Weekly Column: Working for Idahoans

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An important part of the great honor of representing Idahoans in the United States Senate is keeping people informed of the progress of legislation in Congress. Here are some highlights of the legislative and policy changes we made significant progress on in 2021.

Helped Idaho growers compete globally

  • As a ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, I worked with Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) to negotiate a strong trade package, the Commerce Act 2021, to fight China’s unfair trade practices, strengthen our relationships with our allies and support the negotiation of digital trade agreements. The Trade Act will strengthen America’s competitive position and help hard-working Idaho producers compete globally.

I successfully used the Senate filibuster to convince Senate leaders to vote on including the Commerce Act in the US Competition and Innovation Act (USICA). The Senate overwhelmingly passed the Commerce Act as an amendment to USICA by a vote of 91-4. I continue to push for its enactment.

  • We have also made significant progress in convincing Mexico to lift its restrictions on the import of fresh potatoes to a limited border area. In April, Mexico’s Supreme Court paved the way for the Mexican federal government to enact import regulations. I continue to work so that Idaho farmers will once again be able to sell high quality potatoes throughout Mexico.

  • The United States also won over Canada in the first-ever dispute settlement case brought under the United States-Mexico-Canada Trade Agreement (USMCA). The panel concluded that Canada breached the agreement because it did not sufficiently open its dairy market to US imports. This historic victory is an important step in the elimination of unjustified trade restrictions on American dairy products.

Stop job-killing tax hikes

  • As the top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, I introduced legislation to protect Idahoans from abuse by law enforcement and took every opportunity to shed light on job-killing tax hikes and overspending in the Democrats’ reckless tax and spending bill.

This includes leading opposition to harmful tax increases on businesses and individuals, especially small businesses and families, and preventing a proposal to allow the Internal Revenue Service to collect private financial information about individuals’ bank accounts. I will continue to work to stop this terribly misguided bill from moving forward.

  • Additionally, the American Rescue Plan Act included a provision that would have prevented states from using relief funds to reduce state taxes. I led a Senate effort to ensure states could make their own economic and fiscal decisions without unnecessary federal interference.

Supported our military and our allies

  • The National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2022 was signed into law in December and contains a number of provisions to help Idaho women and men in uniform carry out their missions with strength and efficiency. This includes a 2.7% salary increase for the military and funds authorized for Idaho projects.
  • Amid the random withdrawal of Afghanistan and the unknown and dangerous future for Americans and Afghan allies who remained in the country, I worked to secure evacuations from Afghanistan and pressed for continued monitoring of the repercussions of this hasty withdrawal.

Idaho Supported Communities

  • In November, a three-year reauthorization of the Safe Rural Schools Program (SRS), until fiscal year 2023, has been enacted. I have long championed these payments which are essential to maintain education programs for many rural counties that contain federal property tax-exempt lands.
  • At the urging of the Idaho congressional delegation, the United States Small Business Administration approved the Idaho Hispanic Foundation (IHF) for a Community Navigator Pilot Program Grant this will allow IHF, together with the Idaho Women’s Business Center, to support entrepreneurial activities in traditionally underserved areas of Idaho. Many more projects like this are creating more career opportunities in our state and keeping families together in our communities.

This is just a snapshot of ongoing efforts on behalf of Idahoans in the 117and Congress. I have introduced and advocated for many other pieces of federal legislation and policy covering a variety of topics, including stopping federal government takeovers; ensure that Idahoans have access to an effective justice system; lower prescription drug prices; protect Second Amendment rights; providing quality services and support to veterans; expansion and extension of the RECA program; improve opportunities to save for retirement; support our nuclear energy infrastructure; stimulate energy innovation; and much more. I continue to work on these efforts and many more on behalf of the people of our great state as the second half of the 117th Congress begins.

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