Congress faces many important deadlines in the coming months regarding the budget. These deadlines are the result of repeated failures by Congress to address America's financial problems. If this Congress does not own up to overspending and stop kicking the problem further down the road, at some point in the not-too-distant future our credit will run out and our economy will suffer a catastrophic meltdown. Here are a few upcoming opportunities Congress should use to take control of the debt:
It remains to be seen if the philosophical differences of our belief in reducing government versus the other side's raising taxes will continue to gridlock our government.
In this age of 24-hour media and quick sound bites to get across important issues, the real-life examples behind the sound bites are never fully explained. One sound bite you may have heard frequently (and certainly will hear in the future) is "job-killing regulations."
I have used the phrase as well as other members of the Idaho delegation in an attempt to highlight federal regulations that are preventing or slowing down the creation of jobs in our state and country. In fact, more than 64,000 pages of federal regulations have been published since January 1 of this year, costing American businesses billions in compliance and reporting costs - something I recently discussed with Lou Dobbs. Let me move beyond the sound bite and give you some real Idaho examples of why we say federal regulations are hurting the creation of jobs.
I could go on with more examples, but I think you get my point – federal regulations harm the creation of jobs and take money out of our economy. So the next time you hear the phrase "job-killing regulations," you will know it is more than a sound bite and impacts us here at home.
One topic I am frequently contacted about is illegal immigration.
The federal government's top responsibility is to defend the borders of the nation. The men and women who take on this responsibility are doing a tremendous job keeping us safe from foreign threats, but their efforts to enforce immigration laws are often undermined by policies and directives flowing out of Washington.
In the past few months, two such proposals that undermine the rule of law have been passed down by the administration. In June, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Director John Morton urged his agency to use "prosecutorial discretion" in deciding which of the pending 300,000 federal deportation cases to pursue, or in other words, stop deporting people. That effort was followed up in August, by Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Janet Napolitano directing DHS to close the books on any non-criminal, public menace cases and, in certain circumstances, grant conditional permanent residency.
This kind of selective enforcement is outrageous. No one should be rewarded for breaking the law. I have joined with 18 senators in writing the president to express our frustration and concerns with these policies. In our letter, we asked him to rescind these directives and work with Congress to address illegal immigration. We can do this, but working unilaterally will never achieve the practical, workable immigration system we need.
Last month, I joined with Senator Crapo, Congressman Simpson and Congressman Labrador in introducing legislation to strengthen the Endangered Species Act (ESA) by protecting the right of self-defense. The case of Jeremy Hill, an Idahoan, was our motivation for this action.
In August, Mr. Hill was charged with a violation of the ESA for killing a grizzly bear on his property. It's obvious to everyone who followed the case that he was not hunting a grizzly bear, rather he was protecting his family which he truly believed was in harm's way.
Under current law, self defense and defense of human life are exceptions to the Endangered Species Act. In this case, the U.S. Attorney took that to mean one must visually witness an attack or near attack before acting. Since Mr. Hill did not visually see the threat against his children, he was charged with killing a protected species.
While this case was later resolved with lesser charges, obvious discrepancies between what the law prohibits and how it is implemented remain. Our legislation addresses those differences by authorizing the Secretary of Interior to also determine if there was a reasonable belief of imminent danger posed by a protected species at the time it was taken.
Over the past few months I have made several stops around the state. The snapshots below highlight a few. Visit the "Photo Galleries" page on my website to see more.
Meeting with Boy Scout Troop 358 in Potlatch
Congratulating Congressional Award Winners at the Statehouse
Speaking to the Twin Falls Kiwanis Club