Holiday Greetings from Senator Enzi
*To watch Senator Enzi and Diana’s holiday video message, click here.
This is a special time of year. It’s the holiday season and it happens every winter. You would think it’d get old after a while, but no matter how many of them we’ve seen in our lives, each time we see the snow, hear our favorite holiday songs and think about family and friends, somehow it seems to magically all become new again.
It’s remarkable how this special holiday season can bring about such a profound change in our hearts. The lesson it teaches serves as a reminder that the greatest gift we have in life isn’t something we bought at the local store, but the treasures of family, and friends. It’s the feeling of hope and trust in our God, and our love for our country.
Diana and I wish all of you a very happy holiday season. However you choose to celebrate it, may it be the best ever, and may the coming new year bring the happiest of days for you and for all those you love.
In this newsletter, my staff and I have summarized some of the most noteworthy issues I've been working on for Wyoming. Thank you for subscribing to my newsletter. More information is available on my Web site. I look forward to hearing from you if you have any questions or comments.
Headlines and Highlights
“Big Three” automakers bailout
Congress sent home the executives of Detroit’s “Big Three” automakers – General Motors, Chrysler and Ford – last month to devise better business plans before bringing up a rescue package for a vote in either the Senate or House of Representatives. The CEOs returned to Congress at the beginning of December with more substantive plans, and the White House and Senate Leadership worked to put together a $14 billion loan package for the three with a promise for more aid in March if needed.
Senator Enzi and 34 of his fellow senators voted against the flawed package that still left too many details to chance on how the Big Three planned to restructure and avoid bankruptcy even with taxpayers’ $14 billion. The legislation, which needed 60 votes to pass, failed 52 to 35.
Senator Enzi believes that the automakers must restructure and build long-term plans for success before seeking billions of dollars in a taxpayer-funded loan. He is against using Wyoming taxpayers' hard-earned money to bail out the bad decisions of private companies.
Protecting the Second Amendment in national parks
The Department of Interior took a big step forward to protect the Second Amendment last month, announcing that law-abiding citizens will soon be able to carry guns in national parks and wildlife refuges. A year ago, Senator Enzi and 51 of his Senate colleagues wrote to Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne asking him to update the department’s policies that restrict carrying of firearms. Kempthorne responded to the senators’ letter by proposing an update to the gun policies.
After receiving comments from across the nation on the secretary’s proposal, the Department of Interior will now institute a policy allowing firearms to be carried in national parks and wildlife refuges as long as the concealed weapons permit holder is “authorized to do so on similar state lands in the state in which the national park or refuge is located.” Senator Enzi is pleased that law-abiding gun owners will have the opportunity to exercise their Second Amendment rights in national parks without having to worry about confusing laws about when they can and can’t have their weapons in accessible places and where they can use them.
On the Horizon
The Senate will convene the 111th Congress on Jan. 6 with the swearing in of new members. Issues to be considered early on next year may include an economic stimulus package and another version of the automaker bailout if the White House does not provide aid to General Motors, Chrysler and Ford before January. Health care reform will also likely be a major issue addressed by Congress next year, and Senator Enzi will play a key role in that debate as Ranking Member of the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee.
Help with the Federal Government
Enzi's state staff is trained to help Wyoming residents if they are having trouble dealing with the federal government for passports, tax discrepancies, veterans benefits and social security payments to name a few. Enzi has five offices in Wyoming.
Gillette, 682-6268 Cheyenne, 772-2477 Cody, 527-9444
Jackson, 739-9507 Casper, 261-6572
Wyoming to receive $100.7M in AML funds
Wyoming is set to receive about $100.7 million from the federal government during the 2009 fiscal year as payment in Abandoned Mine Land (AML) money. This year's total is $18 million more than the state received last year. Through legislation sponsored by Senator Enzi and passed by Congress in 2006, Wyoming now receives its rightful share of AML funds annually and is also collecting the $550 million the federal government has owed the state for decades. The $550 million is being returned to Wyoming in equal payments over the course of seven years.
Protecting U.S. beef
Senator Enzi and Senator Tim Johnson, D-S.D., continued their work to protect the American beef supply by stopping the U.S. Department of Agriculture's plan to allow importation of livestock from Foot and Mouth Disease-prone Argentina. Last month, Enzi and Johnson wrote Secretary of Agriculture Ed Schaefer, highlighting comments by USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Services chief veterinary officer that the plan should not move forward until a review of Argentina's last risk assessment is conducted. Enzi and Johnson reiterated the importance of ensuring that Argentina is determined to be free of Foot and Mouth by USDA before importation begins, and their efforts were successful – the proposed plan will not advance until a USDA inspection team visits Argentina and reviews its disease monitoring systems.
World AIDS Day
Dec. 1 marked the 20th anniversary of World AIDS Day. According to the Wyoming Department of Health, 166 Wyoming residents had HIV/AIDS as of Dec. 31, 2007. While that is the second lowest rate of AIDS cases in the country, Wyoming has seen data indicating a relatively large increase in cases this year. In 2008, 24 residents have already joined Wyoming’s HIV/AIDS Early Intervention Services program compared to the six to 10 new cases that are typically added to the program each year. As Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Enzi will continue to work with his fellow committee members on renewing and improving the Ryan White Care Act, which provides care and treatment for individuals with HIV and AIDS in the United States.