May 11, 2015

Youth Challenge Program

Organization-Maturity-Discipline-Motivation-These are qualities a graduate of the National Guard Youth Challenge Program credited the program with instilling in him.  The National Guard Youth Challenge Program provides training and mentorship for struggling youth to help set them on a productive course.  The program's mission is to "intervene in and reclaim the lives of 16-18 year old high school dropouts, producing program graduates with the values, life skills, education, and self-discipline … Continue Reading

May 04, 2015

Advancing County Payments

Extending Secure Rural Schools and Self Determination Act (SRS) payments and fully funding Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) is not a simple undertaking, especially considering the federal government's overspending problem.  However, when the federal government took over millions of acres of lands across our nation, it also took on the responsibility for the impact of federal ownership on local communities.  The federal government can, and must, meet its responsibility within its budget. A provi… Continue Reading

April 27, 2015

Ending Operation Choke Point

Last summer, news reports surfaced regarding a U.S. Department of Justice-led (DOJ) initiative that targets certain industries' ability to access banking services without first showing the companies are not breaking the law.  Rather than targeting bad actors for illegal activity, this effort, known as Operation Choke Point, is causing banks to deny or terminate credit lines due to fear of DOJ subpoenas or unjustified regulatory action by federal banking regulators.  Legitimate industries-legal, … Continue Reading

April 13, 2015

Planning Ahead

As a Boy Scout, I grew up with the motto of "Be Prepared."  As an adult, this enduring phrase is all the more meaningful.  Thinking through and developing plans for emergency situations, including natural disasters or wildfires, can help with a timely recovery when problems arise.  A number of resources and recommendations are available to help us get through and bounce back from tough situations. Putting together an emergency supply kit is encouraged to prepare for disasters such as fire and s… Continue Reading

April 06, 2015

EPA Must Not Undercut Water Projects

The importance of having clean water cannot be overstated.  The fact that we can turn on the tap in most places of our country and know that the water we drink will not make us sick happens because communities across our nation invest in the infrastructure necessary to ensure high water quality.  This is not easy, especially with often rigid and increasingly stringent federal mandates and limited pools of resources to meet them.  My hat goes off to the towns across Idaho and our nation that deli… Continue Reading

March 30, 2015

Safeguarding Our Second Amendment Rights

Some lands and water managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Corps) are open for hunting, and there are a small number of authorized shooting ranges, but much of the millions of acres managed by the Corps are off limits to lawful possession of firearms.  Not only is this a violation of the intent of the Second Amendment, but also it is inconsistent with laws and regulations governing lands managed by other federal agencies.  This problem must be fixed to uphold Americans' Second Amendment r… Continue Reading

March 23, 2015

No More Shortchanging Seniors

I recently led a bipartisan group of 52 senators in calling on the Administration to refrain from making additional harmful cuts to the successful, market-based Medicare Advantage (MA) program.  These targeted cuts, coupled with the drastic reductions to the program under Obamacare, mean increased out-of-pocket costs, fewer coverage options, reduced benefits and, in many cases, cancelled plans for seniors.  This shortchanging of America's seniors must stop. Medicare Advantage, which remains one… Continue Reading

March 16, 2015

Opportunity To Get It Right For Veterans

While living in a state as vast as Idaho has immeasurable benefits, veterans living in rural Idaho communities must travel great distances to access needed medical services.  Last summer, Congress passed legislation establishing the Veterans Choice Program following reports of veterans having difficulty accessing care.  Through the program, veterans who experience a significant appointment scheduling delay or who have to travel more than 40 miles to receive U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (V… Continue Reading

March 09, 2015

Stopping IRS Mistreatment of Small Businesses

At a recent House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight hearing, a Maryland dairy farmer testified about Internal Revenue Service (IRS) agents seizing $62,000 from his family's bank account and filing criminal charges after his family made cash deposits from dairy sales.  Like many Idaho producers, his family gets up early every day to operate and manage the farm.  The farmer, who has faced losing the family farm several times throughout its operation, testified that the IRS returned litt… Continue Reading

March 02, 2015

Working To Eliminate The Veterinarian Shortage

Food animal veterinarians are part of the first line of defense in ensuring food safety and public health, improving animal health and welfare and safeguarding our homeland from foreign animal disease.  Unfortunately, many agricultural communities across our nation that need veterinarians the most have experienced a shortage in essential veterinarian services in recent years.  That is why I recently introduced the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program Enhancement Act that would address the … Continue Reading

February 23, 2015

Checking Executive Powers

Congress' Constitutional oversight and authority is an integral part of the American system of checks and balances.  More than ever, Congress has a responsibility to this country to ensure that our co-equal branches of government function in a manner consistent with the Constitution.  For the past six years, the Obama Administration has acted with willful disregard for the American people and repeatedly exceeded the bounds of the law in pursuit of its own far-reaching political agenda.  From fl… Continue Reading

February 16, 2015

Increasing ESA Transparency

According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS), 22species have been listed in Idaho under the Endangered Species Act (ESA).  There are 1,590ESA listings nationwide.  The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service reported that only 28species have been delisted due to recovery in the more than 40 years since the ESA's enactment.  Considering the long-term, far-reaching and rigid conservation requirements that accompany listings, we must especially ensure that any ESA determinatio… Continue Reading

February 09, 2015

Still Needed: Responsible Budgeting

The U.S. Congressional Budget Office's (CBO) annual Budget and Economic Outlook report shows that, absent action, the United States continues to remain on an unsustainable fiscal path with the national debt expected to grow by $9 trillion over the course of the next ten years.  According to CBO, the cost of the interest payments alone on the debt are expected to rise by 5.6 trillion, which would account for roughly 13.5 percent of total annual federal spending.  Our nation's fiscal picture is cl… Continue Reading

February 02, 2015

Reining In Federal Regulation

Duplicative, often burdensome federal regulations imposed on the private sector continue to stifle economic growth and discourage innovation.  An efficient and accountable regulatory structure is of paramount importance and fundamental to ensuring taxpayer dollars are being used properly.  Regulators must make our communities and small businesses-those most impacted-a central part of the decision-making process.  The non-partisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) reported that 409 "major" … Continue Reading

January 26, 2015

Keystone XL Pipeline Considerations

To say the Keystone XL pipeline project has been analyzed extensively is an understatement.  Over the more than 7 years since TransCanada originally applied for a Presidential Permit, the U.S. State Department has conducted extensive studies of this project in coordination with at least 12 federal agencies, along with various state and local agencies and Indian tribes and considered nearly 1.9 million comments.  The following are some considerations as Congress debates the project's merits.  … Continue Reading

January 19, 2015

Senate Environment Committee Priorities: Opportunities For Progress

As the 114 th Congress begins, I welcome the opportunity to serve again on the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, because this committee focuses on environmental issues affecting our nation's natural resources, which are fundamental to Idaho.  The committee will be following new common-sense principles and focusing on issues of importance to Idahoans. In addition to oversight of agencies such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the EPW Committee has jurisdictio… Continue Reading

January 12, 2015

Pressing Ahead

Considerable work is required in the 114 th Congress to build the foundation for a competitive, national economy that encourages innovation and job growth.  Improving our nation's economic wellbeing-which includes reforming our badly broken tax code, reforming entitlement programs to ensure their solvencyand establishing powerful budget controls-remains my number one priority.  In the 114 th Congress, I will use my committee assignments on the Senate Budget Committee; Senate Finance Committee;… Continue Reading

January 05, 2015

From The Mailbag: Keystone XL Pipeline

As active 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 top issues constituents have contacted me about recently include interest in the Keystone XL pipeline project.  The following is my response: Canadian oil company TransCanada has been working with the U.S. Departme… Continue Reading

December 29, 2014

Cybersecurity: A Non-Stop Job

With the holiday shopping season well underway, consumers, retailers and banks are reminded of the great need to protect financial data and payment information.  Statistics show that data breaches do not necessarily increase during some of the busiest shopping days of the year, but each swipe of the card is a stark reminder of the significant amount of trust placed with retailers and financial institutions to keep our private financial information safe and secure. Consumers, businesses and our … Continue Reading

December 22, 2014

Veterans Survey Findings

Over the past few months, I have written about efforts to seek input from Idaho veterans about their experiences with veterans' services.  On Veterans Day, I released the results of my Fall 2014 Veterans Survey.  The survey results are guiding my efforts on behalf of Idaho's veterans and are being shared with officials in Washington, D.C., and with the VA to help push meaningful policy changes. More than 1,000 Idahoans from the veterans community participated in the survey.  More than 80 percen… Continue Reading

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