July 24, 2017

A New Federal Judge For Idaho

In spite of the hyper-partisan climate in our nation's capital, in a unanimous, bipartisan vote of 100-0, the U.S. Senate recently confirmed Judge David Nye to serve as the next United States District Judge for the District of Idaho. Judge Nye's overwhelming confirmation is a great benefit for Idaho, which has been shorthanded in managing rising caseloads. This confirmation is important for our state to help administer the law. For the past two years, Idaho has had a three-judge caseload han… Continue Reading

July 17, 2017

Streamlining Community Care For Veterans

By continuing to put veterans first, we can drive U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) reforms in a direction that makes a meaningful and lasting impact on the lives of the veterans it serves. This is the purpose of legislation I introduced, S. 1279, the Veterans Health Administration Reform Act of 2017, that would tailor and improve access to local care for veterans to better meet their individual needs. Delays for appointments and treatment through Veterans Health Administration (VHA) fa… Continue Reading

July 10, 2017

Collecting The Histories Of Idaho Veterans

Idahoan William Russell Woodfin Sr. served as a First Lieutenant in the U.S. Army during World War II. He was interviewed in 2001 by longtime member of my staff, the late-Linda Norris, as part of collecting a first-hand account of his service for the Veterans History Project. First Lieutenant Woodfin discusses "bravery": "I always say this to high school or elementary schools when I talk to them that I hope no one thinks I'm brave. I did so little compared to many who lived, but particularly… Continue Reading

July 03, 2017

Modernizing The Veterans Benefits Appeals Process

Idaho veterans have shared detailed, personal accounts of how the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) claims appeals process could better serve veterans. They have shared these helpful insights through years of statewide veterans surveys, hundreds of town halls, and numerous other direct communications. For this reason, I co-sponsored S. 1024, the Veterans Appeals Improvement and Modernization Act, to overhaul the current appeals process and replace it with a new multi-track system to en… Continue Reading

June 26, 2017

Russia Sanctions Legislation

Over the course of the past three months, the Senate Banking Committee, on which I serve as Chairman, has held hearings assessing the impacts of the current sanctions regime against Russia. The committee found that despite existing sanctions, Russia remains a hostile, recalcitrant power, and that in Russian President Putin's calculus, the costs of the sanctions do not outweigh the benefits of occupying Crimea and contributing to unrest in Ukraine, continuing to support the Assad regime's assaul… Continue Reading

June 19, 2017

Pledging To Help Raise PTSD Awareness

Captain Sarah C. Humphries served in the U.S. Army in Iraq. In a video on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) website, Sarah explains how she knew she had Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). She describes an incident that occurred while walking with her son who was riding his bike: "We had just started walking down the street riding the bike and a lot of neighbors were out talking. It was the time of night where everyone comes out because it was so hot. He almost got hit by a ca… Continue Reading

June 12, 2017

Moving Forward With Positive Spirit Of Renewal

Kindness, support and respect run deep in Idaho. The response to the vandalism of the Idaho Anne Frank Human Rights Memorial in Boise, Idaho, is a recent example of the depth of compassion in Idahoans. I commend Idahoans, and specifically the Boise community, for coming together so quickly to fight hate speech and related vandalism. At a recent event at the Anne Frank Memorial, I had the opportunity to present a Congressional Record Statement recognizing this rejection of hateful language an… Continue Reading

June 05, 2017

Bill To Extend Secure Rural Schools Funding

I joined fellow Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and a large, bipartisan group of Senate colleagues in introducing legislation that would extend payments under the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) program, commonly called county payments, to rural counties with large tracts of tax-exempt federal lands in Idaho and other states. Without the SRS program, existing revenue sharing payments are not sufficient to support the services many Idaho counties must provide. This federal obligation to rural residents … Continue Reading

May 29, 2017

Intellectual Property Protections: Backing Idaho Ingenuity

U.S. Forest Ranger Edward Pulaski helped save the lives of fellow wildland firefighters in Idaho's 1910 Big Burn. He is credited with using his experience to refine what is known as the Pulaski tool that is still widely used to assist with wildland firefighting. Ed Pulaski's innovation is on display at the Wallace District Mining Museum & Visitor Center. This Idaho hero and innovator is a fitting representation of the grit and ingenuity that defines Idaho. Idahoans have been at the cutti… Continue Reading

May 22, 2017

Honoring Excellence: Idaho's Teacher Of The Year

I recently had the great honor of meeting with Mary Lynn Spiker who was selected to be the 2017 Idaho Teacher of the Year. The role of teachers cannot be overvalued. Robert Frost characterized teachers as "awakeners." They inspire and plant seeds of understanding that can lead to not only successful careers, but also successful lives. I congratulate Mary Lynn Spiker on her selection for this honor and thank her and the many Idaho teachers she exemplifies for the work teachers do each day to … Continue Reading

May 15, 2017

Needed Review Of National Monument Designations

Americans deserve to enjoy a variety of benefits from our nation's abundant, while increasingly pressured, public lands. Top-down national monument designations can result in severe restriction on access to public lands and economic disruption to surrounding communities. States and affected stakeholders where a monument could be located must play a key role in the decision-making process. A recent Executive Order issued by President Trump would help with this objective by providing for the re… Continue Reading

May 08, 2017

Addressing The Need For More Veterinarians

Access to quality animal care is critical to Idaho's agricultural economy. But, too often, ranchers and farmers cannot access the care they need because of a lack of veterinarians. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Michigan) joined me in leading the reintroduction of the bipartisan S. 487, the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act (VMLRPEA), that would address the shortage by helping to increase the placement of more veterinarians in areas of the country where they are desperatel… Continue Reading

May 01, 2017

Property Seizure Abuses Must End

In past columns, I have written about legislative efforts to stop the abuse of asset seizure laws to take Americans' property without proof of a crime, or even an arrest or warrant. A recent report from the Treasury Inspector General For Tax Administration (TIGTA) sheds further light on the alarming property seizure practices of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). TIGTA's mission is to provide oversight of the federal tax system to ensure the IRS "is accountable for the trillions of dollars in… Continue Reading

April 24, 2017

Weekly Column: Rolling Back Federal Intrusion

On March 7, 2017, the Senate passed H.J.Res. 44, a resolution of disapproval to overturn the U.S. Department of Interior Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Resource Management Planning Rule, also known as "Planning 2.0." This resolution, which has since been signed into law by President Trump, rolls back a federal mandate limiting necessary local involvement in natural resources management and affecting multiple use of public lands. This is one of the approximately a dozen Congressional Review Ac… Continue Reading

April 17, 2017

Young Idahoans--Helping Build An Even Better Idaho

This Earth Day provides an important reminder of the remarkable natural assets all around us and the considerable work and problem-solving required to sustain these resources so that we all can continue to experience their benefits. I had the opportunity to meet with Idahoans involved in the Idaho Conservation Corps (ICC). The work they are doing to maintain Idaho's natural resources is worthy of highlighting. ICC enables Idaho youth and young adults statewide to assist with resource manageme… Continue Reading

April 10, 2017

Idaho Youth Leadership

Helen Keller wrote in 1930, "It is not possible for civilization to flow backward while there is youth in this world." Meeting with Idaho delegates to the U.S. Senate Youth Program (USSYP) is a reminder of the great promise for the future of our state and nation found in Idaho's young leaders. The U.S. Senate established the USSYP 55 years ago to recognize the leadership potential of students elected to student body offices in high schools across the U.S. and encourage the deepening of their… Continue Reading

April 03, 2017

Judicial Duty To Follow The Law

As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I met with Judge Neil Gorsuch, who President Donald Trump nominated to serve as Associate Justice. Judge Gorsuch's comments during our talk still resonate. He said, "My personal views are irrelevant as a judge." That is the ideal illustration of a judge steadfastly committed to our law and upholding the separation of powers defined in our Constitution. Through 20 hours of public testimony, he reaffirmed his commitment to the Oath of Office and J… Continue Reading

March 27, 2017

Federal Obligation To Idaho Counties Must Be Met

Secure Rural School payments are critical to ensure that counties across Idaho and the nation, accommodating tax-exempt, federally managed lands, have the resources necessary for local schools, roads, bridges, forest management projects and public safety priorities. The federal responsibility to meet this commitment remains. I recently joined fellow Idaho Senator Jim Risch and 78 of our congressional colleagues in sending a bipartisan, bicameral letter to the Office of Management and Budget (O… Continue Reading

March 20, 2017

Clearing Out The Mess Of Overregulation

In a Presidential Executive Order issued February 24, 2017, President Trump called for an extensive review of existing federal regulations to determine whether they should be eliminated. This step to clear out regulations saddling Americans with unnecessary restrictions, paperwork and financial burden is a needed and sensible undertaking to help invigorate American investment and ingenuity. The order establishes task forces in every government agency charged with reducing regulation and lim… Continue Reading

March 13, 2017

Opportunities For America

In his recent speech before Congress, President Donald Trump outlined a message of optimism that resonated with many. He laid forth an ambitious agenda that, if we work together to implement, will strengthen America. The President offered an agenda rooted in personal liberty and economic freedom with three bold agenda priorities: to strengthen our national security; provide for our veterans; and unleash robust job creation. Many military families, including those at Idaho's own Moun… Continue Reading

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