September 17, 2018

Weekly Column: Judge Kavanaugh Will Protect Our Constitution

In a 1987 radio address to the nation, President Ronald Reagan stated, "Our judges should be faithful to the written Constitution, the bedrock of our liberties." This guiding principle remains as important today as it has always been. Our judicial system must be guided by our Constitution to protect American freedoms, which remain an inspiration to people around the world. As a member of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, I recently participated in roughly a week-long hearing to consider… Continue Reading

September 10, 2018

Weekly Column: Keeping The Door Open For Veterans

Last summer, I had the opportunity to place my handprint on the civilian side of a door Melanie Foster, Jr. Vice Commander for the Department of Idaho Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), takes to veterans events. She helps raise awareness about suicide prevention, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injuries. Veterans have placed handprints on one side of the door, while families, friends and veteran advocates have signed the other side. As we recognize September as Suicide P… Continue Reading

September 03, 2018

Weekly Column: Protecting Against Security Threats From Foreign Bad Actors

Recently, the President signed into law the John S. McCain 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, fulfilling one of Congress's most serious responsibilities to provide for and protect our nation's military servicemembers. This legislation will strengthen our military's readiness, provide our troops a pay raise, support effective implementation of the National Defense Strategy, drive further innovation in emerging technologies to secure our military advantage, and continue to reform t… Continue Reading

August 27, 2018

Weekly Column: Connecting Idaho Veterans With Opportunity

For those who have spent years serving in and rising through the ranks of the U.S. military, embarking on an entirely new path in the civilian sector after service can be daunting. Despite today's positive economic climate, with historically low unemployment and many sectors reporting more jobs than people to fill them, thousands of servicemembers separating from the military each year with valuable skills, leadership experience and strong work ethic still face challenges to accessing these opp… Continue Reading

August 20, 2018

Weekly Column: Thank You, Firefighters

Many have seen pictures of the flames that threatened Dubois. Heroic efforts saved the town from the Grassy Ridge Fire that has burned thousands of acres. Firefighters lined the perimeter and actively stopped the fire line just two miles outside of town, as the town was evacuated and neighbors worked together to move cattle and help build fire breaks. This is a recent example of the countless times the great people of Idaho have stepped in to help others. And, it reminds us of the courageous… Continue Reading

August 13, 2018

Weekly Column: Supporting All Parts Of Opioid Fight To Help Make Further Progress

An important part of furthering progress in combatting opioid abuse is ensuring resources are in place for every piece of the response to this pervasive problem. Medical examiners, coroners and toxicologists have an important role in addressing the opioid crisis, and they have had increased manpower and resource pressures as more autopsies and toxicology testing are required to respond to increased deaths from opioid abuse. I joined a bipartisan effort to ensure that local forensic medicine is… Continue Reading

August 06, 2018

Weekly Column: Farm Bill--Not Broken, Don't Fix It

A message I have heard clearly from Idahoans in the town meetings I have been holding across our great state and in discussions with Idaho producers and agricultural leaders is the current Farm Bill is not broken and does not require major changes. I have approached the current effort in Congress to reauthorize the Farm Bill with this principle in mind. While Farm Bills have largely been bipartisan, the Senate passed its version of the 2018 Farm Bill with the most bipartisan vote in recent his… Continue Reading

July 30, 2018

Weekly Column: Balancing Road Safety With Realities Of Ag Production

Holding town meetings in all of Idaho's communities enables me to hear clearly some of the most pressing issues on the minds of Idahoans. Oftentimes those concerns are echoed by their neighbors and in other communities. At town meetings held earlier this year in Idaho's unincorporated communities, Idahoans shared concerns about the impacts of the Electronic Logging Device (ELD) mandate on safely hauling Idaho agricultural goods, including livestock and perishable commodities such as milk and f… Continue Reading

July 23, 2018

Weekly Column: Advancing Judges Who Will Protect The Constitution

Our nation's first president, George Washington, wrote in 1789, "The administration of justice is the firmest pillar of government." The judicial system's critical role in our constitutional republic is reflected in the process for appointing federal judges, which apportions responsibility between the two political branches of government. The Senate Judiciary Committee, on which I serve, is tasked with considering judicial nominations, including for the U.S. Supreme Court, appellate courts and… Continue Reading

July 16, 2018

Weekly Column: Backing Collaborative Forest Management

The U.S. Forest Service reports that between 2010 and 2016, Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program (CFLRP) projects resulted in the treatment of more than 2.4 million acres to reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfires and the maintenance of 630 miles of trails. The agency also found that $1.2 billion in local labor income, and an average of 5,180 jobs were created or maintained each year nationwide through CFLRP projects. Each fire season, the threat of wildfires bears down on many… Continue Reading

July 09, 2018

Weekly Column: Freeing The Engines Of Our Communities

I often think about the Americans in communities across this nation who have sat at their desks well into the night trying to make sure they filed necessary paperwork and kept up to date on federal regulations so they can keep their small businesses afloat, provide for their families and ensure steady income for their employees. These producers are the engines of our communities and economy. One of my top priorities in Congress has been to curtail unreasonable government mandates unnecessarily… Continue Reading

July 02, 2018

Weekly Column: Celebrating Our Shared Independence

On the Fourth of July, we celebrate independence-the heart of Americanism. Our shared responsibility to safeguard our independence serves as a unifying force. Our form of government has withstood the tests of 242 years because of our commitment to protecting the freedoms that our inspired founders affirmed in the Declaration of Independence, the adoption of which we celebrate this holiday: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their… Continue Reading

June 25, 2018

Weekly Column: Untangling Veterans Health Care

I was contacted by an Idaho veteran who was denied U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) coverage for an emergency hospital visit because he had not been to a VA doctor in the past 24 months. This veteran is among thousands of veterans nationwide caught up in complicated requirements. Legislation I authored was recently signed into law that will help make non-VA health care options more straightforward for veterans. This new law requires the creation of an education program to inform veter… Continue Reading

June 18, 2018

Weekly Column: Our Economy--Heading In The Right Direction

Unemployment is down, way down to the lowest national rate in many years, at 3.8 percent in May. As of April, unemployment was at 2.9 percent in Idaho. Employers added 223,000 jobs nationwide in May alone. Average hourly earnings have increased 2.7 percent. Small business owners report record-level employee compensation and more job openings than qualified applicants. This data from the U.S. Department of Labor, the Idaho Department of Labor and NFIB, along with reports of property values… Continue Reading

June 11, 2018

Weekly Column: Honoring Peace Officers

"Blessed are the Peacemakers . . ." is etched in a stone waterfall at the center of the Idaho Peace Officers' Memorial in Meridian. The names of the 71 Idaho officers killed in the line of duty are memorialized on the boulders surrounding the waterfall. The memorial and the ceremonies held there and at other memorials throughout the state to honor fallen officers help ensure that this devoted service is justly remembered. The U.S. Senate recently unanimously passed a resolution that lists… Continue Reading

June 04, 2018

Weekly Column: Holding Veterans Services Administrator--Health Net--Accountable

"We are fed up. In our view, the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) management of the Health Net contract has been a failure. While Health Net is the administrator of the Veterans Choice Program in our states, VA is ultimately accountable for Health Net's poor performance." In March, I joined ten fellow senators in calling on the VA to address ongoing concerns with Health Net's poor performance in administering the Veterans Choice Program (Choice program). The VA promptly responded that He… Continue Reading

May 28, 2018

Weekly Column: Memorial Day: Honoring Fallen Heroes

Thank you to all those who gather to honor our fallen heroes at Memorial Day events throughout Idaho, and especially, thank you to all those who have served our nation and support the service of others. A commitment to honoring the service of Idahoans who protect and defend our nation is a fundamental part of Idaho communities. Idahoans have established many places and events around our great state that provide opportunities to honor military families and reflect on their immense service. An … Continue Reading

May 21, 2018

Weekly Column: Honoring Idaho's Teachers

Rebecca (Becky) Mitchell, who is the head of the language arts program at Vision Charter School in Caldwell, was selected to be the 2018 Idaho Teacher of the Year. Becky is recognized as a teacher who is committed to preparing students for life after high school and encouraging students to pursue higher education. Becky is a great example of Idaho teachers who dedicate their time and talents to inspiring students. As the school year draws to a close in many districts, it is a good time to tha… Continue Reading

May 14, 2018

Weekly Column: Keep Moving To End Domestic Violence

When I think about the impacts of domestic violence, I think about a couple of young children I met years ago at a safe house in Twin Falls County. I will never forget them. I have referred to them often as I have spoken and written about domestic violence. The effects of abuse on their lives touched me deeply and helped cement my focus on abuse prevention. We owe it to them and all those affected by domestic violence to keep moving forward in ending this abuse. The Violence Against Wo… Continue Reading

May 07, 2018

Weekly Column: Protecting Our Second Amendment Rights

In recent weeks, several financial services firms have issued new guidelines that could effectively cut off financial services to law-abiding firearm manufacturers, retailers and firearms purchasers if they do not comply with the bank's firearms preferences. This raises serious concerns about large financial institutions-that receive significant forms of government support and benefits-using their market power to manage social policy by withholding access to credit from customers and companies … Continue Reading

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