Michael B. Enzi (MBE) -- I'll start off with a brief statement and then open it up for questions on absolutely anything you want to ask me about. We'll just proceed that way. We are in the closing weeks of the 105th Congress right now and we are trying to meet all the deadlines for getting the appropriations bills finished. We are running into some difficulty on that. The Democrats are filibustering any appropriation bill that comes up and making some statements on bills that they know have absolutely no chance of passing in order to make a statement about that bill. The reason they don't have a chance of passing is because they are not willing to compromise on anything at this point. But it becomes a nice distraction for anything else that happens to be happening in Washington. I notice that the President, over the weekend, has been out traveling again and making comments about how Congress wants to do tax cuts and spend the Social Security money. I want to clear up that point right now. What it's really coming down to is a choice between cutting taxes or spending more money. The Republicans in Congress have decided that they thought it was better to give the people their money back so they can spend it the way that they feel is correct rather than putting it into brand new programs that will have an ever escalating thirst for federal money. The President, in the meantime, is insisting that we start some of these new programs. He's up to about $19 billion of requests that he is insisting on before he will let us pass any of the appropriations bills. He has a virtual veto registered for any appropriations bill that we pass. That provides a nice distraction but we are going to have to cut through all of that and get to the concluding business for government. It will be interesting to see whether there will be a cut in taxes or an increase in spending or probably the compromise that should have been done to begin with which is to save Social Security first. That's what the Republicans asked for last year. We were absolutely delighted when the President had that as a keynote in his State of the Union speech. He said, "Let's save Social Security first." That's the last we heard of it until the last week. There hasn't been one proposal to put one dime by a Democrat into Social Security. But there has been by the Republicans. We're not trying to make this a Republican versus Democrat issue. We are just trying to get the right thing done, which is to get the appropriations completed and to save Social Security. So don't get lost in the rhetoric over the next couple of weeks but follow what we're doing. With that I'll throw it open to any questions.
Pat Turner (PT) -- We had an issue come up during my talk show last week dealing with NAFTA and free trade agreement and imports from Canada. I understand you are working on two measures right now that are of interest to us up here in Sheridan County S. 617, which is the Imported Meat Labeling Act and the Interstate Distribution of Meat Act. Can you kind of walk us through those and tell us if you think NAFTA is working the way its authors thought it was supposed to?
MBE -- Yes, I'd be really happy to. We are trying to increase the sale of Wyoming beef anywhere we can. One of the things we'll have to do to be able to increase those sales is to be able get our product across state lines. We've proposed that the Wyoming packers or any other packers in any state only have to follow the same laws that we are requiring the Canadian packers to follow when they bring beef into the United States. They would still be allowed to take it across state lines. Of course we are insisting there ought to be the proper labeling of meat so people know what country it's from and could take a little pride in using the United States beef. On the issue of NAFTA itself, we are doing everything we can to make sure that the law is enforced on it. There is talk about some Argentine beef both in Canada and in Mexico that are trying to get into the country and both those would be violations of NAFTA if they make it in. What we want to have of course is fair trade and when governments get involved in subsidizing their product or giving special breaks so that their product can get into another country for less it is no longer free trade. In that respect, NAFTA has failed.
PT -- How did that happen with Canada? How did Canada manage to get around the same kind of laws that we have to abide by?
MBE -- When we set up NAFTA the packing plant requirements for them were set up so that they just had to file an acceptable plan. They didn't actually have to have the inspectors there 24 hours a day. Then they could ship beef into the United States. Of course the beef that's shipped into the United States cannot be fully inspected when it comes across the border. There is only one checkpoint coming into the United States that has the capability to offload the beef to look at it. If you can't offload the beef you can only look at the carcasses that are at the back of the trailer. Not that the people would ever take advantage of that, of course. They don't have the capability to offload. They don't offload in most cases because it is a considerable extra step that makes it difficult. What we are trying to do is make sure there is an element of fairness there and if there were a packing plant in Wyoming, they shouldn't have to meet a higher standard of shipping across state borders than Canadian folks have for shipping across an international border.
PT -- To follow up on that a little bit, is there any hard data on just what impact this particular situation is having on Wyoming ranchers?
MBE -- No, there isn't any hard data on it. One of the things that complicates hard data is that for instance some of the Montana ranchers are sending beef to Canada for finishing and that utilizes some of the low priced grain that's up there. Then they come back into the United States. Now is that American beef or is it Canadian beef? It's still more beef on the market but some of it came from the United States to begin with. That makes the calculation of the numbers much more difficult. I really, even though we've asked for some numbers, haven't seen the good hard numbers on what the production is. That's another category of information that we are working hard on, getting good numbers. There are numbers concealed in the sales of cattle as well. Those cattle that are owned by the packers are not fully disclosed. We had a provision in one of the bills that would allow for a pilot project for the disclosure of those prices so we could see what kind of an effect they are having on the market. We think the market is depressed by beef that are owned by the (big three) packers.
Dave Simpson (DS) -- This is David Simpson at the Jackson Hole Guide in Jackson, Wyoming.
DS -- My question is regarding Yellowstone Park. There was another sewer system spill at Old Faithful in Yellowstone two weeks ago you may have heard about. Managers there in the Park said that funding as you are aware from last year addressed the sewer plant but not the entire sewer system in the Old Faithful area. One thing they said was about some more funding. Their budget is not enough to address this problem. I was curious do you see more funding coming through for something like that in a specific park and if not how that problem should be addressed?
MBE -- (It seems that) we always respond with additional money and usually so that we really feel good we come through with more money than even what's been requested for a project. That's not how budgets ought to work. I have asked for capital budgets from virtually everybody. That is something that anticipates problems like the sewer treatment plant. I don't get those very much. I really don't think there is a federal system of saying, "These are the facilities that we have out there. This is the expected life of them. This is when we are going to have to replace them. And, this is how we budget for it." That's just good basic accounting and it's not being done in the federal government. Instead we manage by crisis. We wait until something happens and say, "We need this money. We really don't have time to study how much so it is going to be a little bit more than that probably." That gets them more money than what they would have gotten through a normal budgeting process. We encourage government by crisis. It's not a good idea. We've got to change that. If any private business had done what happened in Yellowstone Park they wouldn't be given the option of how long they would have to budget for fixing the problem. It would have to be done immediately or fines and penalties would escalate dramatically. The federal government ought to live by the same rules that they expect the private sector to live by.
DS -- One thing that kind of comes out of that a little bit just in the funding situation and one thing I've sort of been interested in covering is private foundations and park specific fees for the recreation. Fee demonstration programs are becoming more important to national parks and federal lands in general as visitor numbers increase and more services become necessary. I was curious in general what you see as sort of the benefits or any potential pitfalls of that trend?
MBE -- Of course, any time anybody gets more money they get addicted to more money. It becomes the necessary part of their budgeting and planning. I think that the fees are a good idea. We do need to have ways to get money into the park systems to adequately provide for them. Along with that goes an obligation for those governments that we are helping to provide us with the necessary justifications and tools and advance notice of their needs. I would like to see that by all government agencies. I'm not picking on the parks. I'm picking on all government agencies. I want to see their Government Performance and Results Act (information). That's where they tell us what they are going to do and how we can tell when they've got it done. I want it to be done on a capital budgeting basis as well. That's where their major expenditures are made. Ones that last more than one year but also wear out. I'd like to see some direction in their strategic plan that relates to their budget particularly their capital budgeting. I think that if federal government agencies have to do the same kind of strategic planning and the same kind of budgeting that private businesses have to do, then we can find the money that's needed at the time that it's needed. But we get forced into so many of these crisis mode budgeting things. When there really isn't the full time to contemplate how to raise the money and how to provide the money. That's really the job of management. That's an executive branch job. That's something those agencies ought to be providing to us. We are the legislators and the appropriators.
PT -- I want to talk with you a little bit about the airline legislation that came through Friday. The amendment House Resolution 4257 and your release talked about how this will help rural communities maintain or improve air service by encouraging small air carrier competition. I'm wondering if you have any handle on how it might affect a community like Sheridan where we only have at best one service and sometimes that's iffy? It looks like we are going to lose our carrier again. We barely have one carrier here and they are a small one to begin with. How would this legislation affect a town like Sheridan if it would at all?
MBE -- Provided we are able to get it through the whole process I think it can make a difference. As for what it does, at the present time the major airlines control all of the connecting traffic because nobody wants to check their bags and then have to pick them up again and recheck them at a connecting airport. They really do expect when they get on an airplane that they check their bags and they pick them up at the far end of the transportation cycle. Right now unless you are the designated connecting carrier, that's not available to you. Connecting tickets aren't necessarily available. There are a lot of (amenities) that we're used to as a part of the (streamline) transportation service. What the amendment does is, provides that if another carrier comes in, that those same amenities have to be available to them as well. Of course making sure that (the amendment) stays on through the conference committee and gets signed into law in the bill is no small task. The Senators have recognized it. We are working on the House folks now to get them to recognize the potential for this. Of course that is part of a major bill for funding airports. The bill itself is very important and is recognized so the bill will make it through the process and we just have to make sure that the amendment does as well.
DS -- I have a quick question on the Land and Water Conservation Fund kind of related to something that involves obviously Wyoming and Montana and Yellowstone again. It's a story I saw last week discussing that Fund and how some of the money was going to be used for several land purchases. I also quoted Montana's Congressional delegation several of them. They were saying they felt like there might be too many unanswered questions to fund purchase of the Church Universal and Triumphant property just north of Yellowstone in Paradise Valley. The story implied there was plenty of money still available in that Fund but that there were questions about how that land would be used. I was curious, isn't that what that fund was intended for and what's your position on using money for that purpose?
MBE -- I think that is what that fund's intended for. I think what we have so far is an authorization to do it but not an appropriation to do it. The difference is that you can get a project on a list that gets it authorized. That means it is there to be considered but it still takes another process which is the appropriation itself to get the money. One of the difficulties that we run into when we do appropriations is finding an offset in the budget, the actual money within a balanced budget to be able to provide for it. With the Land and Water Conservation Funds and everything else we're trying to do, the problem is coming up with the offsetting funds to be able to do it. I think that is a priority. I know it is a priority. Hopefully we can come up with the money to do that.
DS -- A follow up here real quick I don't understand what you are saying about offset funds. How exactly does that work?
MBE -- We have a balanced budget which is recognition by everybody of how many total dollars that there are to spend. If you put in a provision for some new spending the actual spending part of it you have to say where out of that balanced budget money, out of the revenues, that's going to come. We're at a point where we are almost oversubscribed on the revenues that are coming in. It gets more difficult as we get down to this last part of the process to find additional money even if it is " just a few million" and we usually talk about billions back here, the few million to offset the dollars that are going to go in there. In other words, what chunk of the money, if the money is already spent, what are we going to eliminate to put it over there and have the money to buy that land?
DS -- So in many cases money like that has already been appropriated for other uses?
MBE -- Yes. One thing I've noticed back here is we have a lot more uses for the money than we have money but that's the same as in a family.