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A message from Senator Enzi

Hello. I hope the Wyoming summer is treating you well. While motorcycle enthusiasts, tourists, and families on vacation were in full swing in Wyoming this summer Congress was also very busy wrapping up before a month long home state work period. My staff and I put together information about happenings over the past month and what is to come for the great state of Wyoming. I encourage you to contact me if you have any questions. Thank you.Headlines and Highlights

President Signs Pensions Protection Law to Secure Retirements of 45 Million Americans

The Senate and House delivered a key victory for working American families as the two Houses approved a pension reform bill that will significantly strengthen pension funding rules, help curb record pension failures and better protect the retirement dreams of 45 million Americans. On August 17, 2006 Enzi, Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, joined President George W. Bush at the White House for a signing of the bill.

Enzi chaired the pension conference committee that consisted of select members from both the House and the Senate. In four months Enzi led the group to agree on language that provided safeguards and reforms to protect working Americans who spend a lifetime earning their pensions.

Enzi said the bill achieves his three fundamental principles for pension reform by: getting more money into pension plans so that the money workers have earned is there when they retire; ensuring that new pension funding rules governing plans are not so strict that they cause more bankruptcies and pension plan terminations; and securing the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation, the insurer of last resort for the defined benefit system, without picking the pockets of taxpayers to keep the agency solvent.

Key Vote Summary

Abandoned Mine Land Funds* Enzi is hopeful that Wyoming will still recover more than $550 million in coal tax money the federal government has "hijacked" for nearly 30 years. The U.S. Senate voted 56-42 to defeat language that would have freed the money that is currently stuck in a federal trust fund. The bill required 60 votes to pass. Enzi continues to work on regaining the abandoned mine land money using four key principles: the return of the $550 million owed to Wyoming "with no strings attached"; the guarantee of full future monies; a reduction on the tax charged to Wyoming’s coal companies; and, a guarantee that more money be directed toward reclamation in the states where reclamation is needed. Enzi is hopeful this latest discussion and action will help with future efforts to restore coal tax money to the states.

Energy Exploration

* The Senate voted in support of opening an area for energy development that would help reduce America’s dependence on foreign sources of energy and decrease gas prices by increasing U.S. energy supplies. The Senate passed the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act, S. 3711, by a vote of 71-25. Enzi voted in favor of the bill that would allow for the opening of leases of approximately 8.3 million acres of Lease Area 181 in the Outer Continental Shelf of the Gulf of Mexico for oil and gas leasing.

On the Horizon

The Senate is expected to reconvene the legislative session on September 5 to resume consideration of the Defense Appropriations bill.



News Nuggets

* During the month of August Enzi was scheduled to attend charity events, speak to civic groups, kick off Community Health Center Week, present a Purple Heart at an award ceremony and hold public meetings around Wyoming.

* The Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, which Enzi chairs, passed the "Prematurity Research Expansion and Education for Mothers who deliver Early (PREEMIE) Act," S. 707. The bill passed on June 28 and is designed to expand research into causes of and prevention of premature births and to increase education and support services related to prematurity. The bill now awaits consideration by the full Senate.

* On August 4, 2006, Senator Enzi joined Senator Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., and others on a letter to the President of Korea asking that he make the resumption of beef trade with the U.S. a personal priority in order to prevent the beef embargo from endangering the U.S. - Korea Free Trade Agreement.

* A bill to create a national strategy to conduct research into the possible links between breast cancer and the environment passed the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on June 28. The "Breast Cancer and Environment Research Act," S. 757 now awaits consideration by the full Senate and would establish a grant program to fund collaborative centers to expand and coordinate research to encourage the development of innovative approaches for under explored areas of breast cancer related to the environment.

* The "Combating Autism Act" S. 843 passed the full Senate on August 4 after being ushered through Enzi’s Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. The bill is an important step toward improving the lives of persons with autism and families affected by autism. The bill would expand research and coordination at the National Institutes of Health with regard to the possible causes and potential treatments of autism, increase autism awareness through Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, and integrate health, education and disability programs for persons diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder.