Press Releases

Sens. Lee, Klobuchar, Blumenthal Send Letter to DOJ, DOT About Airline Surcharges

Jun 7, 2016

WASHINGTON – Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) sent a letter to Transportation Department Secretary Foxx and Attorney General Loretta Lynch urging them to investigate the potential anti-competitive implications of comments made by Lufthansa CEO Carsten Spohr.

Lee NDAA Amendment Calls for Study of Selective Service Needs

May 26, 2016

WASHINGTON – Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) filed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act Thursday that would strike a requirement that women register for the selective service and replace it with a requirement for the Department of Defense to issue a report on the current and future national security needs by July 1, 2017.

Senators Demand DOJ Cease Investigation Into Opponents of President Obama’s Energy Policies

May 26, 2016

WASHINGTON – Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), David Perdue (R-GA), and David Vitter (R-LA) sent a letter to Attorney General Loretta Lynch Thursday demanding that the Department of Justice end its use of law enforcement resources against political opponents of President Obama’s energy agenda.
 
“These actions provide disturbing confirmation that government officials at all levels are threatening to wield the sword of law enforcement to silence debate on climate change,” the letter reads. “As you well know, initiating criminal prosecution for a private entity’s opinions on climate change is a blatant violation of the First Amendment and an abuse of power that rises to the level of prosecutorial misconduct.”
 
The letter goes on to demand that Attorney General Lynch confirm that all investigations into any private individual’s views on climate change end within 14 days and promise not to initiate any future such investigations.
 
“Threatening prosecution of those who dare to challenge the most outlandish scaremongering by climate activists strikes at the very heart of the Free Speech protections on which this nation was founded,” Lee said. “Issuing subpoenas to harass researchers and academics with whom they have communicated, as some state attorneys general offices have done, shows a basic disregard for Americans' Freedom of Association. The public expects us to prevent such abuses, not perpetrate them. It is our responsibility to contain the inevitable chilling effects by calling for an end to any consideration by the Department of Justice of such harassment at once.”
 
“Freedom of thought and inquiry is at the very heart of liberty,” Cruz said. “Sadly, the Obama administration and its allies in state attorney general offices across the country are threatening to use the power of government to intimidate and ultimately silence companies and researchers who do not agree with the government’s opinions about the allegedly harmful effects of climate change and what should be done about it. This is an abuse of power and a direct assault on the First Amendment. The Obama Justice Department should immediately cease any further consideration of such action and should instead do everything in its power to protect the freedom of thought of all Americans.”
 
“I have serious concerns any time that the Department of Justice uses its power to repress constitutionally protected speech and open dialogue on any public policy issue," Perdue said. "Given the unprecedented politicization of the Obama Justice Department, the Senate Judiciary Committee’s oversight responsibilities have become more important than ever before. There is no place in our democracy for politically-motivated investigations by the Department of Justice.”
 
“Unnecessary government intrusion of private citizens’ lives is an unfortunate characteristic of the reign of the Obama Administration,” Vitter said. “It is contemptible for the Justice Department to target and threaten individual American citizens and private or non-profit organizations in pursuit of its far-left environmental agenda.”

Scientific Debate Shouldn't be Silenced with Threats of Criminal Prosecution

Lee Unveils Article I Regulatory Budget Act

May 25, 2016

WASHINGTON—Today, Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) held an event with Reps. Mark Walker (R-NC), Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), and Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA) to unveil legislation designed to restore direct, accountable congressional control over the federal regulatory system.
 
The Article I Regulatory Budget Reform Act would, for the first time, require Congress to vote on the total regulatory burden each federal agency may impose on the American people each year. It would require a budget for federal regulatory costs similar to Congress’s annual budget for taxes and spending.
 
Under the discipline of a regulatory budget, Congress would be directly responsible for the size and scope of the regulatory state. Executive agencies could still issue and enforce their rules, but only so long as their impact fits within the regulatory-cost limits established by Congress.
 
In addition to Senator Lee, original co-sponsors to the Senate bill include Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). The House version, introduced by Rep. Mark Walker (R-NC), is co-sponsored by Chairman Hensarling (R-TX), and Reps. Dave Brat (R-VA), Mia Love (R-UT), John Ratcliffe (R-TX), and Berry Loudermilk (R-GA).
 
Senator Lee’s remarks as prepared for deliver are available below:

Thank you, Mike. And thanks to all of you for being here. It’s always great to be back at Hillsdale’s Kirby Center, and it’s wonderful to be here with all of you this morning.
 
It was almost four months ago that we gathered here, in front of this inspiring portrait, to launch the Article I Project – a new network of House and Senate conservatives working together on a new agenda of government reform and congressional rehabilitation.
 
The starting point for that agenda is the simple observation that the federal government is broken, and congressional weakness is to blame.
 
But it’s important not to conflate a broken federal government with an inoperative federal government. Likewise, we must be careful not to assume that congressional weakness is equivalent to congressional innocence.
 
Indeed, the problem that we’re here to address today – the problem of our hyperactive Executive Branch bureaucracy writing upwards of 95 percent of all new federal “laws” without winning a single vote in Congress or at the ballot box – was primarily created by the Legislative Branch for its own convenience.
 
At first glance, this may seem counterintuitive. After all, why would Congress willfully relinquish its legislative authority exclusively granted to it by Article I of the Constitution?
 
And more to the point, if the lawmaking powers now exercised by the Executive Branch were not usurped by bureaucratic agents, why is it so common to hear members of Congress rail against the federal bureaucracy and accuse its rule-writing agencies of executive overreach?
 
To understand why members of Congress would intentionally empower bureaucrats to legislate for them, we need to recognize that lawmaking is not just a power – it’s also a responsibility.
 
Legislating is hard work. This was the lesson of the classic Schoolhouse Rock episode, “I’m Just a Bill” – which, I should note for all the young people in the room, is available on YouTube.
 
In the animated video, a walking and talking legislative bill sitting on the steps of Capitol Hill explains to a young boy how laws are made in the federal government.
 
The process amounts to a “long, long journey” through Congress’s parallel committee systems. And it involves a “long, long wait” as members of the House and Senate amend and debate the bill in order to build the consensus needed for a majority to vote for it and send it to the president, who can either sign the bill into law or veto it.
 
Zeroing in on the moral of the story, the boy finally asks, “It’s not easy to become a law, is it?”
 
Nor should we expect it to be. There are 535 members of Congress representing some 318 million Americans living in thousands of communities spread across 50 sovereign states. It’s not easy for a group that large and diverse to agree on anything – let alone what the nation’s laws should be.
 
Legislating is also risky: if, after all that work, your constituents dislike the legislation you wrote or supported, they may vote you out of office the next chance they get!
 
Over the past century, successive generations of elected policymakers in Congress have sought to escape this stringent accountability inherent in constitutional lawmaking.
 
Instead of writing laws containing specific rules of action and distinct standards of legality, most major bills passed by Congress simply establish aspirational guidelines, while delegating to the Executive Branch the power to determine the specifics.
 
For the rule-writing bureaucrats, these open-ended laws are gifts that keep on giving. For instance, in the years since Congress first passed the Clean Air Act in 1977, federal bureaucrats have used the law to enact more than 13,500 pages of regulations – roughly 30 pages for every page of legislative text.
 
But for the American people, this kind of government without consent is a violation of the social compact at the heart of our Republic and exactly why they no longer trust the federal government.  
 
Earning back the American people’s trust is the chief objective of the Article I Project’s agenda to re-empower Congress.
 
And it’s why today we’re introducing the Article I Regulatory Budget Act – a bill that will put the Legislative Branch back in charge of lawmaking and, by extension, put the American people back in charge of Washington.
 
I will let my colleagues dig into the details of the legislation, and I look forward to the input of the esteemed panelists that we’ll hear from later this morning.
 
If you’re interested in learning more about this reform and the ideas behind it, I would encourage you to pick up a copy of the A1P policy brief, “Leashing Leviathan: The Case for a Congressional Regulatory Budget.”

A1P Issue No 3 - Leashing Leviathan: The Case for a Congressional Regulatory Budget by Senator Mike Lee

A1P: Article I Regulatory Budget Act by Senator Mike Lee

Leashing Leviathan: The Case for a Congressional Regulatory Budget

May 23, 2016

WASHINGTON – On Wednesday, May 25 at 10 AM EDT, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) will be joined by Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) and Mark Walker (R-NC) to discuss the Article I Project’s Regulatory Budget Act.

Senators Commit to Oversight of Consolidation in Agri-Chem Industry

May 23, 2016

WASHINGTON—Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT), Amy Klobuchar (R-MN), and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) today issued the following statements in response to press reports of a potential merger between Bayer and Monsanto. The $62 billion deal, which would combine two of the largest companies in crop sciences and agricultural chemicals, comes in the wake of proposed mergers between Dow and DuPont and ChemChina and Syngenta.

Statement from Senator Mike Lee on the 2017 NDAA

May 12, 2016

WASHINGTON – Today, Senator Mike Lee joined two of his colleagues in voting against the FY 2017 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Utah Elected Officials Request Meeting with President Obama

Apr 29, 2016

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Utah lawmakers’ hand-delivered a letter to the White House requesting a meeting with President Obama on potential use of the Antiquities Act to create a national monument in Utah. Before delivering the letter, members of the Utah Delegation met with White House officials to discuss public land issues.

Sentencing Reform & Corrections Act Expands Bipartisan Support

Apr 28, 2016

The revised bill is now cosponsored by a bipartisan group of 37 senators and supported by a broad and diverse array of organizations and interests. In a recent letter of support from the National District Attorneys Association, the largest association of prosecutors in the country, the organization’s president wrote, “As a result of months of changes and good faith negotiations, our organization feels the latest version of the bill strikes the appropriate balance between targeting the highest level drug traffickers plaguing our communities, while simultaneously decreasing crime rates and addressing the burgeoning prison population.” The bill enjoys support from coalitions representing more than 400 groups and organizations across the political spectrum.

Lee, Leahy Comment On House Passage of the Bipartisan Email Privacy Act

Apr 27, 2016

Today’s 419-0 House vote for the Email Privacy Act is an historic step toward updating our privacy laws for the digital age. It should go without saying that law enforcement agents should have to get a warrant to read Americans’ emails or retrieve their sensitive information from the cloud – yet that is not what our statutes currently require.