April 23, 2014

Reading: Filling Up the Information Bank

We live in an accelerating world.  Advancing technology places an increasing premium on reading and writing well.  Quickly understanding complex and evolving terminology is required to run a household, be effective in the workplace, comprehend financial, health care and other information, get the most out of our education and use new information tools.  To ensure America's youth are able to succeed, we cannot let up in stressing the importance of continuous learning.                            … Continue Reading

April 09, 2014

Supporting New Farmers and Ranchers

Preliminary results from the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) 2012 Census of Agriculture confirm that the average age of the American farmer is continuing to increase.  With more pressure on our land and an expanding need for food worldwide, we must persist in looking for ways to address the challenges faced by those just starting out in farming and ranching.    USDA found that a mere 6 percent of principal farm operators are under 35 years old, and the average age of principal farm o… Continue Reading

April 07, 2014

Fannie-Freddie Wind Down Will Protect Taxpayers

Beginning last year, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson (D-South Dakota) and I held a series of in-depth hearings on how to reform our broken housing market.  The hearings examined the massive taxpayer intervention for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that occurred in 2008, and the negative consequences that have arisen as a result of the federal government controlling almost the entire mortgage finance market since then.  Building on those hearings and bipartisan legislation introduced by … Continue Reading

March 26, 2014

Healthy Foods Are the Pulse of Idaho

Getting out of Washington, D.C. and back to Idaho is rewarding enough; it is all the more so when I am fortunate enough to meet with Idaho students.  I recently had the opportunity to meet with students at Jenifer Junior High School in Lewiston, and join them for some healthy foods made from Idaho-grown pulse crops-peas, lentils, chickpeas and dry beans. Washington Senator Maria Cantwell and I worked to include special provisions for pulse crops in the new farm bill legislation approved earlier… Continue Reading

March 17, 2014

Celebrating Agriculture

According to data from the American Farm Bureau Federation, in 1940, the average U.S. farmer fed 19 people.  The number of people fed by our nation's farmers has steadily risen over the years, and now the average American farmer feeds nearly 155 people worldwide.  While we should recognize the hard work that goes into food production every day, a National Ag Day was created to celebrate the remarkable work of American farmers who feed our country and the world.  National Ag Day was establis… Continue Reading

March 10, 2014

Developing Leadership Among Idaho Youth

In 1962, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution to establish the U.S. Senate Youth Program (USSYP).  The program creators recognized the important role of talented youth who understand our nation's governmental functions in strengthening our country.   USSYP is a nationwide competitive high school program that provides students from each state with a short indoctrination into the operation of the U.S. Senate and the federal government.  This program is one of many opportunities that enhance interes… Continue Reading

March 03, 2014

Idaho Olympians

Americans and people around the world have gathered by their televisions to cheer on athletes in the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics.  Thanks to talented Idahoans competing this year we have had the opportunity to applaud local Olympians.  Idahoans earned two gold medals and one silver medal.  They contributed three of the U.S. team's 28 total medals. Idaho has been well-represented on the U.S. Olympic team:    Nick Cunningham, a graduate of Boise State University where he captained the tr… Continue Reading

February 24, 2014

Efficient Administration Of Justice

Ranking fifth in the nation, the Idaho Federal District Court was named one of America's most productive courts.  The court has consistently ranked as one of the most productive and efficient district courts in the country despite having only two judges and a very high caseload.  Bench presence and cases tried by an active district judge were among the factors considered in determining the court's overall productivity ranking.  The District of Idaho ranks eighth in the nation for the number of … Continue Reading

February 17, 2014

President Washington's Timeless Insight

With the help of Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, President George Washington presented his Farwell Address to the nation.  According to the United States Senate Historical Office, the Farwell Address was written at a time when President Washington was worn out by burdens of the presidency and attacks of political foes.  His principal concern was for the survival of the eight-year-old Constitution, and he believed that the stability of the new republic was threatened by the forces of geog… Continue Reading

February 10, 2014

Farm Bill: Supporting Idaho Agriculture And Forest Industries

I joined a bipartisan majority in the U.S. Senate and voted to approve the House-passed Agricultural Act of 2014 conference report, known as the Farm Bill.  All four members of the Idaho Congressional Delegation voted to support the final agreement.  This legislation is imperfect, as it could have better addressed spending concerns and costly permitting, labeling and inspection requirements.  However, overall, the legislation will reduce the deficit and help Idaho's agriculture and forest indust… Continue Reading

February 03, 2014

Our Country Faces Serious Challenges

I watched President Obama's State of the Union speech interested to see what his view is on the current condition of our nation and the challenges he plans to address in the weeks and months ahead.  President Obama's current economic approach seems to include adding to the tax and spending increases that have caused much of our nation's serious challenges.  His comments about his plans to use executive power to bypass Congress if Congress does not enact the policies he recommends are a step in t… Continue Reading

January 27, 2014

Improving Wildfire Resources

The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) reports that as of November 7, 2013 there were 1,456 wildland fires in Idaho that burned 714,057 acres last year.  As more resources go toward fire suppression, resources that could be used to implement projects that improve forest health, benefit forest communities and enhance public safety are squeezed.   To improve the health of our federal lands, decrease the threat of catastrophic fires and ensure that firefighters have the resources needed to p… Continue Reading

January 20, 2014

Idaho's Volunteerism Worthy Of Praise

With the generosity of Idahoans in our communities, it comes as no surprise that Idaho ranks among the top states in its rate of volunteerism.  The boundless charitable spirit of Idahoans is worthy of recognition and praise. In a study released in December, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and the National Conference on Citizenship (NCoC) ranked Idaho third among the states for volunteerism and civic engagement.  According to the study, 36.5 percent of Idaho residents v… Continue Reading

January 13, 2014

Food Safety Need Not Cripple Production

Just before the end of the year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) took a welcome step in announcing it would revise provisions of its proposed fresh produce rules that have been of concern due to the potential placement of unnecessary, costly burdens on certain farming operations, probable impacts on conservation efforts and more.  This provides an opportunity to go in a different direction andhelp ensure that new food safety measures fix problems without crippling production. On… Continue Reading

January 06, 2014

Idaho Farmers And Ranchers Help Feed The World

The U.S. Trade Representative reported that, in 2012 alone, the U.S. sold $235 million worth of potatoes, $42 million worth of beans, $1.1 billion worth of apples and $53.3 billion worth of corn products to consumers around the world.  These are just a few examples of how American farmers and ranchers are helping to meet the challenge of feeding a growing world population. According to the Idaho State Department of Agriculture, Idahoans produce more than 185 different agricultural commodities… Continue Reading

December 23, 2013

Honoring Native American Heritage

The five Native American tribes of Idaho-the Coeur d'Alene, Kootenai, Nez Perce, Shoshone-Bannock and Shoshone-Paiute-contribute to Idaho's rich culture and are intrinsic to Idaho's history and development.  In recognition of their important role in our communities, for the past five years, I have supported legislation to celebrate the heritages of Native Americans and their contributions to the United States.  The resolution I co-sponsored, which was passed by the Senate by Unanimous Consent o… Continue Reading

December 16, 2013

Protecting Water Sovereignty

Our water is one of our greatest resources.  Access to clean, abundant water is fundamental to our economic well-being and critical to communities, economic development, agriculture, commerce, transportation, recreation and energy.  Efforts to expand the federal government's jurisdiction over our waters threaten to upset the appropriate involvement of state, federal, local and private parties in effective water quality management policies.  That is why I recently joined 29 of my Senate colleague… Continue Reading

December 09, 2013

Pushing Back Against UN Arms Trade Treaty

International organizations like the United Nations (UN) cannot deny American citizens the right to bear arms.  We must protect and preserve this constitutional right.  That is why I joined 49 of my Senate colleagues in writing to President Obama to express strong concerns about his decision to sign the UN's Arms Trade Treaty.  We conveyed our opposition to ratification of this treaty and that we do not regard the U.S. as bound to uphold the treaty's purpose.  On April 2, 2013, the UN approved … Continue Reading

December 02, 2013

Health Care Reform: We Need A New Direction

I recently shared in the Senate some of the infuriating experiences of Idahoans who are among the more than three million Americans now losing health care coverage and facing much higher premiums due to the Affordable Care Act.  The promises of the flawed health care law are nothing like the realities.  The American people deserve health care reform with permanent solutions to the drops in coverage, rising premiums and other problems, not temporary fixes that exacerbate public confusion about Ob… Continue Reading

November 25, 2013

Thinking Of Idahoans Far From Home

This Thanksgiving and throughout the holidays we will join together with family and friends to celebrate our many blessings-time with loved ones, health, contentment, a home, food on our tables.  Whatever our blessings may be, let us keep those Idahoans who are far from home in our thoughts and prayers.  Unfortunately, many Idahoans are spending the holidays separated from their loved ones.  Included among them are Boise Pastor Saeed Abedini and Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl of Hailey, Idaho.  Sgt. Bowe B… Continue Reading

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