February 01, 2016


The start of this year is the beginning of the second half of the 114 th Congress.  This is a good time to reestablish legislative and federal policy priorities for the year ahead.  Improving our nation's economic wellbeing remains my first priority, as addressing our fiscal crisis is paramount.  I will continue to use every opportunity to make progress on this and other efforts of importance to Idahoans.  As a member of the Senate Budget Committee, I will work with my colleagues to build on l… Continue Reading

January 25, 2016

Working To Nullify EPA Water Grab

The states, not the federal government, have always had primary jurisdiction over the allocation, management and use of water.  This management must remain with the states not seized by federal bureaucrats thousands of miles away and disconnected from the issues on the ground.  The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed legislation, previously passed by the U.S. Senate with my support, that would block the Administration's harmful attempt to exert jurisdiction over virtually all of our wa… Continue Reading

January 18, 2016

IRS Pulls New Overreach That Threatened Charitable Giving

For many Americans, January is a time to plan for the year.  This includes reviewing annual charitable giving and preparing for the often-dreaded task of filing tax forms.  In yet another overreach, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) could have made all of this even more problematic.  That is why I have joined with my Senate Finance Committee colleague Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), who has introduced S. 2370, legislation that would stop a new, IRS-proposed regulation that would have subjected American… Continue Reading

January 11, 2016

Improving The Administration Of Veterans' Benefits

This is the third in a series of columns to discuss the findings from my 2015 Veterans Survey.  In this column, I will discuss the findings regarding the Veterans Benefits Administration. The Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) is one of the three unique branches of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).  The VBA administers a wide range of veterans' benefits, including compensation, vocational assistance and pensions.  Filing a claim is the initial step to seeking compensation for di… Continue Reading

January 04, 2016

The Magic Of Christmas

I was honored to be asked to give the Republican Christmas Address.  Text from the address follows:  This season is a time to gather with loved ones and celebrate the birth of our savior, Jesus Christ.  Christmas is about our father's love.  God loved us so very much that He sent His Son to earth so that we may better understand that love.  As we love and care for our families, strive to protect them, and always no matter how grown our children get, long for what is best for them, we can start… Continue Reading

December 28, 2015

Timely Response Key To Improving Veterans Services

This is the second in a series of columns to discuss the specifics of the findings from my 2015 Veterans Survey.  In this column, I will discuss the findings regarding the Veterans Health Administration. Knowing who to turn to at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is an important part of accessing needed services.  The VA is composed of three unique administrations-the Veterans Health Administration (VHA), the Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) and the National Cemetery Administra… Continue Reading

December 21, 2015

Obamacare Is Not The Solution

I had the opportunity to call attention to the negative effects of Obamacare on Idahoans and the need to enact a true solution through a recent speech delivered from the Senate floor.  The health care situation is much worse than predicted by those of us who tried to prevent Obamacare from becoming law six years ago.  The President mangled the 2013 rollout of the Obamacare exchanges and has repeatedly delayed and selectively interpreted key parts of the law because of predictable problems and… Continue Reading

December 14, 2015

Persistence Required On Veterans Services

I recently wrote about the release of the results of my 2015 Veterans Survey.  This column is the first in a series of columns in which I willdiscuss the details of the survey results.  The survey showed that veterans' satisfaction with the services they receive remains relatively stable in comparison to last year's survey, and improvements are needed, especially in responsiveness and timeliness. Travel-related challenges and wait times for appointments are two critical issues affecting veter… Continue Reading

December 07, 2015

Federal Government Still Operating In The Red Despite Record Revenue

The U.S. Treasury Department reported that the federal government took in a record $3.249 trillion in receipts for fiscal year 2015.  Despite taking more in taxes, the federal government still spent $439 billion more than it received-adding again to the still growing nearly $19 trillion national debt.  Comprehensive fiscal reform that reduces spending, reforms our tax code, stabilizes entitlement programs and strengthens spending controls must be enacted to control this alarming debt and grow … Continue Reading

November 30, 2015

Celebrating Hometown Heroes

We all know people who make good things happen in our communities.  They prepare meals for families overcoming illnesses.  They welcome home returning veterans.  They find the resources to open libraries.  They pay attention, ask questions and dedicate time to making others' lives easier.  The Idaho Hometown Hero Medal honors the actions of some of the many Idahoans who make a difference and inspire others. Through Congressional Record Statements, I have had the opportunity to help congratulate… Continue Reading

November 23, 2015

Small Businesses Deserve Our Support

It takes know-how, determination and calculated risk to turn ideas into successful small businesses, especially to keep businesses going and grow them over generations.  Thankfully, there is no shortage of these characteristics in Idaho.  The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Office of Advocacy reports that Idaho alone has 149,476 small businesses that employ more than half of the state's private workforce.  Shopping at local small businesses and creating a competitive national economy … Continue Reading

November 16, 2015

Veterans Survey Calls For Continued Commitment To Vets Services

The outpouring of responses to my 2015 Veterans Survey is helpful and encouraging as I continue to work with Idaho's veteran community to improve veterans services.  Nearly 1,000 Idahoans participated in the survey.  The survey results demonstrate an unwavering commitment among Idaho veterans to ensuring current and future veterans have access to high-quality care.  The vast majority of survey participants identified themselves as servicemembers, and their insights provide a path forward for con… Continue Reading

November 09, 2015

Honoring Idaho's Spirit Of Freedom

Veterans and their families infuse our communities with a deep understanding of the truest sense of service.  Many of these veterans continue to serve their fellow veterans and others long after their military careers end.  Their shared insight of the personal price of American freedoms provides a special connection to the veterans they assist.  For the past thirteen years, I have had the honor of recognizing some of this immense service with the Spirit of Freedom:  Idaho Veterans Service Award.… Continue Reading

November 02, 2015

Commending The 366th Fighter Wing

The Mountain Home Air Force Base's 366 th Fighter Wing's long list of awards grew even longer recently when it once again earned the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award.  Congratulations to the skilled and dedicated men and women who serve in the 366 th Fighter Wing (FW) for their outstanding service to our nation.      The Outstanding Unit Awardwas created 61 years ago.  According to the Air Force Personnel Center, it is awarded by the Secretary of the Air Force to units that "distinguished t… Continue Reading

October 26, 2015

October: Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month-a time to reflect on the significant progress and important work ahead to change our culture so no one experiences domestic violence. Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women recognized Idaho as part of the national tour celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA).  Since its enactment in 1994 and subsequent reauthorizations with bipartisan leadership and support, the law has hel… Continue Reading

October 19, 2015

Seeking Meaningful Changes For Veterans

We must see meaningful and lasting change within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to improve veterans' access to high-quality services.  In a recent letter to VA Secretary Robert McDonald, I detailed some of the concerns I am hearing from Idaho veterans with their experiences with the VA.  I urged the VA to pay special attention to Idahoans as the VA works to improve the beleaguered Veterans Choice Program (VCP) and invited him to Idaho to hear firsthand from Idaho's veterans.    … Continue Reading

October 12, 2015

The Enduring "Star-Spangled Banner"

"O say can you see, by the dawn's early light, What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming, Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming? And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air, Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there, O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave? … Continue Reading

October 05, 2015

Above And Beyond The Call Of Duty

In the absence of a platoon leader, James E. Johnson, a U.S. Marine Corps Sergeant from Pocatello, stepped forward to lead his fellow Marines in the Korean War where his platoon faced a barrage of fire from an enemy force that greatly outnumbered his platoon.  Despite the onslaught, Sgt. Johnson calmly moved among his men encouraging, inspiring and directing.  He then saved many lives when he placed himself in position of certain death or capture to provide cover for his comrades.  Sgt. Johnson'… Continue Reading

September 28, 2015

Dangerous Iran Deal

Idahoans have overwhelmingly echoed many concerns with the President's executive agreement with Iran-from the concessions to unseen "side deals" to a questionable verification process.  Furthermore, they are shocked at the negotiators' failure to secure the release of Americans long detained in Iran, including Idaho's Pastor Saeed Abedini.  In a recent Senate speech, I had the opportunity to detail this strong opposition and share concerns about the threats to our national security and regional … Continue Reading

September 21, 2015

Idaho's Food Processing Growing Jobs And Economy

Early innovations enabling long-term storage of potatoes and onions gave way to later processing methods that have enabled Idaho agricultural producers to feed people far beyond Idaho's borders.  Idahoans led the way in growing and processing the food necessary to nourish American troops fighting in World War II, and have fed Americans and consumers around the world for decades.  Building on this productive history as a leading food processing state, Idaho is a hub for the expansion or relocatio… Continue Reading

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