September 25, 2020

In 1970, President Nixon signed into law the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). Congress originally passed NEPA as a procedural statute that would ensure federal agencies were accounting for the environmental consequences of proposed federal actions or projects. 

Over the last 50 years, this process has substantially deviated from its original purpose. NEPA is now a complex, bureaucratic labyrinth that dramatically increases the cost and timeline for many urgently needed projects. In this situation, there are no winners. There are, however, many who lose out including American consumers, businesses, and employees. The current situation also creates ironic hurdles for land managers who are interested in conservation projects.

Therefore, I am excited to announce an effort I am calling the “Undoing NEPA’s Substantial Harm by Advancing Concepts that Kickstart the Liberation of the Economy” or UNSHACKLE Act. It contains a number of provisions to reform the NEPA regulatory process so that federal agencies, state and local governments, and other project sponsors are empowered to carry out NEPA’s original purpose.

The UNSHACKLE Act can be divided into four main reform areas:

  1. Timing – imposing one and two-year deadlines on the length of time agencies can take to assess any environmental impact and approve or deny projects. Currently, the average wait time is more than four years, and the assessment for one highway expansion project in Colorado took 13 years! 
  2. Process – mandating only one report of estimated impact and prohibiting the federal government from offering infeasible alternatives. For instance, if a state government is planning to build roadways, the federal agency shouldn’t come back and tell them to build a transit system. 
  3. Litigation – one of the biggest drivers of the length and expense of the NEPA process is litigation. The UNSHACKLE Act clarifies certain legal requirements and establishes a 150-day statute of limitations on NEPA-related claims.
  4. Delegation – allowing states that are willing and able to handle the NEPA review to do so on behalf of the federal government. Six states, including Utah, already have such an agreement with the Federal Highway Administration. The UNSHACKLE Act expands this delegation authority to all federal agencies. 

In order to bring our economy back from the devastation of COVID-19, we have to be sure businesses are empowered to rehire their workers and roar back to life. As the country looks to reopen, the best way to aid the post-COVID-19 recovery is to eliminate unnecessary regulatory red tape and reduce government inference. The UNSHACKLE Act’s regulatory reforms will help reduce business operating expenses and create more certainty for investors and projects in Utah and throughout the country.

COVID-19 Resources

March 13, 2020

If you have an immediate need to contact a federal agency during this outbreak, please email for our help. However, if you are experiencing any health complications, please contact a health care facility or individual. This email is not monitored in real time nor can our office provide individual advice on how to treat or prevent the coronavirus. Additionally, please only use this email if you are truly in need of time-sensitive service. Any regular correspondence will only delay our ability to serve Utahns in desperate need. Letters to the Senator voicing your opinions about matters should continue to be sent via our contact form at the top right corner of our home page.

If you're worried about whether you may have COVID-19, please call the Utah Coronavirus Information Line at 1-800-456-7707.

If you are a health care provider evaluating a patient for suspected novel coronavirus (COVID-19) infection, please contact the Utah Department of Health immediately at 888-EPI-UTAH (374-8824).

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of COVID-19 may appear 2-14 days after exposure and include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

If you develop symptoms, and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or if you have recently traveled from an area with widespread or ongoing community spread of COVID-19, call your health care professional. 

If you have been notified by public health authorities that you might have been exposed, follow instructions provided by your local health department.

Additional information from the CDC


What to do when sick

Call your doctor:  If you think you have been exposed to COVID-19 and develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough or difficulty breathing, call your healthcare provider immediately.

Additional information from the CDC


Steps to prevent illness

The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

  • Clean your hands often
  • Avoid close contact
  • Stay home if you’re sick
  • Cover coughs and sneezes
  • Clean and disinfect

Additional information from the CDC


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All Americans abroad should register with the State Department's STEP program, which allows the government to contact them directly with the latest information on travel to the United States. Sign up here

Country-specific travel information and advisories may be found here

If you need more help please call our office at 801-524-5933


Do you have a loved one overseas?

All Americans abroad should register with the State Department's STEP program, which allows the government to contact them directly with the latest information on travel to the United States. Sign up here 

Country-specific travel information and advisories may be found here

If you need more help please call our office at 801-524-5933


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The Strategic Petroleum Scam

March 6, 2020

There is an old saying that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting the same results. And unfortunately, by this standard, Congress has for many years proven to be stark raving mad. The energy bill Congress began to consider this week – which authorizes billions of dollars for dozens of unnecessary energy programs – is just another example.

It is yet another bill that involves the federal government in things it should not be involved in, it spends massive amounts of money that we do not have, and it kicks the can for paying for debt we can’t afford yet further down the road…. on top of the $22 trillion we have already incurred. Some of my colleagues claim that this bill is “paid for,” because the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has estimated that it will add nothing to our national debt. However, that is only the case through an unsound, unreliable accounting gimmick.

This bill will “pay for” the numerous programs it contains by borrowing money now, and postponing the sale of petroleum in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to pay for it later. The SPR, which is owned and maintained by the Department of Energy, consists of 700 million barrels of petroleum. Starting in 2015, Congress has mandated that we sell 5 million barrels from the SPR to create revenue to pay for other programs in those authorizations.

Since then, not a single barrel mandated to be sold from those authorizations has been sold. And now, this bill mandates the SPR to postpone the sale of those barrels until even later, under the reasoning that they will be worth more later on, and so will bring in even more money then. But this is neither sound nor reasonable fiscal policy.

Consider this analogy. Let’s say I want to buy a fancy new car – even though I am already in debt, and have no cash in my bank account. So the bank gives me a loan on the condition that I sell my house in the next few years, when it will be worth more and can cover the cost of the car. But a few years roll around, and at that point I need to buy a different car that can fit my growing my family. And then I ask for another loan, on the condition that I sell my house in yet another few years when it will be worth more and can cover the cost of both cars. And instead of ever actually selling my house, I continue to take out loans on the assumption that I will sell it at some point in the future when it will be worth enough to pay off all of my loans.

No bank, no banker in his right mind, would ever agree to these conditions. It’s fiscally unsound – fiscally insane, even. And if there’s one thing we know about Congress, it’s that putting it off until later almost always means that it never happens.

On top of that, many of the programs that this package authorizes are unnecessary and unsound themselves, and are not projects that the federal government should be involved in.

As it currently stands, there is nothing about this package that is sane. If we continually kick the can down the road, there will only be disaster waiting for us, and for our children.

Let’s hope Congress finally learns its lesson, and soon.

End the War in Afghanistan

February 14, 2020

Describing how the Pentagon presented information to the American public about Afghanistan, Army Col. Bob Crowley, who served as senior counterinsurgency adviser in Afghanistan in 2013 and 2014, told investigators: “Every data point was altered to present the best picture possible. Surveys, for instance, were totally unreliable but reinforced that everything we were doing was right and we became a self-licking ice cream cone.”

As memorable as the phrase “self-licking ice cream cone” is, it also reflects something that is deeply disturbing. Col. Bob Crowley gave this quote to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) John Sopko. Created by Congress in 2008 to combat the usual waste, fraud, and abuse that accompanies any government spending program, SIGAR expanded its mission in 2014 to produce a “Lessons Learned” report that would diagnose the nation building policy failures in Afghanistan.

The Lessons Learned staff went on to more than 600 people with firsthand knowledge of the war in Afghanistan, including Col. Crowley. They produced seven reports concluding that the U.S. government greatly overestimated its ability to build and reform government institutions in Afghanistan.

But the most disturbing parts of the Lessons Learned project were not revealed until The Washington Post began using the Freedom of Information Act to obtain the original interviews gathered to produce the reports. That is when the disturbing pattern of mistruths and falsifications became apparent. As Sopko told The Post, “The American people have constantly been lied to.”

I remember 9/11 as if it were yesterday. My daughter Eliza was a baby at the time. Shortly thereafter we undertook the war effort in Afghanistan. What we were told was there was a clear objective. The clear objective was to retaliate against al Qaeda and to make sure the Taliban was not strong enough to launch other attacks against the United States.

Since then 19 years have elapsed. My baby daughter Eliza is now in college. We’re still there. That war is still going on. The Taliban is still a thing. What is our objective?

When the United States has been in a war this long, when that war has cost us as many lives as it has, when it has cost us tens of thousands of casualties, when we’ve been lied to over and over again about what its purpose is we must conclude that there is no objective, that there is no end in sight.

Let’s get out. Nineteen years is too long. Let’s end it.

The True Cost of New Spending

January 17, 2020

When you’re running a household or managing personal finances, there are certain basic principles that everyone generally ought to follow – at least, if you are trying to be practical and responsible with your money.

One of the most fundamental, essential principles is living within your means. You can’t spend what you don’t have, unless you take on debt. And when you do borrow money, it inevitably means you’ll have to pay interest. That means that every decision to borrow requires not just thinking about the short-term cost, but what it will cost over the long-term.

It should be no different in the federal government.

Unfortunately, Congress has flagrantly ignored these most basic, essential budgeting principles for decades.

The federal government has for years lived excessively outside of its means, racking up trillions and trillions of dollars of national debt. In fact, our nation’s outstanding public debt just surpassed $23 trillion this past October.

But in spite of that, the federal government continues to spend vast amounts of money on endless programs, adding to the already-massive deficit; all without considering the cost of the long-term interest we will have to pay.

The problem stems from the fact that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has not been instructed to include debt servicing costs in the cost estimates they produce for new legislation.

In other words, instead of weighing the real cost of new spending, Congress is routinely underestimating the cost of new programs.

All the while, debt is rising faster than our economic growth, with interest payments making up the fastest-growing part of the budget. Projections show that interest payments will reach over $800 billion within ten years. By 2021, we will spend more on interest than on children; and by 2023, we will be spending more on interest than Medicaid.

If we continue this way, the numbers will simply never add up. And inevitably, that is going to spell big trouble for us, our children, and our children’s children.

That’s why this week, I joined 67 of my colleagues in sending a bicameral, bipartisan letter to both the House and Senate Budget Committees asking them to require the CBO to include debt servicing costs in any new cost estimates that they produce. 

This will help members of Congress understand the true cost of any new program, and thus make better informed spending decisions with taxpayer dollars.

Our long-term fiscal stability – and sanity – depends on it.

Abortion Is Not Health Care

January 10, 2020

Many people have heard of the “Hippocratic Oath,” the oath of ethics historically taken by physicians. One of the best known ancient Greek medical texts, it is the earliest expression of medical ethics in the Western world, and established several fundamental principles that continue to guide medical practice to this day.

One of those principles is the understanding that medicine, and doctors, must “do no harm” to patients. It lays out the fundamental understanding that the purpose of healthcare is to heal, cure, and to avoid injury.

Unfortunately, this vital precept has been undermined – and in fact, completely subverted – through the practice of abortion in the United States today.

Instead of caring for unborn children in their mothers’ wombs, doctors actively and intentionally end their lives – whether through deadly pills, chemical solutions, or invasive procedures.

It’s estimated that in 2017 alone, 862,000 unborn children lost their lives to abortion.

What’s worse, taxpayer dollars subsidize this lethal practice. Abortions can even be considered as tax deductible expenses.

Under current law, the IRS categorizes abortions as “medical care,” and allows taxpayers to itemize abortions as qualifying out-of-pocket medical expenses on their tax returns.

This is grossly unjust and grossly unethical. The government should not offer tax benefits for a procedure that kills thousands of unborn children each year, nor should taxpayers subsidize such a practice.

This flatly belies the truth that all human beings have dignity and worth, and that the purpose of healthcare is to heal and care for them – not to kill them.

That’s why I introduced the Abortion is Not Healthcare Act this week.

This bill would end the preferential tax treatment of abortion and clarify that this gruesome practice is not healthcare. Specifically, it would amend Section 213 of the Internal Revenue Code to prohibit abortion expenses from being considered as eligible for a medical expense deduction.

We ought not endorse, in our laws or through our money, a practice that undermines the most important, humane principle of healthcare.

Americans – especially those in the womb – deserve better.

Protecting America Livestock

December 20, 2019

This March the United States Fish and Wildlife Service proposed a new regulation that would remove the gray wolf from the endangered species list.

The science is on the government’s side. Today there are an estimated 5,600 gray wolves in the United States and grey wolf population continues to exceed the appropriate management levels established by relevant state wildlife divisions and benchmarks from the Fish and Wildlife Service.

There are so many grey wolves roaming the west that they have become a real threat to America’s livestock. “Populations have reached critically high numbers in many states - so high, in fact, that wolves are not just preying on livestock, but pushing elk and deer onto U.S. farms and ranches, which leads to even more destruction,” The American Farm Bureau Federation said when the FWS announced their new regulation.

Unfortunately, wealthy environmentalists whose livelihoods do not depend on healthy herds of sheep and cattle disagree. They have promised to sue to stop the rule in federal court. And while it is almost assured FWS would win eventually, the lawsuits could delay implementation of the regulation for months and even years.

That is why I introduced the American Wild Game and Livestock Protection Act this week. The bill would avoid all litigation over the grey wolf’s endangered species status by simply declaring them not endangered pursuant to the Endangered Species Act.

This bill would in no way stop or even slow a possible relisting of the grey wolf if population numbers fall in the future. If the situation changes, if the science shows the grey wolf has become endangered again, then a future government could relist the grey wolf. This bill does not prevent that.

All this bill does do is cut out all the wasteful litigation taxpayers will face from radical environmentalists as they fight the science and this new regulation in court.

Why Congress Must Reclaim Its War Powers

December 13, 2019

This week, The Washington Post published a bombshell report they are calling the “Afghanistan Papers”, reviewing thousands of internal government documents and private interviews relating to the war in Afghanistan. And it has exposed one of the most shameful political and military scandals in American history.

According to the documents uncovered by the Post, military and civilian leaders from the last three administrations have engaged in a massive conspiracy to mislead the American public about the reality in Afghanistan. While they consistently painted a rosy outlook to the public about our “success” and “progress” in that country, behind closed doors they knew otherwise. These officials knew the war was going badly and that America had little if anything to gain from it. And they deliberately hid the evidence from the American people.

It has been a gross abuse of power and military force, wasting trillions of dollars and thousands of lives. It is, unfortunately, a perfect example of why we ought to be so cautious about spending our precious economic and human resources to engage our country in war.

This is exactly why the Founders were so careful in designing the war powers process that they did.

After living under the tyranny of King George III of England, they knew that bad things happen when too few people exercise too much power. And they understood that nowhere is this more evident than in the power to declare war.

Under British rule, the King of England could send his country – and ours – into war, all by himself, regardless of whether it was in anyone else’s interest.

So the Founders made a dramatic break from this model when they established our republic. Instead of vesting this power in the executive branch, with the President or a single official, where it would be more likely to be abused, they placed it squarely in the legislative branch.

They then further sought to disperse this power within the branches of Congress: the branch where open and public debate would happen; and the branch most easily accountable to the people at regular intervals through elections.

As James Madison put it to Thomas Jefferson in a letter in 1798, “The constitution supposes, what the History of all Governments demonstrates, that the Executive is the branch of power most interested in war, and most prone to it. It has accordingly with studied care vested the question of war in the Legislature.”

Unfortunately, over the past several decades we have deviated far from our constitutional framework.

From the North Korean war, to Vietnam, to Lebanon, to Somalia, and our various, ongoing entanglements in the Middle East, our presidents now routinely send our country to war unilaterally without congressional authorization.

What’s worse, Congress has consistently and deliberately chosen not do anything about it. Out of cowardice and self-interest, it has surrendered its constitutional responsibilities and willingly empowered the executive branch instead.

And the American people – and their faith in our institutions – have suffered as a result.

That is why it is of the utmost importance that Congress reclaims its rightful role in foreign policy and war-making. If we follow our constitutional framework, we can ensure that if we go to war it is truly in the interest of the American people. And if we don’t, debacles like the one in Afghanistan will only lead us further down a dangerous, unconstitutional, and immoral path.

A Better Head Start

December 6, 2019

Nothing is more important to the future of our society – nor more critical to fulfilling our national commitment to equal opportunity – than the care and upbringing of the next generation.

That is why it is so important that we make sure the resources we devote to raising the next generation are being spent as wisely as possible.

Unfortunately, the science shows our current Head Start dollars are not being spent wisely.

Launched in 1965 and greatly expanded through its 2007 reauthorization, Head Start is one of the longest-running programs designed to help underprivileged children. Despite the program’s good intentions, Head Start has failed to produce positive results.

A Head Start study released by HHS in October of 2012 demonstrated that any advantages gained through Head Start are short-term and undetectable by the time a Head Start participant reaches the 3rd grade. In many cases, Head Start even has a statistically significant unfavorable impact on grade advancement among Head Start participants. The study also found that participants in Head Start had higher rates of behavioral problems than similar children who did not participate.

The best way to help children living below the poverty line is to redirect the billions of dollars the federal government spends on this failing program to the states and give them the full flexibility and freedom to control where, and how this money is spent on pre-K programs. This would allow those closest to the children and families being served to design their own programs — rather than spending all their time complying with onerous, one-size-fits-all federal mandates — and designate eligible public and private preschools to receive grants.

That is why I introduced the Head Start Improvement Act of 2019 this week. This legislation eliminates the federal Head Start bureaucracy and block grants its full $10 billion budget to the states. States would be authorized to spend these funds on pre-K education for underprivileged children, including through school choice programs that would help defray the costs of private pre-school tuition.

Few decisions are more intimate than how a family chooses to care for their young. Some may opt for a public program, while others seek out a private day care facility. And, of course, many rely heavily on help from family, friends, and neighbors.

Washington should respect these decisions and empower parents, communities, and states by making it easier to develop and tailor these unique solutions. The Head Start Improvement Act is a step in that direction.

Fighting for Utah’s Fair Share

November 22, 2019

There are many things unique to life in Western states. One of the special benefits is of our beautiful lands and landscapes. Unfortunately, these same lands are also often subject to federal ownership, which means that the federal government often controls how and who can enjoy it.

For many years, the federal government has collected royalties from onshore oil and gas development on public lands. At first, the federal government split this revenue 50/50 with the host states where the development of this land takes place.

But in 1993, the federal government began to take away 2% from the states and imposed it as a “collection fee” – meaning that the federal government now receives 52% of the revenue from these mineral royalties, and the states receive only 48%.

This might seem like a relatively small sum, but it adds up in western states like Utah, Wyoming, and New Mexico, to name a few. In fact, this surcharge shortchanges our states to the tune of millions of dollars each year – money that was promised to and rightfully belongs to the states. For example, in just FY2019, Utah lost about $3 million in revenue due to this surcharge. This robs us of precious funds needed for local schools, infrastructure, law enforcement, and various needs in our local communities.

That’s why this week, during a bill markup by the Energy and Natural Resource Committee, I offered an amendment that would remove eliminate the 2% surcharge so that the original ratio is restored and states can collect their own mineral royalties, fair and square.

Some of my Democratic colleagues were concerned by the phrasing of my proposed amendment, which required the Secretary of the Interior to convey “right, title, and interest” to the 2% percentage to the states. Because this terminology often is used for the transfer of property itself, they were worried that the amendment would therefore not just transfer money to the states, but would allow transfer of federal land as well.

Thankfully, we were able to work together to draft new phrasing to assuage my colleagues’ fears. While I expected the amendment to adopted along party lines, because we were able to collaborate on the new language, it was in the end adopted with bipartisan support.

The federal government should not be snatching up mineral royalties that rightfully belong to the states. States are best equipped to collect these mineral revenues, and to determine how those funds should be spent for the good of their communities. If our amendment is included with this bill and passes through Congress, it will mean millions of dollars for states across the West that can help them do just that. I’m grateful that our work in the markup this week was a step in the right direction.