Press Releases

LEE: Merger Should be Guided by What is Best for Consumers

May 11, 2011

Today, Senator Mike Lee said the proposed merger between AT&T and T-Mobile to create the largest wireless carrier in the country should be reviewed carefully to ensure the best outcome for consumers. Lee, the Ranking Member on the Judiciary Committee’s Antitrust Subcommittee, said that he favors market approaches to developing mobile networks, but that care should be taken to ensure the merger preserves robust competition nationally and from smaller regional carriers, promotes consumer choices, and encourages innovation.

Lee Backs Balanced Budget Proposal

May 10, 2011

WASHINGTON – Today, Senator Mike Lee spoke in support of a budget proposal that will balance the federal budget over 10 years, save Medicare, enact real tax reform, and put the country on fiscally sustainable path.  Senators Jim DeMint (SC), Tom Coburn (OK), David Vitter (LA), Marco Rubio (FL), Richard Burr (NC), James Risch (ID), and Ron Johnson (WI) joined the measure, principally authored by Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania.  In support of the budget, Senator Lee released the following statement:

“The most important challenge we have as a country is getting our fiscal house in order and Senator Toomey has developed a responsible plan to address it,” said Senator Lee. “While the President has proposed a budget that never balances and creates deficits and debt as far as the eye can see, Senator Toomey’s proposal moves the country in a fiscally responsible direction, balances the budget over a reasonable amount of time, simplifies and reforms our complex tax code, and significantly reduces spending to a manageable percentage of GDP. 

“This budget represents yet another set of good ideas from Senate Republicans while our friends across the aisle have still not offered a budget of their own, despite a legal requirement to submit one.  I applaud Senator Toomey for his leadership and look forward to debating his and other budget plans.”

Lee Statement on President's Deficit Reduction Speech

Apr 13, 2011

WASHINGTON – Today, Senator Mike Lee responded to the President’s speech on deficit reduction:

“While it is encouraging the President has finally decided to participate in the deficit debate, it is disappointing that he has offered a so-called framework that ignores the destructive, burdensome long-term costs of entitlements and reversed his position on increasing taxes on the American people.

“What the President calls ‘savings’ won’t scratch the surface of our annual deficit and, without a plan to balance the budget, the President continues to increase the national debt to unfathomable and irresponsible levels, which threatens our future prosperity.

“His calls to reduce our most bloated entitlement programs by roughly $30 to $40 billion per year are woefully inadequate to address an annual deficit approaching $1.7 trillion.  The President completely ignores Social Security’s contribution to the deficit in the coming years. 

“Most disappointing is that the President no longer believes tax relief is important to protect our economic recovery.  In December of last year, the President said extending the Bush-era tax cuts ‘will spur our private sector to create millions of new jobs, and add momentum that our economy badly needs.’

“Less than five months later, the President’s framework proposes historic tax increases on the very segment of our economy on which we are depending to create those new jobs. 

“This is not just a political flip-flop.  It’s a reversal that will create greater instability in our economy and threaten to turn around the small gains we’ve made in employment. 

“Republicans in Congress have submitted dozens of ideas to reduce our deficit, balance our budget, restrain spending, and create jobs.  Many of us stand willing to work with the President and together make the difficult choices to put the country on a fiscally responsible path. 

“The President has proposed only symbolic spending ‘cuts’ and higher taxes for Americans.  His speech today shows he is simply not serious about real deficit reduction.”

Lee Expresses Comments on DoJ Decision Regarding Google-ITA

Apr 8, 2011

Washington, DC – Today, Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), Ranking Member of the Antitrust Subcommittee of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, commented on the Department of Justice’s decision to impose stringent conditions on Google’s acquisition of ITA Software and reiterated his call for antitrust oversight of Google’s search-related businesses. 

“Today’s announcement by the Department of Justice (DOJ) outlining rigorous conditions for Google’s proposed acquisition of ITA Software is an important step in applying antitrust laws to the company’s predominant position in the realm of Internet search,” said Senator Lee.  “As the DOJ recognized, Google’s unique presence as an Internet gatekeeper raises serious concerns about activities that may limit competition, reduce consumer choice, and thwart innovation.  Continued scrutiny is essential as Google extends its reach into a variety of vertical search markets and online services.  As a member of the Antitrust Subcommittee, I will continue to work to ensure vibrant competition in this and other areas of our economy.”

On March 10, 2011, Senator Lee sent a letter to the Subcommittee Chairman Senator Herb Kohl calling for oversight hearings into Google’s practices that could harm competition, and specifically pointed to the acquisition of ITA Software, which powers sites like Kayak, Travelocity, and Orbitz.

“As you know, the DOJ is in the process of determining whether to approve Google’s proposed acquisition of ITA Software – a deal that could potentially provide Google with the ability to control the travel search vertical market,” Senator Lee wrote.

“Oversight by our Subcommittee is essential in helping free markets flourish in this important area of our economy.  Ensuring robust competition will benefit consumers, spur innovation, and lead to job creation in our nation’s high-tech Internet economy,” Senator Lee added. “Vigorous antitrust enforcement is almost always preferable to a system of government regulations, which will inevitably be more costly and less efficient than a free market unencumbered by anticompetitive restrictions.”

Lee: Lack of Libya Debate "Shameful and Discouraging"

Apr 5, 2011

Along with Senator Rand Paul, Senator Lee recently cosponsored a resolution that stipulated: “The President does not have the power to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”

The quote comes from remarks then-Senator Barack Obama made in 2007.  Today, Senator Paul offered the resolution as a motion to the pending business on the floor and requested just 30 minutes for debate. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid denied the request and only allowed 10 minutes for debate, then sought to table the motion to avoid a vote on it.  The vote to table the motion passed. 

“We channel the war power in the Constitution so as to make sure these discussions always come to the forefront, always be brought up by the elected representatives of the people in Congress,” Lee said on the Senate floor just before the vote. “And for that reason, although we give power to the President to be the Commander in Chief in Article Two of the Constitution, in Article One of the Constitution we reserve that power – that power to declare war to Congress.  

“This is how we guarantee the people’s voice will be heard and that people’s sons and daughters won’t be sent off to war without some public debate and discussion by those who have been duly elected by the people and stand accountable to the people.”

Lee’s remarks were cut short as time expired.  

Lee, Hatch, Senate GOP Back Constitutional Amendment to Restrain Spending

Mar 31, 2011

WASHINGTON – Today, with the full backing of the Senate GOP Caucus, Senator Lee introduced an amendment to the Constitution to balance the federal budget. Sponsored by fellow Utah Senator Orrin Hatch and four others as principle cosponsors, the Hatch-Lee Balanced Budget Amendment is one of the most significant pieces of legislation introduced this year aimed at putting the country on a path to fiscal sustainability.

The central component of the bill states that total spending for the fiscal year must not exceed total receipts and must not exceed more than eighteen percent of the economy, as measured by gross domestic product.

Only a two-thirds vote by the House and Senate would allow Congress to run a deficit for a “specific excess” or raise taxes. Additionally, the amendment stipulates that a three-fifths vote would be necessary to increase the debt limit.

Two other very limited exceptions to the amendment allow spending in excess of receipts during a national security emergency or during a time of war. Three-fifths of Congress would be required to vote for a specific excess during a military conflict declared to be an imminent and serious military threat to our national security; and a just a simple majority vote would be needed during a declared war. The law becomes effective five years after ratification.

“When it comes to spending, Congress has proven it cannot be trusted to live within its means or spend only what the federal government takes in,” said Senator Lee. “Our annual deficit approaching $1.7 trillion and national debt of almost $15 trillion are a significant threat to our economy, job growth, and future prosperity. Only a structural restraint on spending, like a constitutional amendment, will force Congress to make the tough decisions about our national priorities and prevent digging the country deeper in debt.”

Once the bill is voted on and approved by two-thirds of Congress, it must then be ratified by three-fourths of all state legislatures to become an amendment to the Constitution. A bill earlier this year sponsored by Senator Lee expressing support for a balanced budget amendment received 58 votes in the Senate. All 47 Senate Republicans are supporting the amendment.

Communications Director
Brian Phillips
Brian_phillips@lee.senate.gov
(202) 224-5444

Press Secretary
Emily Bennion
Emily_bennion@lee.senate.gov
(202) 224-3904

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Sen. Lee and Rep. Bishop Introduce Land Conveyance Legislation for Mantua, Utah

Mar 30, 2011

WASHINGTON– Today, Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) and Congressman Rob Bishop (R-UT) introduced legislation to transfer three parcels of federally owned land in Box Elder County to the town of Mantua, Utah. Specifically, The Box Elder Utah Land Conveyance Act would convey nearly 32 acres of land that could be used by the community for multiple purposes, including the potential development of a new city cemetery, a new town hall, fire station, park or elementary school.

The parcels of land included in this legislation are located on the south end of town below 100 South and west of Main Street and Willard Peak Road. They are part of a larger tract originally owned by Hans Rasmussen, an early settler of Mantua, whose family deeded the land to the U.S. Forest Service in 1941 for $1.00. Under this legislation, the city of Mantua would not be required to pay for the land, but would assume all costs associated with surveying and development.

It is a testament to the growth of our state and cities like Mantua that this bill is necessary,” said Senator Lee, who sits on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “The city can use the land productively and the federal government has no pressing need for it. With the help of Rep. Bishop, I hope we can move this bill quickly through Congress.

There is absolutely no valid reason why the federal government should maintain ownership of this land, which has sat vacant and virtually unused for decades, when it could otherwise be utilized by the town of Mantua to meet the current challenges associated with its growth and expansion,” said Congressman Bishop, whose district encompasses all of Box Elder County. “The parcels of land we’re asking to have conveyed are relatively small in size but would have a significant impact on the future of this community.

In addition, Senator Lee is also introducing legislation to return forest service land to the town of Alta for a community center and fire station.

Lee Condemns Cowardly Act in Jerusalem

Mar 24, 2011

WASHINGTON—Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) issued the following statement today on the bombing in Jerusalem:

“The senseless murder of an innocent woman and the harm done to more than twenty bystanders is reprehensible andshould be condemned as a cowardly act. It is a reminder that our allies remain targets and, as much as our attention has been directed at domestic affairs, we should stay vigilant in the war against terrorism. The thoughts and prayers of millions of Americans are with the families of those struggling to survive this attack, and our support is firmly behind Israel as they root out those responsible and bring them to justice.”

Lee, McCain Submit Bill to Reduce Ownership of Federal Lands

Mar 17, 2011

WASHINGTON – Today, Senator Mike Lee of Utah and Senator John McCain of Arizona introduced legislation to reduce federal ownership of certain public lands and allow the land to be sold for more productive purposes. The bill directs the Secretary of Interior to dispose of federal lands identified in a 1997 Clinton Administration report deemed suitable for sale. Under this legislation, the amount of land sold would be equal to roughly 1% of all land managed by the Bureau of Land Management, and less than one half of one percent of all federal land. Representative Jason Chaffetz, also of Utah, recently introduced a similar bill in the House.

“It’s been more than a decade since the land was deemed suitable for disposal and there is no critical need for the federal government to hold on to it,” said Senator Lee. “The sale of the land alone could generate more than a $1 billion, and there is further economic benefit of putting the land to good use. That will mean jobs, future growth, and better prosperity for the surrounding areas.”

“It’s good for the state of Utah and I am happy to work with Senator McCain and my fellow Utahn Representative Chaffetz in the House in supporting the move.”

“The federal budget, much like the household budgets of millions of American families, is stretched alarmingly thin in today’s fiscal climate,” said Senator McCain. “Congress must explore all possible avenues for reducing our $1.4 trillion deficit and ballooning $14 trillion national debt. Our legislation aims to reduce the federal estate in a way that’s mindful of how we currently manage our public lands and seeks to dispose land that the federal government simply does not want.”

The bill is titled “The Reducing Federal Ownership of Public Lands Act”.

Bipartisan Coalition of Senators: Stop and Study Proposed Debit Card Rule

Mar 15, 2011

(U.S. SENATE) – Senators Jon Tester (D-MT), Bob Corker (R-TN), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Tom Carper (D-DE), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Chris Coons (D-DE), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Pat Toomey (R-PA) today introduced legislation to protect consumers, small businesses and rural and small community banks and credit unions from a proposed rule regarding transaction fees on debit cards.

“Price controls are almost always problematic,” said Lee, who is Ranking Member on the Judiciary’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights. “If the rule remains in place, retailers, banks and consumers will lose out in the long run through higher costs and limited choices. I believe we can form a better solution that does not unnecessarily burden small businesses and local financial institutions or pass fees on to the customer. The delay in implementing the rule will allow us to find options that benefit everyone.”

The bipartisan coalition of Senators today introduced the Debit Interchange Fee Study Act in response to concerns of the impact of a proposed rule from the Federal Reserve on consumers and small businesses.

The Federal Reserve is proposing a rule that will cap the interchange fee per debit card transaction at 12 cents, regardless of the size of the transaction. Consumer advocacy organizations have raised concerns that this proposed rule will significantly impact consumers because small banks may limit the size of a debit card transaction or end free checking services.

The Debit Interchange Fee Study Act suspends implementation of the proposed rule and calls for a two year study of debit interchange fees.

“The stakes are simply too high to move forward with this rule without a closer look at the impact on consumers, credit unions, community banks, and the small businesses and jobs they sustain” said Tester, a member of the Senate Banking Committee. “That is why we need to make sure we stop and study these proposed rules before implementing anything.”

“The federal government shouldn’t be telling private companies what they can charge for goods and services; that’s price fixing, and that’s exactly what the Durbin amendment does,” said Corker, a member of the Senate Banking Committee. “The hastily passed Durbin amendment will have numerous unintended consequences for debit card users, including reduced access and increased fees. I’m sympathetic to retailers’ concerns and am open to a better solution, but the Durbin amendment isn’t the answer.”

“I’m concerned that the proposed rule dictating debit card interchange fees willhave a harmful effect on consumers, small banks and credit unions,” Carper said. “This legislation will allow Congress and federal regulators to take a thoughtful pause and avoid unintended consequences.”

“The government should not be in the business of setting price controls on any product and implementing this rule would set a precedent for that,” said Roberts. “We need more time to sufficiently review this regulation, because failing to get it right ultimately means it will fall on the backs of consumers, merchants and financial institutions, including our small community banks. And at a time when Americans are watching every penny, we cannot afford to let that happen.”

"The concerns raised by Fed Chairman Bernanke and FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair about the potential harm to credit unions and community banks require further study of the unintended consequences of this rule," Coons said. "Any government regulation of interchange fees should yield some tangible consumer benefit, but the Fed's current cap offers no such guarantee. Further study will help yield a more thoughtful, long-term solution."

A copy of the S. 575 can be found online HERE.