Idaho Examiner - Sen. Larry Craig News Releases

Friday, May 27, 2005

FOOTHILLS CONSERVATION MEASURE INTRODUCED

Craig, Otter introduce bill to exchange public lands in Idaho

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Idaho Senator Larry Craig and Rep. C.L. “Butch” Otter introduced legislation today involving key parcels of land from the Boise Foothills to North Idaho.

The legislation represents another step in the conservation of the Boise Foothills, a decades-long crusade for many residents. In May of 2001 the residents of Boise voted to tax themselves to provide funding to secure permanent public open space in the Boise Foothills. A critical component of the effort is a series of land exchanges to transfer State of Idaho land in the Foothills for federal land elsewhere in Idaho – a move that requires federal legislation.

Craig emphasized the benefits of the exchange, “This proposal gives Idahoans a unique chance to preserve the character of our communities and, as a result, provide for the education of our children. It truly is a win-win situation.”

“This is an agreement where everybody wins. The state of Idaho gets more timberland; the schools get more timber revenue; the people of the Boise area get more open space; and the state and federal agencies involved get a higher level of management efficiency,” Congressman Otter said. “Senator Craig, the Idaho Department of Lands, the BLM, the U.S. Forest Service, the City of Boise, and everyone else involved deserve all the credit in the world for the benefits that everyone in Idaho will realize from this plan. I'm proud to be associated with it.”

Craig serves as chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests, which has jurisdiction over this legislation. Otter serves on the Energy and Commerce Committee.

More information on the legislation is available on Senator Craig's website and www.idaholandexchange.net.

BIPARTISAN ENERGY BILL APPROVED BY COMMITTEE

Legislation receives strong bipartisan support

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Idaho Senator Larry Craig praised today’s approval of the Energy Bill by a strong bipartisan majority of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

“I am very pleased with the positives this bill contains for Idaho and the nation,” Craig said. “We are one step closer to getting American consumers the much-needed relief from high energy prices. This bill will help get the United States back in the business of producing energy, while diversifying our energy supply and encouraging conservation and research and development in new areas of promise. I look forward to helping move this through the Senate and to the President’s desk.”

Senator Craig along with Senators Gordon Smith (R-OR), Diane Feinstein (D-CA), and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) successfully inserted language into the bill which will: (1) require more federal resource agency accountability in the hydropower licensing process, and (2) streamline the complex and lengthy relicensing process for hydropower facilities, a major source of electricity generation in Idaho and the Pacific Northwest. In addition, the bill authorizes a Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP) – a nuclear power reactor to be built at the Idaho National Laboratory, to serve as a national test bed for advanced reactor technologies and provide co-generation of hydrogen by nuclear energy.

The bill, which cleared the Committee by a vote of 21-1, also contains unprecedented conservation and efficiency measures, reduces peak electric demand by 2020 by 50,000 MW, and reduces U.S. oil consumption by 1 million barrels of oil per day by 2015. Furthermore, the legislation modernizes and expands the nation’s electricity grid, and encourages the deployment of clean coal technologies and hydrogen technologies aimed at moving America away from its dependence on foreign oil.

The bill now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

Memorial Day 2005: Honoring those who made the ultimate sacrifice

by Senator Larry Craig (R-Idaho) and Congressman Steve Buyer (R-Ind.)

In a tradition that began just three short years after the end of our Civil War, Americans set aside the 30th day of May each year to remember the sacrifice made by our service men and women who died while defending the precious gift of liberty.

This weekend, Americans will gather to honor those who gave their full measure in defense of our freedoms. This is the true meaning of Memorial Day, a day to remember more than a million men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for this great nation and the liberties we hold dear.

On the battlefield of Gettysburg, in the midst of our nation’s civil war, Abraham Lincoln called on Americans to ensure that liberty would not perish from the earth. Each Memorial Day, we recall, with reverence and honor, those fallen patriots who sustained the cause of liberty so eloquently enshrined in Lincoln’s words.

We Americans owe a deep debt of gratitude to the men and women who have defended our nation down through a dozen generations. On Memorial Day, we remember those souls – fathers, sons, mothers, daughters – who came from across our country and from all walks of life to selflessly offer their service.

Their silent and honored ranks are now joined by heroes from a new generation who answered the nation’s call in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, and made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure others the fundamental rights of liberty. Even as their sacrifice preserved our freedoms at home, it has brought forth a flowering of democracy abroad, still fragile and wondrous in its unfolding.

This month also marks the 60th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day. More than 4 million Americans served in our armed forces in the cauldron of Europe. Nearly 200,000 of them made the ultimate sacrifice there serving the cause of freedom. We honor the service and sacrifices made by them. Their legacy -- and the legacy of their generation -- is a freer world of opportunity and equality, which we inherit with gratitude and serve with humility.

We can on this day honor our dead and express our deep gratitude during the National Moment of Remembrance. At 3:00 p.m. local time, stop what you are doing and pause for a minute of reflection. If you are driving, turn on your headlights.

The freedom we hold dear as Americans is a longstanding heritage secured by the sacrifice of those who won that freedom but can no longer savor it. While we mourn our war dead, we rejoice that such patriots lived. We can pay tribute to their service and lives by the vigilant protection of our liberty.

Theirs is the ultimate sacrifice and in honoring their lives, we remember what is best in our nation. We today honor those who lost their life in service to preserve our liberties.

Senator Larry Craig (R-Idaho) is Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.


Congressman Steve Buyer (R-Indiana) is Chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Veterans’ Affairs.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

NUCLEAR AND HYDRO MEASURES ADDED TO ENERGY BILL

Craig secures language for nuclear power plant and hydroelectric licensing

WASHINGTON D.C. – Idaho Senator Larry Craig was successful today inserting two key provisions into the Energy Bill. One authorizes the construction of a next-generation nuclear power plant (NGNP) at the Idaho National Laboratory and the other reforms the nation’s hydroelectric relicensing laws. Both measures are long-time initiatives for Senator Craig and were approved without dissent.

Craig praised the work of his colleagues, “I am pleased with the efforts of the Chairman, the Ranking Member, and my other colleagues to ensure both of these measures are included in our energy bill. The overwhelming support is vital to ensure enactment.”

The nuclear power language authorizes $1.25 billion for research and development and construction of the reactor, which mirrors House language. During the hearing, Craig stated, “Nuclear power must be an ever-increasing component of our energy production. This not only helps us reach that goal but sends a clear message to the world that the United States and the Idaho National Laboratory will lead in NGNP.”

The reactor will also produce hydrogen, a necessity should the U.S. migrate to hydrogen fuel-cell based automobiles. Just today, President Bush promoted a hydrogen economy during a visit to a Shell/GM hydrogen filling station in D.C.

The hydroelectric relicensing provision is the result of seven years of work by Senator Craig. The language affects all 1,600 federally-licensed hydropower projects. It allows the licensee or any other party to the licensing agreement to offer cost or power saving measures as alternatives to the mandatory conditions. In order to be adopted, they must meet the requirements of existing environmental laws and regulations. According to Craig, “Our relicensing system is broken and needs reform to ensure hydro continues to provide low-cost, clean power while mitigating the impacts of the dams. This language provides flexibility and protection of our resources – both key to keeping costs low for consumers.”

Text of the amendments is available on Senator Craig’s website.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

CRAIG, CRAPO REACT TO JUDICIAL NOMINEES DEAL

Call for a fair up-or-down vote for all nominees

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Idaho Senators Larry Craig and Mike Crapo issued the following statement on the deal announced late last night by a handful of Senators from both parties:

“We are pleased that three of the President’s judicial nominees will receive fair up-or-down votes – it is about time. However, we continue to stress that the Constitution requires the Senate to hold up-or-down votes on all nominees. We will continue to work to ensure that is the case. Invoking the Constitutional option is still an option for the Majority Leader.

“Bill Myers of Idaho is one such nominee. He is a qualified jurist who received a majority vote in the last Congress, and we expect he will receive an even larger majority now. The Senate's action when the Myers' nomination is again brought to the floor will signify the sincerity of the signers of this deal.”

Of the fourteen Senators who signed the agreement, eight voted to invoke cloture on Myers during the last Congress.

More information is available on Senator Craig’s website at http://craig.senate.gov/report_judicialnom.htm.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

VA REGIONAL OFFICE ONE STEP CLOSER

Veterans Administration receives land for new regional office in Boise

WASHINGTON D.C. -- Senate Veterans Affairs Committee Chairman, Larry Craig, R-Idaho, and Representative Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, announced today that the General Services Administration turned over control of land under its jurisdiction to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for use in the development of a new Regional Office on the campus of the VA’s Medical Center in Boise. Prior to the transfer, the land was used as an overflow parking lot for the Federal Court House in Boise.

“This is a great day for the veterans of Idaho. We are one step closer to enhanced services for those who have served our country. When construction is complete on the new Veterans Benefits Administration Regional Office, Idaho veterans will be able to obtain all of their health services and benefits at one place rather than having to go to separate buildings in different parts of the city,”Craig and Simpson said.

The provision requiring the transfer of land was included as part of the “Veterans Health Programs Improvement Act of 2004” at the request of Craig and Simpson. The bill became Public Law 108-422 when the President signed the legislation on November 30, 2004.

Click here (PDF, 239K) for a copy of the letter transferring the property.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Bringing Idaho together

by Senator Larry Craig

Did you know that it takes less time to drive from Coeur d’Alene to Seattle than it does to drive from Coeur d’Alene to Boise? Here’s another fact that many in North Idaho know quite well. The best route from North Idaho to the capital city goes through Washington and Oregon, not Idaho. Sure, the drive down U.S. 95 is more scenic. It’s also a lot more dangerous.

It seems that every Idahoan has a tale of some harrowing experience on an Idaho highway, whether the experience happened on one of the winding stretches of U.S. 95, Idaho 55 along the Payette River, or on the congested lanes of U.S. 20, north of St. Anthony. Some would argue that bad roads have become a signature part of life in our state, one of the flaws that we accept as a price for all the things we love about living here.

With the U.S. Senate’s approval of H.R. 3, the Highway bill, we are one step closer to changing that. And if the House-Senate conference leaves the Senate version mostly intact, 2005 may well go down in history as the year in which Idaho turned a corner with respect to its highway infrastructure. In addition to H.R. 3, Governor Kempthorne showed a great deal of leadership earlier this year in identifying new opportunities to responsibly fund highway maintenance and construction projects and guiding his proposal through the Idaho Legislature. These two factors will combine to change transportation throughout the State.

I believe the Governor’s GARVEE bonding authority will be a great way to accelerate high-priority road building and improvement projects across the state, while keeping construction costs down. At the same time, the State won’t have to break the bank to carry out thirty years’ worth of projects in just ten.

All this comes at a time when Idaho is growing very rapidly, both in terms of economy and population. Growth presents challenges, as we are learning. Our neighbors to the west, in Oregon and Washington, provide important lessons. The major population centers in those two states, Portland and the cities around the Puget Sound, have not been keeping up with the transportation needs of these growing metropolitan areas, and the gridlock is beginning to affect their economies in very negative ways.

Highways are critical to moving people and products all across our State. When those people and products spend time in congested traffic, productivity drops. So does fuel efficiency and environmental integrity. But the cost goes far beyond dollars and cents. Overcrowded highways and winding, narrow roads can be dangerous, and, as too many Idahoans know, deadly.

That is why I supported the Highway bill. This legislation contains a formula for distributing federal highway dollars between the 50 states, and it treats those states with low-population densities fairly. Idaho will see a solid increase in highway dollars over the lifespan of the bill. These federal highway dollars are exactly what the Governor was talking about when he pitched the GARVEE bond proposal to the legislature.

Senator Crapo and I also succeeded in amending the Highway bill to designate U.S. 95 a high-priority, multi-state corridor. This designation makes Highway 95 eligible for additional funds in the future. Idahoans who have traveled this route know how much improvements are needed, and I have continuously worked over the years to make it a better road.

H.R. 3 accomplishes these benefits. I could not support the late amendments which increased the total cost of the legislation while we continue to get our deficit under control, but I felt the positive aspects of the overall bill for Idaho warranted my support.

Idaho is a large state. There are vast distances to cover when traveling by car or hauling freight, and they aren’t “easy drives.” However, because of the Highway bill and GARVEE bonding, some will soon be safer and easier, and Idahoans will soon be closer together.

I’ll keep working to improve our roads, so that the best way to travel in Idaho doesn’t mean driving through other states.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

CONGRESSIONAL GRANT FUNDS ON THEIR WAY

Dental Hygiene Program and Natural History Museum to receive $744,000

WASHINGTON D.C. – Idaho Senator Larry Craig and Representative Mike Simpson announced today that $744,000 in federal funding is being released to Idaho State University (ISU) by the U.S. Department of Education. ISU’s Department of Dental Hygiene will receive $496,000 while its Virtual Idaho Museum of Natural History will receive $248,000. Craig and Simpson, each a member of his respective chamber’s Appropriations Committee, worked together to secure the funding as part of the Fiscal Year 2005 Omnibus Appropriations Bill.

Senator Craig said, “ISU has made great strides in recent years in providing new and needed educational innovations for the state, and has found a unique niche among the Idaho universities. I am pleased that Congressman Simpson and I have the chance to assist them in this and other endeavors, and I expect we’ll continue to see more great things from ISU.”

“This funding is a crucial component of our ongoing efforts to expand the educational opportunities offered to ISU’s students and the people ofSoutheast Idaho,” said Congressman Simpson. “This funding is a testament to the hard work and dedication of everyone associated with these two programs at ISU. I commend the faculty and students of ISU for their success and look forward to seeing these programs up and running real soon.”

ISU’s Department of Dental Hygiene will use its share of funding to continue the development of a master’s program in dental hygiene. First year students in the master’s program are currently in the application stage and will begin classes in late August. Craig and Simpson secured $400,000 in Fiscal Year 2004 to begin the development stage of the master’s degree program.

ISU’s Virtual Idaho Museum of Natural History (VIMNH) will virtually archive the valuable collection of the Idaho Museum of Natural History (IMNH) and serve as a laboratory for applying this technology to research, teaching, and outreach projects developed by scientists and educators associated with the IMNH and the university. Craig and Simpson secured $250,000 in Fiscal Year 2004 for the operational technology of the VIMNH and the development of scanning protocols by its basic personnel.

Senator Craig is a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Labor, HHS, and Education Subcommittee through which these projects were funded. Representative Simpson is a member of the House Appropriations Committee and former member of the Labor, HHS, and Education Subcommittee.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

USDA TO PURCHASE POTATOES

Delegation helps to secure 80 million pound purchase

WASHINGTON – Secretary of Agriculture Mike Johanns announced today that the Department plans to purchase up to 80 million pounds of frozen and dehydrated potatoes. On March 15, 2005, the Idaho Congressional Delegation wrote the Secretary requesting this action.

The Delegation wrote in its letter, “When growers have periods of unusually high yields and resulting low prices, the Section 32 program serves to stabilize their market and allow them to continue to survive in an already rigid marketplace where small changes in price or supply dramatically impacts their ability to compete.”

The potatoes will be purchased under the authority of the Section 32 bonus buy program and will be used for domestic food assistance and child nutrition programs. The purchase complements 100 million pounds of potatoes already purchased this year. A copy of the letter is available at http://craig.senate.gov/releases/usda_section_32.pdf.

Monday, May 16, 2005

DELEGATION REACTS TO BRAC ANNOUNCEMENT

Pentagon recommendations not final

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Idaho Congressional Delegation reacted today to the release of the Department of Defense’s (DoD) list of proposed closures in the latest Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round. Delegation members stressed that the proposed list must still be approved by the BRAC Commission later this year, as well as Congress and the President.

“This is just the beginning of the BRAC process,” the Delegation said. “The fat lady isn’t singing yet. Before any closures or realignments take place, the nonpartisan BRAC Commission, Congress, and the President must approve the list. The final outcome could be much different from this initial proposal, and we are committed to protecting Idaho jobs and Idaho families who may be affected.

“As part of the process, we hope Secretary Rumsfeld and the DoD will explain the rationale and the need for this restructuring to the American people, as the reasons are not readily apparent in a time of war.

“To the best of our knowledge, Idaho is the only state in the nation where training ranges are expanding, not shrinking. We are hopeful the BRAC Commission will agree that these national security assets have clearly been overlooked by DoD.

“That being said, we are encouraged that no military installations in Idaho are targeted for closure, and that Mountain Home Air Force Base will be receiving a more advanced model of the F-15, the F-15E. Some states may lose thousands of military and civilian personnel, but we will work together in Congress to keep these jobs and these families in Idaho.”

The BRAC Commission must reject, modify, or approve the DoD list by September 8, 2005. After that, the list must be approved or rejected by both the House and Senate, and signed by President Bush.

Friday, May 13, 2005

In Iraq, a promise kept

by Senator Larry Craig and Representatives Mike Simpson and C.L. “Butch” Otter

As you may have heard, the three of us, accompanied by the Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson, recently returned from a trip to visit the soldiers of the Idaho National Guard’s 116th Cavalry Brigade in Iraq.

Last winter, as the men and women of the 116th trained at Fort Bliss, Texas, and Fort Polk, Louisiana for deployment to Iraq, members of the Idaho Congressional Delegation traveled down south at various times to visit with them. These hardworking Idahoans deserved to hear our appreciation of their service, and our commitment to them and their needs. Their commanders assured us the 116th would be well prepared to take up their mission in Iraq.

These words were reinforced with each of us, as we heard from individual troops going through training. Many said they were proud to have the opportunity to serve, and they were anxious to get their tour of duty underway. But they were also homesick for hometowns and loved ones. Understanding how reassuring a familiar face can be in an environment of uncertainty and change, we made a promise to visit our Idaho soldiers when they went to Iraq.

At the end of April, we got the opportunity to go. We all agreed it was the most educational, encouraging and worthwhile experience any of us have had in recent memory. We were the first members of Congress to visit with the new Prime Minister, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, since the new Iraqi government was formed.
We expressed to him the importance of quickly, but responsibly, putting a stable security force and functioning government in place to meet the needs of Iraqis and deal the terrorists yet another defeat. He assured us progress would continue on that front, and that the United States’ assistance in building a free Iraq will not soon be forgotten.

In Kirkuk, where the 116th is stationed, we saw Idahoans carrying out a variety of missions to provide stability and train Iraqis to build the foundations of a free society. They have earned the praises of their superiors – and most important – the local Iraqi people.

In the course of carrying out these duties, the 116th’s commander in Kirkuk, Brigadier General Alan Gayheart, explained an interesting development in relations between the 116th soldiers and Iraqi citizens there. He said the Iraqis have come to develop a greater respect and better working relationship with the 116th troops than with many of the full-time active duty forces. This is because Iraqis have learned that the men and women of the ING are civilians first, soldiers second. In their lives back home, our men and women on patrol are doctors, plumbers, electricians, police officers, construction workers, engineers and business owners.

Iraqis feel this makes ING troops more able to identify with the situation of ordinary citizens, and provide specific skills to solve everyday problems. Our troops understand what it means to worry about the safety of a family, crime on the streets, quality schools for the kids, or finding steady work. Gayheart believes this makes Iraqis more willing to accept the assistance and advice the ING provides.

Their successes have been inspiring, and there will be more ahead. There are more schools to renovate, more sewer systems to fix, more police to train. There will be challenges and setbacks too. There might be casualties. We are winning in Iraq, but we have not won. There is still much to do that, if left undone, could threaten the overall success of the mission there.

Some have asked us if the trip was worth it. You be the judge. While in Kirkuk, we ran across a young trooper from the 116th who we had seen in training back at Fort Polk. His eyes got big when he saw us, and he said, “When you guys said you’d come visit us in Iraq, I thought it was just politicians saying it because it was the right thing to say.” He couldn’t believe we were there. He came right over, thanked and hugged us, and got a little choked up. In truth, we all did.

Later, we flew out of Iraq on a C-130 cargo plane, carrying three flag-draped coffins. We also visited wounded Idahoans at Landstuhl, Germany. That soldier who hugged us, the flight out of Baghdad, and the hospital in Germany truly brought home the gravity of the mission in Iraq and the sacrifices being made by our fine young men and women in uniform.

We learned a great deal and were exposed to much we couldn’t have comprehend without seeing it on the ground. And the soldiers seemed to appreciate our support. Was it worth it? You bet. Every living, breathing minute.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

ENERGY EXPERT JOINS CRAIG’S STAFF

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Dr. Corey McDaniel has joined the staff of Idaho Senator Larry Craig to serve as his Senior Energy Policy Advisor.

Dr. McDaniel is a native of Las Cruces, New Mexico and spent three years performing nuclear safety analysis and risk assessments at the Los Alamos National Laboratory. He spent the past 9 years as an energy and environmental consultant in Washington, D.C., with the last four of those years in private practice focused on nuclear and wind energy development in the western U.S.

Dr. McDaniel completed his doctoral studies in Environmental Science and Public Policy at George Mason University. He completed B.S. and M.S. degrees in Nuclear Engineering from Purdue University and the University of New Mexico respectively. Dr. McDaniel has been registered as a professional engineer since 1998 in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Craig welcomed Dr. McDaniel and underscored the importance of the position, saying, “Energy and environmental issues are vital to Idaho -- from securing the future of the INL to ensuring a clean environment that welcomes industry. Corey brings a depth of knowledge on these issues and a passion for the West that will enhance what I can do for Idaho.”

Dr. McDaniel said, “I am honored to have been asked to serve Senator Craig and the citizens of Idaho, and I look forward to supporting the Senator’s vision for a proactive energy policy that provides a balanced approach for protecting the homeland, the U.S. economy, and the global climate.”

McDaniel replaces Kristine Svinicki, who worked for Senator Craig for eight years. Svinicki now works for the Senate Armed Services Committee.

To find out more about Senator Craig’s actions and vision for energy policy, please read his Energy Policy Issue Brief.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Do Donkeys lay eggs?

by Senator Larry Craig

New job figures just released by the U.S. Department of Labor show that 274,000 payroll jobs were created in April, 2005. The current unemployment rate of 5.2 percent falls easily below the averages of the 1970s, ‘80s, and ‘90s. Since August of 2003, in less than two years’ time, 3.5 million jobs have been created, thanks, in large part, to the tax relief and economic policies enacted by President Bush and the Congress.
Hearing these positive numbers reminded me of a funny political cartoon I saw last fall, before the presidential elections. The cartoon showed the Democrats’ mascot, a donkey, reaching into an egg basket. Expecting to find some eggs to throw at the President, those eggs representing what Democrats felt were poor job growth numbers, the donkey was dismayed to find that the bottom of the basket had fallen out, and the eggs lay broken on the ground.

Clearly, the effort to paint the continued economic recovery in the United States as a “jobless recovery” was an effort based fear and anecdote, not on fact. It’s worth noting that the U.S. economy has created net new jobs for 23 consecutive months, and there are no signs of that trend stopping any time soon. Perhaps that’s why you no longer hear liberals complaining about the “jobless recovery.” It never existed to begin with.

How did this encouraging environment come about? Certainly not through the tired-out tax-and-spend proposals put forth by congressional Democrats and special interest groups. Americans increasingly understand that in order to keep the economy growing, the federal government must allow individuals and families to keep more of their own hard-earned money. The government is notorious for inefficiency and waste. Private savings, investment and entrepreneurship stimulate economic activity and create jobs. A wise government creates the environment that allows free enterprise and individual initiative to flourish.

The middle class and family tax relief of 2001 and 2003, coupled with capital gains and dividend tax reductions of 2003, proved to be timely medicine. Real economic growth has been averaging 4.3 percent annually, a very healthy rate of growth.

As the economy has grown faster than expected, with so many more people working and paying income, federal revenues have also grown faster than anticipated. Just a few days ago, the Treasury Department reported that instead of borrowing $12 billion to finance federal debt from April to June, the Treasury will actually pay off $42 billion in debt during this period. As the economy continues to grow, that will help fight budget deficits, which has to be one of our highest priorities.

I know most Idahoans agree that paying off debts is a good thing. Avoiding debt in the first place is even better, and I will continue to work in the Senate to get the federal government’s spending under control. Some may get tired of hearing me say it, but it bears repeating: Families have to live on a budget and avoid spending beyond their means. So should the federal government.

We are making progress. Congress has just approved its budget resolution for Fiscal Year 2006, a blueprint that calls for reducing the deficit by half over five years.

Rest assured, as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I will be working hard on bills that meet our nation’s priorities, but do not pass massive debt on to our children and grandchildren.

In the meantime, I will continue to work with the President to ensure that our economy continues to grow. As I do, I hope my colleagues across the aisle will realize that when eggs are thrown, sometimes one can end up on your face.

Friday, May 06, 2005

ROADLESS RULE FINALIZED

“Positive step forward to resolve roadless debate”

BOISE, Idaho – The Bush Administration released the final roadless area rule today. The rule affects 9 million acres in Idaho, second only to Alaska in total land affected.

Idaho’s Congressional Delegation issued the following statement:

"We congratulate the Bush Administration for taking such
a positive step toward resolving the roadless debate. This
rule recognizes that a broad dictate over 60 million acres is
simply unacceptable. By empowering states to offer suggestions on the
management of roadless area in their states, the Forest Service can craft management plans to local conditions, reflecting local priorities while maintaining the lands for everyone.

"This rule will assist the Forest Service in the daunting job of
managing 192 million acres to meet the demands of a vast array of users while conserving the health of the forest."

More information on the rule can be found at http://www.usda.gov.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

CONFEREES REACH AGREEMENT ON SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATIONS

Bill supports the war, tsunami relief, and border security

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Conferees have approved supplemental funding for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, tsunami relief, and border security, among other items. A conference committee for the Senate and the House of Representatives approved the $82 billion measure.

Idaho Senator Larry Craig and Representative Mike Simpson, both members of the Appropriations Committee, issued the following statement upon the approval of the bill:

“This is a fiscally responsible bill that provides our troops with the resources they need to secure freedom in the Middle East and to assist those ravaged by the tsunami. In addition, it recognizes the need to increase our homeland security efforts, including border protection.”


The bill provides $1.2 billion in domestic appropriations to fight the war on terror and increase homeland security. Included is language to add 500 new border patrol agents, 1950 new detention beds, and 218 other new investigators and enforcement personnel. The language, known as the Byrd/Craig amendment, was originally adopted by the Senate on a 65 to34 vote.

Craig and Simpson added, “Securing our borders is a key component of homeland security. These additional resources strive to meet the goals of the 9/11 Commission and will catapult us forward in our efforts to ensure better control of who enters our country.”

The Conference Report will now go before the House and Senate for final approval by each. It cannot be amended.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

CRAIG, SIMPSON, OTTER VISIT IRAQ

Fulfill promise to Idaho National Guard troops

RAMSTEIN, GERMANY – Idaho Senator Larry Craig and Representatives Mike Simpson and C.L. “Butch” Otter arrived in Germany today after visiting Idaho troops in Iraq during the weekend. They spent two days in the region visiting Idaho soldiers serving in the Idaho National Guard’s 116th Cavalry Brigade and other branches of the military. On the return trip, the three members of the Idaho Congressional Delegation, accompanied by Secretary of Veterans Affairs Jim Nicholson, stopped today in Ramstein, Germany to visit with wounded soldiers at Landstuhl military hospital.

Earlier this year, while members of the 116th were preparing for deployment at Fort Bliss, Texas, and Fort Polk, Lousiana, members of the Idaho Congressional Delegation promised to come visit the 116th in Iraq. This trip, which was not disclosed until now for security reasons, fulfilled that promise to Idaho’s soldiers.

Craig, Simpson, and Otter issued the following statement: “Throughout our time in Iraq, we were impressed, but not surprised, by the determination and achievements of our Idaho soldiers. These fine young people are using their civilian skills not only to provide for the security of Iraqis, but to busily tackle the task of training the Iraqi people and their leaders on how to build a free society from the ground, up.

“We were proud to visit with our young men and women as they carry out these dual roles with such enthusiasm and skill. They already have earned a strong reputation with their active-duty counterparts and commanding officers, and we were honored simply to share their company.”

Monday, May 02, 2005

NAS downwinders study released

By Larry Craig

I wanted to let you know about the release of a study that is potentially important to many Idahoans. The National Academies of Sciences (NAS) report on the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) was released late afternoon on Thursday, April 28, 2005.

Under the current law, RECA compensation is available only to residents of specific counties, in specific geographic regions, during specific timeframes. Although that law was drafted using the best scientific standards available at the time, the idea of narrowly-defined geographic boundaries as a standard to determine radiation exposure has become obsolete according to the principles of modern science. That has always been my frustration with the current law, and I was very glad the NAS report addressed that issue -- it is high time for a change.

The report also makes a series of recommendations for Congress that could eventually lead to a nationwide, science-based expansion of RECA. This would require the establishment of a level of radiation exposure and a probability of exposure at that level that will determine eligibility for compensation across the nation.

I believe that the cancer victims in Idaho deserve equitable consideration under existing compensation programs, and continue to extend my heartfelt sympathies to them and to their families. I have been very actively engaged in this issue and in the Congressionally-directed review of downwinder compensation programs. My goal is to ensure all Idahoans access to the RECA process as soon as possible, and I am exploring all options for achieving that goal. In coordination with Senator Crapo, I am working on legislation that will expand RECA to include all counties in Idaho.

More information, an executive summary and the full 372-page report are available on the National Academies of Science's website, http://www.nas.edu. If you have further questions regarding this issue, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Honoring Those Who Served in Vietnam

by Senator Larry Craig

If you are a Vietnam veteran, thank you for your service to our nation. If you know a Vietnam veteran, please thank them for me. These are America’s heroes, and we all owe them a deep debt of gratitude. We can never thank them enough.

They went to Vietnam to help the free people of the south defend themselves from the tyranny of the north. They went to stop the spread of communism, which was at that time making gains throughout the world and which represented a serious long-term threat to America.

They were there to live out President Kennedy’s pledge: “Let every nation know whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”

It was a noble call. It was a noble effort. It is tragic that our political leaders failed them when the troops on the ground needed them the most.

Thirty years ago, on April 30, 1975, the American war in Vietnam ended. Thirty years later, as Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, my job is to be an advocate for all of our nation’s veterans – from the few survivors still with us from World War I to the youngest veterans returning today from Iraq. But the veterans from Vietnam will always hold a special place in my heart.

This is my generation, and now I am responsible to see that they receive the best care this nation can provide. I do not intend to see those who served in Vietnam failed again by their political leaders.

Those who of us who grew up during the war in Vietnam remember it like it was yesterday. Every day the body count on the nightly news. Stories of atrocities. A few stories of survival. Stories of heroic deeds. Protests on high school and college campuses. Riots in the streets of America. Some avoiding the draft by running off to Canada. The Mi Lai Massacre. The Tet Offensive. Soldiers shooting and killing students at Kent State.

It was a turbulent time. It was a maddening time. It was a time never to be forgotten.

Of the 20,000 National Guardsmen who served in Vietnam, 97 were killed. Their names are now part of the 58,245 names etched on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, D.C. They gave their lives, the last full measure of devotion. They gave their todays so that we may have our tomorrows. The numbers of those who gave their lives are staggering.

Today, the men and women of the Idaho National Guard’s 116th Cavalry Brigade carry on in the proud footsteps of their forefathers. And now, as Abraham Lincoln said, it is for us, the living to be dedicated to their unfinished work of freedom, even as we find ourselves in another great war.

We are doing that in Iraq and Afghanistan. Because of our quick military action, both of those nations have recently held free elections. Now democracy is on the march across the region. Libya has opened its doors and seeks to improve its relations with the United States. Syria has been evicted by the people of Lebanon. Saudi Arabia and Egypt are opening up their doors of their electoral process.

Is the situation perfect? No. Are things getting better? Yes!

The lessons we learned in Vietnam provided the foundation for our military successes in Iraq and Afghanistan. And to that we must say “thank you” again to our veterans who served in Vietnam.