Feb 23, 2012
“The merger of these PBMs may pose some risks to the market’s competitive balance but overall has the potential to create meaningful efficiencies and provide significant savings for consumers.”
“The combined entity may produce significant cost savings for health plan sponsors by means of its increased bargaining power and its improved tools for closing gaps in care, promoting adherence to medications, and overall disease management.”
“I am not aware of significant evidence that this merger will result in decreased competition among viable PBMs able to service most companies and accounts.”
Lee stated that any anticompetitive effects of the merger on community pharmacies would be of special concern, “in light of the important service those small businesses provide to rural and otherwise underserved residents in my State and throughout the country.”Lee’s letter added that it is important to remember that the purpose of the antitrust laws is to maximize consumer welfare, not to protect competitors, and that “government regulators must be careful not to intervene in a manner that will constrain productive market forces.”
Feb 17, 2012
WASHINGTON – This afternoon Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) openly threatened Senate Republicans who are opposing presidential nominees based on President Obama's unconstitutional use of his recess appointment power. In a speech on the Senate floor, Reid said that unless Republicans changed course, he would "recommend to the president he recess appoint all these people, every one of them."“It is odd, to say the least, for the Senate Majority Leader to suggest that unless we stop responding to the President's unconstitutional actions, more unconstitutional actions will follow,” said Senator Lee. “Senator Reid has condoned and encouraged further use of President Obama's unprecedented practice of making unconstitutional ‘recess’ appointments even when the Senate does not consider itself to be in recess. As Majority Leader, Senator Reid has a responsibility to defend the rightful prerogatives of the Senate against encroachment by the President. His failure has the potential to last long beyond this Administration or any partisan gains for the Democrats."
Feb 17, 2012
"On January 4, 2012, President Obama bypassed the Senate’ s constitutional right to advise and consent to nominees and instead unilaterally made appointments to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and National Labor Relations Board. He purported to do so under the Constitution’s Recess Appointments Clause, even though at the time of the appointments the Senate was holding pro-forma sessions approximately every 72 hours.
"If allowed to stand, President Obama’s unprecedented and unconstitutional assertion of the recess appointment power could result in presidents of both parties routinely circumventing the Senate’s Advice and Consent function and thus depriving the people’s representatives of an essential constitutional check on the executive branch. President Obama’s actions also violate the Constitution’s separation of powers. He has asserted the unilateral power to override Congress’s own determination of when it is in session. At an absolute minimum, the Senate’s institutional prerogatives demand that we be allowed to make our own rules, and yet President Obama’s actions would deprive our body of even that basic right.
"In the past, I have given the President’s judicial nominees great deference. Both in the Judiciary Committee and on the floor, I have voted in favor of the vast majority of President Obama’s nominees, including many which whom I fundamentally disagree.
"But I can do so no more. The Founders expected that each branch of government would exercise the necessary constitutional means to resist encroachments by the other branches. Among those constitutional means is the Senate’s Advice and Consent function, which I exercised today by voting against a nominee that otherwise might have received my support. Thirty three other Senators did the same.
"The President cannot expect the Senate’s full cooperation at the same time that he does violence to this body’s constitutional prerogatives. The threshold for confirming President Obama’s nominees must change accordingly. Simply put, there is a new standard for confirmation.
"Both today, and in the coming days, I will join with other Senators to act as a check on the President’s unconstitutional conduct by voting against some nominees. I expect that many of my Republican colleagues, and in time some of my Democratic colleagues, will rise in defense of the Constitution and vote against President Obama’s nominees until such time that he takes actions to restore the Senate’s full constitutional right to advise and consent to his nominees. "
Feb 15, 2012
WASHINGTON - Yesterday, Senator Mike Lee introduced legislation that would prohibit abortions in Washington, D.C. after the 20th week of pregnancy, the point at which doctors say a child has developed the ability to experience pain. The “District of Columbia Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” is modeled on legislation passed in Nebraska, Kansas, Idaho, Oklahoma, and Alabama. There are no current restrictions on abortions in the District.
“Protecting unborn children from experiencing pain should not be controversial,” said Senator Lee. “Similar laws have already been passed in multiple states. With respect to the Federal District, Congress not only has the responsibility to act immediately, but also the undisputed authority to do so.
“Over the years, science has developed the ability to determine when an unborn child can experience pain. On this basis, I hope we are able to reach broad consensus where science has moved forward. While I will continue to fight for further protection of life, there is no justifiable reason for anyone to oppose this specific level of protection.”
Feb 13, 2012
Feb 9, 2012
Feb 8, 2012
WASHINGTON – Utah’s Congressional delegation today wrote to Secretary Ken Salazar of the U.S. Department of the Interior to urge he overturn the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM’s) Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for Oil Shale and Tar Sands that was recently announced. The PEIS reduced the federal lands available to oil shale development from 2 million acres to only 461,965 acres. Closing off these lands is a significant missed opportunity to create jobs and lower energy costs for Utahns.
In the letter to Secretary Salazar, the delegation notes that the BLM ruling runs contrary to President Obama’s message in his recent State of the Union address where he called for an “all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy.”
HATCH: “The BLM’s decision is yet another assault on American energy production and the jobs that come with it. By cutting back the original oil shale and tar sands development lands by 75 percent, the Administration has made it clear that instead of going against their liberal environmentalist allies in an election year, their willing to import more foreign sources of oil and export more American jobs. It’s another failure in leadership from this White House while energy costs and unemployment are both far too high.”
LEE: "In his State of the Union, the President said he wanted to pursue an 'all of the above' energy strategy, but apparently that doesn't include one of the country's most abundant domestic sources. That has to set a land speed record for broken promises. Unfortunately, it will be the American people who suffer, both in lost jobs and in higher energy prices."
MATHESON: “If the goal is to become less dependent on foreign oil, we need more domestic supply, including from untapped sources. New methodology to extract oil from shale is on the horizon in Utah. It should be allowed to compete for commercial development and BLM’s proposed leasing rules are an obstacle.”
BISHOP: “The Department of Interior’s decision to radically reduce BLM lands available for energy production in Utah and other western states illustrates this Administration’s lack of commitment to advance energy independence and jobs in the U.S. The political unrest occurring in many of the oil producing countries, upon which we increasingly rely, could send prices skyrocketing, and it’s hard-working Americans who would be forced to shoulder the burden of rising costs. This doesn’t have to be the case when we have abundant resources located right here in the U.S. that remain untapped, and millions of Americans out of work who would benefit from the subsequent creation of new jobs. Unfortunately, though, we have an Administration that is focused more on reelection and appealing to their special interest group supporters than doing what’s right for the future of this country.”
CHAFFETZ: “President Obama is hostile towards American energy. His decision to shut down oil shale development on public lands inhibits energy independence and economic growth. BLM professionals conducted a three-year, stakeholder driven environmental analysis pursuant to the bipartisan Energy and Policy Act of 2005. This apparently wasn’t good enough for the President. His need to re-review the review is disappointing and is lacking in leadership.”
To view the letter to Secretary Salazar, click HERE. The full text of the letter is below:
February 7, 2012
The Honorable Ken Salazar
United States Department of the Interior
1849 C Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20240
Dear Secretary Salazar:
We write to provide our comments on the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM’s) Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for Oil Shale and Tar Sands. Our strongly held view is that the premise of the PEIS is supported by neither the spirit nor letter of the law, that the alternatives considered by this document are deficient, and that all of the preferred alternatives run contrary to the needs of the nation and of the President’s State of the Union message calling for an “all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy.” The BLM’s stated preference for reducing the available acreage of oil shale and oil sands development by more than 75 percent causes the President’s statement to ring hollow.
Congress enacted the Oil Shale, Tar Sands, and Other Strategic Unconventional Fuels Act as part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (EPAct 2005), which passed with a large bipartisan majority. The law recognized the national strategic importance of developing domestic unconventional fuels and called for an effort by the relevant agencies of this government to “coordinate and accelerate the commercial development” of oil shale and oil sands. That is the spirit and letter of the law. With this announcement, the BLM is pursuing a path that is contrary to the clear intent of the law.
As required by EPAct 2005, three years of intensive studies, widespread stakeholder input, and robust public comment led to a comprehensive report by the Task Force on Strategic Unconventional Fuels and a final Oil Shale Rule in 2008 which set forth 2 million acres of land available for potential oil shale development. We fail to understand why that massive regulatory process, completed by countless government professionals, is being arbitrarily discarded by the BLM. We also cannot discern whereby the BLM has the authority to unilaterally reverse enacted law or to break precedent by willfully failing to offer a No-Action Alternative. Even the BLM’s early announcement that it would revisit the 2008 Oil Shale Rule to consider wilderness characteristics would have been forbidden by the Congressional funding moratorium on the Department of the Interior Secretarial Wildlands Order 3310.
It is well known that the Department of Energy has determined that U.S. oil shale resources are about three times as large as the proven oil reserves of Saudi Arabia. As the world and our President must deal with an increasingly dangerous Middle East, it is unconscionable at this time to retreat from one of America’s greatest potential energy sources, especially when industry has shown the will and the means to move forward.
As you well know, oil shale has been commercially produced and sold competitively in global oil markets for decades. There is no lack of existing technology or data associated with that technology. Moreover, there has already been an impressive level of investment by members of industry ready to bring current and enhanced technology to American oil shale deposits. What is needed is a regulatory atmosphere that encourages this trend. Sadly, it appears that your administration has taken every opportunity to send the opposite signal to this burgeoning industry. The latest move by the BLM to restrict by more than 75 percent the acreage available to possible oil shale research and development would do harm to this industry and our nation’s energy security.
We strongly urge you to bring your department’s actions in line with the current law and the stated goals of the President Barack Obama. Rather than retreat from this important and strategic undertaking, you should take steps to vigorously defend the 2008 Oil Shale PEIS.