March 07, 2017

Top Priority: Improving Veterans' Access To Care

Many Idahoans, especially those in eastern Idaho, are aware that there are extensive delays with reimbursement to health care providers through the Veterans Choice Program (Choice program). Some providers have had to stop serving veterans through Choice because they were not getting paid. These payment challenges have impacted the ability of Idaho veterans to use the program. I am committed to fixing this, along with the other problems with the Choice program, to ensure Idaho veterans are able… Continue Reading

February 27, 2017

Lessons Learned From Vietnam Veterans

The U.S. Census Bureau reports that the majority of Idaho's veterans served during the Vietnam War. Veterans put their lives on the line and lost friends and family during their service to our country. They experienced great loss and personal sacrifice while being criticized for doing as they were told. They are among the first to step forward and help fellow veterans and others in our communities. Many lessons can be learned from these great Americans. As Americans, it is our duty to hono… Continue Reading

February 20, 2017

Bipartisan Majority Of Senate Urging Strengthening Of Medicare Advantage

In Idaho, one in three Medicare beneficiaries have chosen a private health plan through Medicare Advantage (MA), which allows beneficiaries to select a health plan that best suits their individual budget and health needs. Given the successes of Medicare Advantage for many in Idaho and across the nation, maintaining and strengthening it will ensure its long-term stability. I recently led a letter signed by fellow Idaho Senator Jim Risch and 63 of our Senate colleagues to Centers for Medicare &a… Continue Reading

February 13, 2017

Protecting Constitutional Rights

I recently reintroduced S. 202, the Social Security Beneficiary 2nd Amendment Rights Protection Act, to protect Social Security beneficiaries from having their constitutional rights arbitrarily revoked. I also co-sponsored a similar Congressional Review Act resolution to halt a rule issued by the Social Security Administration (SSA) in the waning days of the Obama Administration that would erode Americans' Second Amendment rights. The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed similar legis… Continue Reading

February 06, 2017

Furthering Nuclear Innovation Benefits Idaho

For the past three years, the Research and Business Development Center and the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) have worked together to quantify INL's economic impact. The recent report on the lab's economic contributions in Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 demonstrated the substantial benefits nuclear research brings to our great state. Removing roadblocks that prevent continued innovation in the nuclear sector so that our state can continue to benefit from INL's great work is important. This year's … Continue Reading

January 30, 2017

Warning About Tax Season Scams

"As the tax filing season approaches, it is critical that all taxpayers remember to be wary of unsolicited telephone calls and e-mails from individuals claiming to be IRS and Treasury employees," warns the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), J. Russell George. He further cautions that the callers are aggressive and relentless. "Once they have your attention, they will say anything to con you out of your hard-earned cash. We continue to actively pursue those perpetrating… Continue Reading

January 23, 2017

Priorities For The 115th Congress

The 115th Congress presents an opportunity to deliver real and lasting change for the American people. We must seize the moment to fundamentally change the course of our country to restore prosperity, stability and liberty. For far too long, we have let the enormous federal government curtail and hold back American ingenuity and opportunity through misguided central planning and political ideology. Replacing one-size-fits-all, top-down government controls should unleash the true entrepreneuri… Continue Reading

January 16, 2017

Time Is Wasting To Stop Medicare Bankruptcy

I recently wrote about the need to heed the Social Security Trustee's warnings and shore up Social Security. Like the requirements for the Social Security Trustees to annually assess the state of the trust funds that support the Social Security program, the Medicare Trustees are also required by law to report to Congress on the state of the Medicare trust funds. In June, the Medicare Trustees reported that Medicare's Part A Trust Fund is expected to be bankrupt in 2028, two years earlier than … Continue Reading

January 09, 2017

The Need To Shore Up Social Security Is Mounting

In its most recent report out in June, the Trustees of the Social Security trust fund provided another warning that Congress must act now to address the shortfalls of the Social Security trust fund. The trustees reported that the Social Security program will be "unable to pay scheduled benefits in full on a timely basis in 2034" and recommended that lawmakers address these shortfalls soon, so that "a broader range of solutions can be considered and more time will be available to phase in change… Continue Reading

January 02, 2017

From The Mailbag: The 21st Century Cures Act

As participants in the decisions made in Congress, Idahoans contact me with valuable input about the issues our country faces. Realizing that many may not have the chance to contact me, I post the top five issues of concern from Idahoans and my responses on my website. The following is my response regardingthe 21 st Century Cures Act: I voted in favor of this important legislation. The 21 stCentury Cures Act, H.R. 34, is a landmark health care innovation package that will accelerate the disc… Continue Reading

December 26, 2016

Sharing An Idaho Christmas

The magnificent Englemann Spruce from the Payette National Forest that stands at the U.S. Capitol this Christmas is a small portion of the natural beauty that we are fortunate to have in Idaho.  Thank you to all the Idahoans who helped kick off the Christmas season by presenting the nation with the "People's Tree".  Let this tree be a sign of good cheer and the holiday season and bring us together. Picking the right tree and making sure it made it to our nation's capital safely was no small tas… Continue Reading

December 19, 2016

Idahoans Leading In Volunteer Service

The quiet service and giving spirit of Idahoans are among the many blessings I am counting this holiday season.  A recently released study from the Corporation for Community and National Service (CNCS) further confirmed the prevalent service in Idaho communities concluding that Idaho ranks fifth in the nation for volunteer service.  In its annual Volunteering and Civic Life in Americareport, CNCS estimated382,200 volunteers in Idaho provide 53.42 million hours of volunteer service with an… Continue Reading

December 12, 2016

Native American Heritage

A Haskett point from the Snake River is one of the historical items from Idaho on display in the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.  The museum dates the point's creation to a remarkable 10,000-6,000 BC.  The Native American tribes of Idaho-the Coeur d'Alene, Kootenai, Nez Perce, Shoshone-Bannock and Shoshone-Paiute-are undoubtedly a deep and central part of Idaho's history and development.  Learning more about and celebrating this profound history can broaden our under… Continue Reading

December 05, 2016

No Veteran Should Face Homelessness

No veteran who has served our nation should return home to face homelessness, but yet it is happening.  Based on statistics from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) reports there were 49,933 homeless veterans on a single night in January 2014.  While the VA finds that homelessness among veterans is declining, work remains to end the homelessness of those who have given so much for us.  This fall, I had the opportunity to par… Continue Reading

November 23, 2016

Small Businesses: Heart of Communities

"America is small business . . . Too often, entrepreneurs are forgotten heroes.  We rarely hear about them.  But look into the heart of America, and you'll see them.  They're the owners of that store down the street, the faithfuls who support our churches, schools, and communities, the brave people everywhere who produce our goods, feed a hungry world, and keep our homes and families warm while they invest in the future to build a better America."  These words spoken by former President … Continue Reading

November 21, 2016

Heroes Among Us

For the past fourteen years, I have had the honor of recognizing some of the remarkable service of Idahoans with the Spirit of Freedom:  Idaho Veterans Service Award.  This award is presented in two categories:  veterans and volunteers who assist veterans.  Many of these Idahoans participated in formidable world events and returned home, raised families, built up our communities and continued to serve in many capacities assisting fellow Idahoans, including veterans and their families.  Their exa… Continue Reading

November 14, 2016

Capitol Christmas Tree: "An Idaho Mountain Gem"

Idaho is blessed with beautiful mountains and immense forests. In the winter the mountains and forests are covered with snow, making the landscape look like never ending clouds with skyscrapers covered in snow. Big tall trees. Beautiful to look at. Amazing to see. Pristine mountains. As I sit in the forest I find peace. As the wind blows through the tall ponderosa pines I feel a sense of solitude and peacefulness. To someone that has… Continue Reading

November 07, 2016

Idaho Rail Expansion Supporting Economic Activity

Idahoans living in communities across our large state create quality, innovative products, making access to reliable and affordable transportation options critical for the success of Idaho small businesses and agricultural producers.  Short line railroads are proven to be extremely efficient at moving Idaho goods to customers worldwide.  I had the opportunity to joinexecutives from Watco Companies, LLC; Burley Mayor Merlin Smedley; and other local officials in Burley to celebrate a major expansi… Continue Reading

October 31, 2016

America: Still To Build

"The American Journey has not ended.  America is never accomplished.  America is always still to build . . ." said former Librarian of Congress Archibald MacLeish in a 1961 speech. We are fortunate as Americans that we are active participants in governing our country.  The right to vote gives each of us an important voice.  It is more valuable when we recognize that the story of America has not fully been written.  The building of America is not done.  It will never be completely finished.  Wor… Continue Reading

October 24, 2016

"Audacious Executive Action"

It has been widely reported that White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough declared in January that the Obama Administration would take "audacious executive action throughout the course of the rest of the year."  I rechecked the definition of the word "audacious" to try to get a clear sense of the Administration's stated approach.  The Oxford Dictionary's definition of "audacious" includes "showing an impudent lack of respect."  Words such as impertinent, insolent, presumptuous, cheeky, irrever… Continue Reading

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