As the 117th Congress (2021-2022) draws to a close, it is a good time to update Idahoans on some of the legislative and policy changes we made progress on over the past two years. The following are some highlights:
Supported Idaho veterans
I have long worked to ensure federal policies respect veterans’ service and I led or joined many efforts in support of Idaho veterans, including:
• Reintroduction of the Bring Our Heroes Home Act, cosponsorship of the reintroduced Helping Unleash Benefits and Services (HUBS) for Veterans Act and the reintroduction of the Major Richard Star Act, which would ensure medically retired and combat-injured veterans receive both military retired pay and disability compensation earned through their service to our country.
• Legislation to improve the identification and treatment of illnesses related to veterans’ exposure to toxic substances while on their tours of duty passed the Senate.
Backed Idaho communities
• A three-year reauthorization of the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) was signed into law, and we enacted legislation I authored to preserve rural counties’ SRS payment allocations.
• As work continues to expand Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Amendments (RECA) eligibility to those in Idaho and other states who have suffered from cancers related to fallout from nuclear weapons testing during the Cold War period of the 1950s and 1960s, we successfully ushered into law a two-year extension of the RECA program.
• We also enacted legislation to make progress in ensuring every dollar collected for crime victims is used to help them.
Advanced Idaho’s voice on Senate Finance Committee
I became ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee at the beginning of the 117th Congress, giving Idaho a strong voice in legislation relating to tax policy, social safety net and healthcare programs, and foreign trade agreements.
• I worked with colleagues on legislation to hold Russia accountable for its invasion of Ukraine;
• legislation to promote free and fair trade, particularly against China;
• legislation to strengthen and expand retirement savings;
• and proposals to strengthen mental health care in the United States.
Protected taxpayers and pressed for border security
Sometimes, progress is not only advancing legislation, but also stopping detrimental policy.
• I worked to protect taxpayers from many of the Biden Administration’s inflationary tax-and-spend proposals and prevented aggressive overreach from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).
• I cosponsored legislation to block President Biden’s plans to spend upwards of $1 billion to provide $450,000 per person in taxpayer money for settlements to illegal immigrants.
• I cosponsored the Solving the Border Crisis Act introduced by fellow U.S. Senator for Idaho Jim Risch to secure the border and stop this disaster from getting worse.
Protecting Idahoans’ Second Amendment rights remains a priority. I worked to protect the rights of responsible firearm owners and manufacturers from burdensome regulations proposed by Democrats, and from discrimination by financial service providers.
Advanced sensible conservation of our natural resources
As a member of the Senate Western Caucus, I helped unveil the “Blueprint for Conservation,” a holistic conservation proposal that seeks to protect the environment and enhance Idahoans’ quality of life without harming the economy.
Thank you, Idahoans, for your valued input on these and other efforts in the 117th Congress. This is just a snapshot of the many efforts underway on behalf of Idahoans that also includes: supporting our nuclear energy infrastructure; boosting energy innovation; stopping federal government power grabs; lowering prescription drug prices; and much more. With your help and guidance, I will continue to push back against the overreach of the federal government, and work to tackle our growing federal debt while ensuring the long-term viability of programs for veterans and seniors.