Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo
More than 7,000 Idahoans participated in my third tele-townhall meeting this year. Regular tele-townhalls are one of the ways I connect with Idahoans across the state while working on your behalf in Washington, D.C. The input I receive from these conversations helps me advocate for Idaho interests in Congress.
The main focus of the tele-townhall meeting held on September 17 was topics under congressional consideration. We discussed my disagreement with Congress adjourning until after the November election. This Congress has failed to address many of the critical issues facing our country. Instead, Congress passed a temporary spending measure to provide stop-gap funding for government operations, and approved President Obama's proposal to train and arm Syrian "moderate rebels" to combat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
I opposed both measures. Allowing funding for federal programs to go unchecked diminishes Congress' oversight responsibilities and worsens our deteriorating fiscal picture. We must take substantive action now to address our fiscal problems by reducing federal spending; enforcing budget controls to stop Congress and the President from overspending; and fix our broken tax code by simplifying the code and lowering rates for all individuals, families and businesses.
Additionally, I could not support President Obama's proposal to aid Syrian rebels. Aligning with those who in the long-run may seek to do Americans harm is not the right course. The threat of ISIS to the U.S. must be addressed, but President Obama has not presented a sound strategy.
We also discussed the federal government's increasing intrusion into the lives of Americans, including monitoring communications and infringing on Second Amendment rights and financial privacy. I also talked about the efforts underway to improve assistance for American veterans. Additionally, questions were raised regarding the potential for working across party lines; prioritizing national security threats; health care reform solutions; improving the management of public lands; tax reform; oversight of federal agencies; excessive executive orders and government overreach; the timing of congressional budgeting; and securing our southern border.
To listen to the audio from this tele-townhall and past tele-townhall meetings and sign up for the next teleforum, please visit my official website, www.crapo.senate.gov. A telephone is all that is needed to participate. Joining the call is voluntary, and listeners are given an opportunity to ask about topics regarding federal policies and legislation. The fourth tele-townhall of the year is tentatively set for December 10, 2014, at 7:00 PM Mountain Time/6:00 PM Pacific Time.
On a related note, over the next several weeks and months, I will be traveling all over Idaho to meet directly with Idahoans in a series of town hall meetings. I will start these meetings this month in the Idaho Panhandle and in southwest Idaho and information about them is available on my website at www.crapo.senate.gov.
Thank you to all those Idahoans who take the time to share their views. I encourage all Idahoans to stay engaged and urge those you communicate with to get involved and let their Senators and Representatives know how they feel about the issues of the day. This will improve the ability to fix the gridlock and achieve the kind of commonsense solutions Americans want.
# # #
Word Count: 524