated several formal investigations and oversight proceedings. The House Ways and Means Committee has opened formal investigative hearings focusing on the IRS’s practice of discriminating against applicants due to their political leanings, as well as examination of senior IRS officials and the management practices of the agency. I am a member of the Senate Finance Committee, which will also hold important hearings to investigate this troubling situation.
Additionally, I, along with several of my colleagues, wrote the President expressing our grave concerns and deep disappointment about the revelations in the TIGTA report. Our letter highlights the danger posed by using government resources to curb political liberties:
We are deeply disturbed that agents of the government were directed to give greater scrutiny to groups engaged in conduct questioning the actions of their government. This type of purely political scrutiny being conducted by an Executive Branch Agency is yet another completely inexcusable attempt to chill the speech of political opponents and those who would question their government, consistent with a broader pattern of intimidation by arms of the administration to silence political dissent.
The scale and coordination revealed by the media reports of the IRS actions are extremely troubling. Congress must exercise thorough oversight on the inappropriate actions taken by the IRS, which warrants immediate attention and cooperation by the agency. Even after repeated past inquiries by Members of Congress expressing heightened concerns about singling out conservative groups, there was little to no acknowledgement on behalf of the IRS of this improper behavior taking place.