A message from Senator Enzi
I hope you enjoy this, the final newsletter of 2007. It’s been exciting to be a participant in the news you read on this page. We’re on the home stretch now, finishing up appropriations bills and last minute legislation. I’m not particularly pleased with the process or how the majority leadership of the Senate has put many bills together, but Diana and I will be pleased to be home in Wyoming with our family and friends. We treasure our Christmas traditions and look forward to passing them along to our grandchildren as well as sharing all that is joyful about this time of year. Diana and I wish you and your family the very best as we celebrate Christmas and the beginning of a new year.
In this newsletter, my staff and I have summarized just a few of the issues I’ve been working on in the U.S. Senate over the past few weeks, including abandoned mine land money (AML) for Wyoming, the Farm Bill, gun owner rights and more. Thank you for subscribing to my newsletter. There is more information on my web page. We look forward to hearing from you if you have any questions or comments.
Abandoned Mine Land Money for Wyoming
The Office of Surface Mining (OSM) decided how it would release back payments to states’ Abandoned Mine Land (AML) funds, though the payment drew myriad criticism from the Wyoming and Montana delegations. Language from the OSM states that back payments and future payments will be released through a "simplified grant process." Though Wyoming receives more money under the proposed AML payment program than ever before, Enzi introduced legislation that would guarantee a funding plan that would provide states AML funds with no strings attached. Enzi said of the OSM’s plan, "The OSM somehow believes that the word ‘payment’ in the original legislation means ‘grant’ ... The bureaucrats are planning on making Wyoming jump through more hoops than was intended by Congress. This is unacceptable and we are working to change it."
After four weeks of debate, the Senate passed the 2007 Farm Bill. Enzi, who voted for the bill, said, "This legislation promotes competitive markets and seeks to reform farm support programs." The bill’s language implements country of origin labeling (COOL), helps producers ship meat across state borders and sets up a disaster planning fund. The interstate meat shipment language included in the bill would ensure that meat tested with the strictest federal standards could be sold across state lines. Enzi introduced a similar stand-alone bill earlier this year – S. 1150 – that would open markets and expand economic opportunities for producers. Enzi is working to decrease spending levels in the bill for the upcoming conference committee between the Senate and House where the two bodies will meet to reconcile the two versions of the bill.
Omnibus Appropriations Bill
The Senate passed the omnibus appropriations bill. The bill consists of 11 appropriations bills piled into one omnibus with a price tag of about half a trillion dollars. Enzi disagreed with the bill because of the extraneous expense and because projects were slipped in during the conference committee process, leaving senators to essentially take it or leave it with their vote and unable to have a full debate. Enzi voted to leave it. Enzi, the only accountant in the Senate, believes appropriations bills and all the projects included in them should go through the normal appropriations process that allows debate throughout the entire process.
On the Horizon
When the Senate reconvenes in 2008 there is a lot of work to be done. The Farm Bill conference report needs to be finished as well as important education measures. With an election year ahead the Senate is bound to become even more contentious than it was this year but Senator Enzi will continue working for compromise using his 80/20 rule. Most people agree on 80 percent of the issues, the other 20 percent they’ll never agree on. If people focus on the 80 percent they agree on they can accomplish many things.
Senator Enzi is planning his annual Procurement Conference as well as an Inventor’s conference. More information on these conferences will be coming in future 2008 newsletters.
Head Start Bill Signing
* Senator Enzi stood front and center at a White House bill signing ceremony as President Bush signed the Head Start legislation into law. The bill will help ensure that low-income children are prepared - not only for success in school - but also for success later in life. Following the signing President Bush said "Keep getting it done," to Enzi in relation to his work on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
Air Force Anniversary
* A resolution Enzi and Senator Ben Nelson, D-Neb., introduced, as co-chairmen of the Senate Air Force Caucus, to commemorate the Air Force on their 60th Anniversary, passed the Senate unanimously late last night. The resolution also recognizes the contributions of active duty Air Force, Air Force Reserve, Air National Guard and civilian personnel to our country’s conflicts from the First World War to ongoing operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Fair Treatment for Pilots
* Enzi co-sponsored the Fair Treatment for Experienced Pilots Act, to allow pilots to fly until age 65. With the help of this bill, pilots will no longer be forced out of the skies due to a lower retirement age. The bill passed the Senate unanimously. Enzi has co-sponsored the bill in past years.
Traumatic Brain Injury
* Enzi, Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee voted in favor of legislation that will help treat Americans living with traumatic brain injuries. The Traumatic Brain Injury Act, S. 793, will work with the Center for Disease Control to help the nearly 1.5 million people who suffer such injuries every year.
*Enzi signed a letter to Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne requesting that bans currently prohibiting possession of firearms on certain federal grounds be lifted and placed under state gun laws. This would allow gun owners to possess firearms on lands regulated by the National Park Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service. Enzi is a staunch supporter of the Second Amendment.