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Diana and I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday Season as we head into the next year. I hope that all can be at home with family and friends. As we celebrate these special times, we will be keeping our troops overseas and their loved ones in our prayers. It is because of them that we are able to enjoy the holidays and our American way of life. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Filibuster guarantees all senators heard

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is considering changing Senate rules in order to make it harder for minority senators to contribute to legislation.

The frustration the majority in the Senate feels at having a hard time getting its agenda passed, however, is probably less than the frustration that the minority feels in being prevented from having any of its members’ ideas considered in committees or on the Senate floor. The Senate was designed so that a majority couldn’t run roughshod over a minority. It was designed to ensure that each senator could represent the views of his or her constituents. The filibuster is one of the tools we use. That isn’t convenient for the powers that be, but without such a check on power bad things happen.

When the Senate is operating as intended with members working together in committees to iron out legislation and then offering amendments on the Senate floor, it’s a thing of beauty, like a work of fine art. But some in the majority want to take a chainsaw to it.

Some, (I hope not most) in the majority want to weaken this check on power and change the rules. They want to go against what this institution stands for in order to stifle some ideas and votes. I hope they would realize that if they make some senators weaker, they weaken the institution itself. Even if they believe a change to the filibuster is the right thing to do, I hope that my colleagues will see that doing it unilaterally is the wrong way to do it. If you want to change the filibuster rules, then at least follow the rules that have been used by those before us. Don't break the rules to change the rules.

National Defense Authorization Act prevents indefinite detention, protects ICBM programs

Early this month the Senate voted for the final passage of the National Defense Authorization Act, which provides necessary funding authorizations for the Department of Defense, according to Senator Mike Enzi, who voted for it. More than 100 amendments were worked through on the Senate floor, and this bipartisan vote was possible because the bill went through the proper committee and floor amendment processes, said Enzi. The final vote was 98-0.

Senator John Barrasso and Enzi offered an amendment to the bill, which passed, that urges the Administration to keep our Intercontinental Ballistic Missile force mission-ready. According to Senator Enzi, the amendment specifically calls on the Department of Defense to maintain its ICBM force and to preserve silos as a reserve force, a deterrent.

Enzi also voted for an amendment sponsored by Senators Dianne Feinstein and Rand Paul that would prevent American citizens from ever being permanently detained without being charged or brought to trial.

“The Bill of Rights is very clear on the rights we all have, especially our judicial process. Some folks in Wyoming have expressed concerns that the NDAA would allow American citizens to be held without charge or trial,” said Enzi. “The Senate passed an amendment to the NDAA to clarify this issue and I voted for it. The amendment makes clear that no citizen of the United States can be permanently detained by use of military force, declaration of war, or any similar authority.”

Russia trade bill opens markets for Wyo products

Soda ash, oil field equipment and beef are just a few of the Wyoming products that will be able to fairly compete in Russian markets, said Senator Mike Enzi.

Enzi voted in favor of the Russia Permanent Normal Trade Relations bill earlier this month, which allows both the U.S. and Russia to receive the benefits of Russia’s World Trade Organization (WTO) accession. The president signed it into law December 14.

The legislation gives America the opportunity to challenge unfair trade practices in the WTO if Russia does not honor its commitments, according to Enzi.

USDA school lunch programs meager

School systems attempting to comply with USDA school meal programs have been met with a lack of flexibility on behalf of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, according to Senator Mike Enzi.

Enzi said student athletes, students of families with lower incomes and smaller school districts are especially feeling the effect of this top-down federal approach.

Enzi joined Senator John Barrasso and others in asking the USDA for flexible standards. Click here to read the letter to USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack.

EPA rejects pleas for fuel mandate waivers

Senator Enzi was disappointed to learn that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) denied requests for waivers from certain provisions in the Renewable Fuel Standards, including an August letter Enzi sent to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.

According to Enzi, drought conditions have caused a spike in corn prices and the requirements for blending ethanol are driving prices even higher. A waiver would help lower gas and food prices.

Health care decisions need more time

Senator Enzi joined some of his colleagues in asking for an extension of the 30-day comment period to allow for appropriate review of three recently proposed rules involving health insurance exchanges.

The letter was sent to U.S. Dept. of Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and U.S. Dept. of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis.

“These new rules involve hundreds and hundreds of pages and will cost the public hundreds of millions of dollars,” said Enzi. “The least they could do is give people some more time to wade through them.”

Connect on Facebook and Twitter

If you haven't already become a "fan" of Senator Enzi's Facebook page, check it out. You can also follow him on Twitter @Senator Enzi or click here.

Both are a great way to see what's going on in Congress.