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A message from Senator Enzi

Election season is in full swing. For the past few weeks candidates have been hitting the campaign trail and telling you about themselves and their beliefs. I have been traveling Wyoming and meeting with many of you and speaking with you about issues important to Wyoming and this country. I urge you to talk to your neighbors, friends and family about the elections and the issues you feel are important. If you are confused or unsure about something you read or heard in the news or advertisements go straight to the source and ask the candidates, check their website, e-mail them, call their campaign. Be an active participant in our political system.

My staff and I have summarized a few of the issues I’ve been working on since last month’s newsletter as well as some accomplishments this Congress. Thank you for subscribing to this newsletter and do not hesitate to contact my office with any questions or concerns you have.

Headlines and Highlights

Track your tax dollars with one-stop cyber shop

President Bush signed a bill into law recently that is designed to allow taxpayers to track the spending of their federal tax dollars online. Enzi said the bill will provide a one-stop cyber shop for taxpayers. It adds transparency to federal spending. Transparency leads to accountability and accountability leads to savings, according to Enzi, an accountant and member of both the Senate Budget and Banking Committees.

The bill will require the Office of Management and Budget to maintain and establish a website that lists all entities receiving federal funds in amounts over $25,000 with exceptions for classified information and federal assistance payments made to individuals. The information would include the name of each receiving recipient, the amount of federal funds received annually by the program and the location of the recipient.

Soda ash relief signed by President

On Oct. 12 President Bush signed into law a bill that will reduce the royalty on soda ash from 6 to 2 percent in order to make the industry more competitive in the global market. The passage of this legislation is a tremendous victory for Wyoming ’s soda ash producers and the state as a whole. With expanded production overseas, and particularly in China, Wyoming ’s producers need this equalizer as our trade representatives work to ensure fair trade exists, according to Enzi, who worked with Senator Craig Thomas and Representative Barbara Cubin to pass the measure.

Key Vote Summary

Work wrap up

Before senators returned to their home states before the elections the Senate passed several important bills to authorize and appropriate funds for the Department of Defense to continue work at home and overseas for the next year. The Department of Homeland Security was appropriated funds to continue securing the homeland and the Senate also passed a bill to provide a framework to detain, question and prosecute terrorists. The Homeland Security bill also includes funding for 1,500 new Border Patrol agents and about $1.2 billion for fencing infrastructure and technology along the borders, and another $1.8 billion in emergency appropriations for border security.

Expanding the cap to fill the employment gap

Many Wyoming businesses, especially in the service sector, have been in emergency situations for the last two years due to a crippling lack of workers. Before adjourning for the month of October, Congress sent a bill to the President that will assist Wyoming businesses in hiring workers to help during busy tourist seasons.

The Senate passed the conference report for the Department of Defense Authorization, which included language that extends the annual cap exemption for returning H-2B Visa holders for one more year. Enzi supported the bill and was pleased to see the cap exemption language included that helps businesses struggling to fill employment.

The language exempts a certain number of returning workers from counting against the cap. Enzi will continue educating colleagues on the unique circumstances Wyoming businesses face when local workers cannot fill the jobs.

The H-2B Visa program allows businesses to hire workers from outside the country for a limited length of time once the businesses prove that no local workers are available to fill the job. The employee is required to return to their home country upon completion of the job.

On the Horizon

The House and Senate plan to reconvene following the November elections. Senator Enzi plans to be in Wyoming until that time. When session reconvenes the House and Senate plan to conclude any outstanding bills before the 2007 members are sworn in. 



News Nuggets

*Enzi applauded the President's signing of the Older Americans Act. The bill was approved in Enzi's Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and will reauthorize programs that will enrich the lives and well being of older Americans through a range of social service programs, including home-delivered nutrition, community service employment, long-term care coordination and elder abuse and neglect prevention.

*Enzi signed onto an Oct. 6 letter to the League of Arab States urging the League to use all diplomatic means to advise the Sudanese president to halt military actions in the Darfur region of Africa. The letter requested the League of Arab States to work towards the removal of Sudanese troops from the area and facilitate the deployment of United Nations peacekeepers to the region.

  * Enzi signed onto a bill, S. 1035, the code Talkers Recognition Act that passed the Senate on Sept. 20. The bill would recognize all Native Americans that served our country during World War I and II as code talkers. The bill would instruct the presentation of commemorative medals on behalf of Congress to Native American code talkers.

*Enzi cosponsored S. 3623, a bill to promote coal-to-liquid fuels. The bill would help the Department of Energy facilitate construction of coal-to-liquid plants, provide tax incentives for investment and production as well as authorizing the Secretary of Energy to fill up to 20 percent of the petroleum products in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve with fuel from coal-to-liquids technology.

109th Congress Accomplishments

* President Bush signed 25 laws sponsored or co-sponsored by Senator Enzi including: the Pension Protection Act, Deficit Reduction Act, Patient Safety Bill, Stem Cell Therapeutic and Research Act, Prescription Electronic Reporting Act, Small Business Drought Relief Act, Border Security, and the Reaffirmation of State Regulation of Resident and Nonresident Hunting and Fishing Act.

* Senator Enzi and his office responded to more than 74,700 constituent inquiries from January 2005 through today.

* Enzi’s office closed more than 1,250 individual constituent requests for assistance with the federal government during the 109th Congress.