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Congress must address tax relief, spending restraint, energy security

Washington, DC - Idaho Senator Mike Crapo released the following statement after President Bush's State of the Union address this evening:

"I listened closely to President Bush this evening as he delivered his message about his plans for the coming year, and was pleased that he touched on issues that many Idahoans are concerned about-education, the economy, housing, health care, energy, federal spending and national security. Our country does indeed face many challenges, and it will take strong leadership and cooperation from the President and Congress to find resolutions that will benefit Americans. I appreciate his recognition of the need for bipartisanship and working together. The American people deserve no less.

"Congress must address the unfinished business outlined by the President, starting with the economy. I agree with the President that we must trust people with their own money and empower them by finding the right solutions to stimulate the economy, making the tax relief enacted several years ago permanent, and demonstrating fiscally-sound federal spending plans. As a member of the Senate Budget and Finance Committees, I will be heavily involved in reviewing and crafting the Senate's economic stimulus package, which needs to provide appropriate short-term and long-term solutions. Congress also needs to address the concerns and frustrations over home mortgages and lending practices, an issue that the Senate Banking Committee has been and will continue to review carefully. It is also vital that we examine entitlement spending, which accounts for nearly two-thirds of the federal budget. Without reform, such programs as Social Security and Medicare will not be able to provide the services that have been so vital for many Americans.

"We must act to keep our nation in the lead in the increasingly competitive global economy. America must ensure that students who wish to attend college can afford to do so; it is the only way that we can keep our competitive edge in important technology, science and math fields. Congress should work with the President to ensure that we open new markets for American products and services. We also must address our ever-growing energy needs, finding ways to make our nation more energy-secure. Nuclear energy is a vital segment of a diversified energy portfolio.

"It is imperative that we tackle the immigration challenges facing our country. Congress must pursue a sensible policy that does not reward those who have benefited from illegal actions, one that does not provide amnesty. But we need to reach a solution that also recognizes the needs of agriculture and industry with the immigrant work force; Idaho's agriculture industry has a serious need for a legal way to address this situation. I will work to accomplish that.

"Lastly, the War on Terror has divided our country, but it is important that we do all that we can to defend Americans and keep our nation safe and secure. In addition, our troops and veterans need our strong support, and I will continue to support efforts to make certain that the health care and other funding and employment efforts for them is adequate, timely and available.

"Each year, as the President lays out his vision for the coming year, a bipartisan response is needed in order to accomplish the goals that our country should meet. As always, the devil is in the details of each of the proposals that are outlined. It is important that Congress embarks on an effort to ensure that our country's best interests are the priority of any legislative effort. I look forward to working with the President and my colleagues to enhance our economy and improve the lives of Americans."