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Weekly Column: Working For Idahoans

Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo

An important part of the great honor of representing Idahoans in the U.S. Senate is keeping folks informed about legislation advancing in Congress.  The following are some highlights of legislation and policy changes we made significant progress on in 2021. 

Helped Idaho Producers Compete Globally

  • As Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, I worked with Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) to negotiate a strong trade package, the Trade Act of 2021, to combat China’s unfair trade practices, strengthen our relationship with allies, and support the negotiation of digital trade agreements.  The Trade Act will strengthen America’s competitive footing and help Idaho’s hardworking producers compete globally.  I successfully used the Senate filibuster to convince Senate leadership to vote on including the Trade Act in the broader U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA).  The Senate overwhelmingly passed the Trade Act as an amendment to the USICA by a vote of 91-4.  I continue to press for its enactment.
  • We also made important progress in convincing Mexico to remove its restrictions on the importation of fresh potatoes to a limited border zone.  In April, the Mexican Supreme Court cleared the way to allow the Mexican federal government to issue import regulations.  I am continuing to work to ensure Idaho’s farmers are once again able to sell high-quality potatoes throughout Mexico. 
  • The U.S. also prevailed over Canada in the first-ever dispute settlement case brought under the United States-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA).  The panel found Canada to be in violation of the agreement for failing to open its dairy market sufficiently to U.S. imports.  This historic victory is an important step in eliminating unjustified trade restrictions on American dairy products. 

Stopped Job-Killing Tax Hikes 

  • As the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, I introduced legislation to protect Idahoans from tax enforcement abuses and have used every opportunity to shed light on the job-killing tax hikes and overspending in the Democrats’ reckless tax-and-spending bill.  This includes leading opposition to harmful corporate and individual tax increases, in particular on small businesses and families, and preventing a proposal to allow the Internal Revenue Service to collect private financial information from individuals' bank accounts.  I will continue to work to stop this terribly misguided legislation from advancing. 
  • Additionally, the American Rescue Plan Act included a provision that would have prevented states from using relief funds to cut state taxes.  I led a Senate effort to ensure states can make their own economic and budgetary decisions without unnecessary federal intervention. 

Supported Our Military and Allies 

  • The Fiscal Year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act was signed into law in December, and contains a number of provisions to help Idaho’s women and men in uniform conduct their missions forcefully and efficiently.  This includes a 2.7 percent pay raise for military servicemembers and authorized funds for Idaho projects
  • Amid the haphazard withdrawal from Afghanistan and the unknown and dangerous future for Americans and Afghan allies who remained in the country, I have worked to secure evacuations from Afghanistan and pressed for continued oversight of the repercussions of this hasty withdrawal.  

Backed Idaho Communities 

  • In November, a three-year reauthorization of the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) program, through Fiscal Year 2023, was signed into law.  I have long championed these payments that are critical to maintain education programs for many rural counties that contain federal lands exempt from property taxes.  
  • At the urging of the Idaho Congressional Delegation, the U.S. Small Business Administration approved the Idaho Hispanic Foundation (IHF) for a Community Navigator Pilot Program grant that will enable the IHF, in concert with the Idaho Women’s Business Center, to support entrepreneurial activities in traditionally underserved areas of Idaho.  Many other projects like this are creating more career opportunities across our state and keeping families together in our communities.

This is just a snapshot of the efforts underway on behalf of Idahoans in the 117th Congress.  I have introduced and advocated for many other pieces of legislation and federal policy covering various topics including stopping federal government power grabs; ensuring Idahoans have access to an efficient court system; lowering prescription drug prices; protecting Second Amendment rights; providing quality veterans services and support; expanding and extending the RECA program;  improving opportunities to save for retirement; supporting our nuclear energy infrastructure; boosting energy innovation; and much more.  I continue to work on these and many other efforts on behalf of the people of our great state as the second half of the 117th Congress begins. 

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