Press Releases

Klobuchar, Lee Call for Review of AT&T’s Proposed Acquisition of DirectTV

May 23, 2014

Washington, DC – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Mike Lee (R-UT) today sent a letter to the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regarding AT&T’s proposed acquisition of DirectTV. In the letter, the Senators urged the DOJ and FCC to assess the impact that the proposed merger could have on consumers, including price, choice, and quality of service. Klobuchar, the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, and Lee, the Ranking Member on the Subcommittee, will hold a hearing to examine the potential acquisition this summer.
 
“This proposed transaction would result in additional consolidation in the market for pay television and may impact consumer welfare in that market and other markets in which the companies operate,” the Senators said in the letter. “As always, the key to analyzing any merger should be the effect it will have on consumers, including price, choice, quality of service, and innovation.”

The full text of the letter is below:
 
Dear Assistant Attorney General Baer and Chairman Wheeler:
 
As Chairman and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy and Consumer Rights, we write regarding AT&T’s proposed acquisition of DirecTV.  This proposed transaction would result in additional consolidation in the market for pay television and may impact consumer welfare in that market and other markets in which the companies operate.  For example, the companies currently compete with each other in 25 percent of the country, including in 10 of the top 20 markets.  In addition, this merger, taken together with the recently announced merger between Comcast and Time Warner Cable, could potentially affect future innovation and technological advances, including the availability of online video distribution.   
 
AT&T and DirecTV state that their merger will create a “competitive alternative to cable for consumers wanting a better bundle of top-quality broadband, video and mobile services, as well as a better customer experience and enhanced innovation.”  The companies further state that increased scale will allow the merged entity to realize cost synergies.
 
As you review this transaction, we believe it is important to validate and weigh these efficiencies against the potential competitive harms that could result from the transaction.  As always, the key to analyzing any merger should be the effect it will have on consumers, including price, choice, quality of service, and innovation.
 
We plan to hold a Subcommittee hearing this summer to examine the important issues raised by this proposed merger and will follow up with you based on the evidence and testimony reviewed during that process.  Thank you for your attention to this matter.
 
Sincerely,

Klobuchar, Lee Statements on AT&T-DirecTV Merger

May 19, 2014

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Mike Lee (R-UT) today released the following statements regarding the AT&T-DirecTV merger. Klobuchar is chair and Lee is ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights.
 
“AT&T's proposed acquisition of DirecTV is yet another merger that has the potential to dramatically change the television market,” Klobuchar said. “As chair of the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee, I will hold a hearing to examine the effect this merger would have on competition, innovation, and the prices, choices, and service offered to consumers across the country.”
 
“The announcement of an additional merger in the telecommunications and media industry raises concerns about the level of consolidation in these markets,” Lee said. “At the same time, consolidation can benefit consumers in some circumstances.  I look forward to carefully reviewing the evidence and examining the effect this transaction may have on consumer welfare.”

Western Caucuses Urge EPA to Halt “Waters of the US" Rule

May 8, 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. –Today, Senator Mike Lee joined Senate Western Caucus Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY) and Congressional Western Caucus co-chairs Stevan Pearce (R-NM) and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY) and 42 other Caucus Members in sending a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy.  
 
In their letter, the Caucus members call on the EPA to refrain from moving forward with their controversial “Waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) rule that will drastically expand federal regulatory authority under the Clean Water Act. The members also highlight how this rule will negatively impact farms, small businesses, energy production, commercial development and substantially interfere with the ability of individual landowners to use their property.
 
“We urge you to change course by committing to operating under the limits established by Congress, recognizing the states’ primary role in regulating and protecting their streams, ponds, wetlands and other bodies of water.  We also again ask that you consider the economic impacts of your policies knowing that your actions will have serious impacts on struggling families, seniors, low-income households and small business owners,”Caucus Members wrote.
 
In addition to Barrasso, Pearce and Lummis, the letter was signed by Senators David Vitter (R-LA), Jim Inhofe (R-OK), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Dean Heller (R-NV), Mike Lee (R-UT), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Orrin Hatch (R-UT),  John Thune (R-SD), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Roy Blunt (R-AR), Jerry Moran (R-KS), Deb Fischer (R-NE),  John Cornyn (R-TX), John Hoeven (R-ND), Mike Johanns (R-NE),  James Risch (R-ID) and Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Representatives Rob Bishop (UT-01), Markwayne Mullin (OK-01), Jeff Denham (CA-10), Mike Simpson (ID-02), Don Young (AK-AL), Walter Jones (NC-03), Matt Salmon (AZ-05), Scott Tipton (CO-03), Mike Conaway (TX-11), Mark Amadei (NV-02), Cory Gardner (CO-04), Jeff Duncan (SC-03), Chris Stewart (UT-02), Paul Gosar (AZ-04), Tom McClintock (CA-04), Kevin Cramer (ND-AL), Devin Nunes (CA-22), David Schweikert (AZ-06), Randy Neugebaurer (TX-19), Raul Labrador (ID-01), Kristi Noem (SD-AL), Doug Lamborn (CO-05), Trent Franks (AZ-08), Paul Broun (GA-10), Mike Coffman (CO-06), Jason Chaffetz (UT-03).
 
The full text of the letter:
May 8, 2014
 
The Honorable Gina McCarthy
Administrator
Environmental Protection Agency
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20460
 
Dear Administrator McCarthy,
 
As members of the Senate and Congressional Western Caucuses, we are contacting you regarding our opposition to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) efforts to significantly expand federal regulatory authority under the Clean Water Act (CWA).
 
We have reviewed the proposed rule that you signed on March 25th and have concluded that the rule provides essentially no limit to CWA jurisdiction.  This is despite the Supreme Court consistently recognizing that Congress limited the authority of the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers under the CWA.  
 
There has been strong opposition to EPA’s approach due to the devastating economic impacts that a federal takeover of state waters would have.  Additional and substantial regulatory costs associated with changes in jurisdiction and increased permitting requirements will result in  bureaucratic barriers to economic growth, negatively impacting farms, small businesses, commercial development, road construction and energy production, to name a few.
 
The threat of ruinous penalties for alleged noncompliance with the CWA is also likely to become more common given the proposed rule’s expansive approach.  For example, the EPA’s disputed classification of a small, local creek as a “water of the United States” could cost as much as $187,500 per day in civil penalties for Wyoming resident Andrew Johnson.  Similar uncertainty established under the proposed rule will ensure that expanding federal control over intrastate waters will substantially interfere with the ability of individual landowners to use their property.
 
We share the concerns expressed by the Western Governors Association regarding the lack of meaningful state consultation in crafting this rule.  The Western Governors stated in a letter to you on March 25th that they –
 
“are concerned that this rulemaking was developed without sufficient consultation with the states and that the rulemaking could impinge upon state authority in water management.”

 
We fail to understand why the EPA has not adequately consulted our Governors about a rule that has such a significant impact on the economy of our states.  For example, rural states in the West have sizeable ranching and farming operations that will be seriously impacted by this rule.  Despite the claim that the Army Corps will exempt 53 farming practices as established by the Natural Resource Conservation Service, the list of 53 does not cover all existing agricultural practices.  There are a number of farming and ranching practices, such as the application of pesticides, that are not covered on this list that occur every day in the West without penalty.  Under this new proposed rule, it appears those farmers and ranchers will need to get a permit or be penalized if they continue to use those non-covered practices in new federal waters.
 
Congress has demonstrated strong opposition to past efforts to have the federal government control all wet areas of the states.  During the recent consideration of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), a bipartisan group of Senators voted 52 to 44 to reject the EPA’s CWA Jurisdiction Guidance, which would have also resulted in effectively unlimited jurisdiction over intrastate water bodies.  Efforts to pass legislation to have the federal government control all non-navigable waters have also failed in past Congresses.
 
We urge you to change course by committing to operating under the limits established by Congress, recognizing the states’ primary role in regulating and protecting their streams, ponds, wetlands and other bodies of water.  We also again ask that you consider the economic impacts of your policies knowing that your actions will have serious impacts on struggling families, seniors, low-income households and small business owners.

Lee Introduces Free-Market Energy Reform

May 1, 2014

WASHINGTON – Today, Senator Mike Lee introduced a bill that restores free-market competition to America’s energy sector by eliminating all tax credits for both renewable and traditional energy sources.  The “Energy Freedom & Economic Prosperity Act” also reduces tax rates to ensure no new burdens are added to the responsible development of America’s energy resources.  Sen. Lee’s bill is a companion to legislation originally sponsored by Rep. Mike Pompeo in the House, which has 34 cosponsors. 

“Washington should not be using taxpayer money to pick winners and losers in the energy industry,” said Lee. “Consumer-driven, free-market competition provides a much better way to ensure Americans have access to reliable, affordable energy. The Energy Freedom and Economic Prosperity Act would level the playing field for all energy producers, forcing them to compete for consumer dollars rather than political favors.”

Congressman Mike Pompeo said: “American families shouldn’t have to subsidize energy companies when they’re having trouble enough paying their utility bills. Companies should have customers, not political patrons. With Sen. Lee’s leadership in the Senate on this important measure, we can eliminate insider deals on energy policy and save money for families across the country.”

The “Energy Freedom & Economic Prosperity Act” has received support from the American Energy Alliance, Americans for Prosperity, Americans for Tax Reform, the Club for Growth, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, Freedom Action, Heritage Action, National Taxpayers Union, 60 Plus Association, and Taxpayers for Common Sense.

Lee’s Opening Statement at Comcast-Time Warner Hearing

Apr 9, 2014

Today Senator Mike Lee delivered the following opening statement in the Senate Antitrust Subcommittee Hearing on the Comcast-Time Warner Cable Merger.

Lee Plans to Offer Amendment to End Comp-Time Discrimination Against Private-Sector Employees

Apr 8, 2014

When the Senate moves to the Fair Pay Act, Senator Mike Lee plans to propose an amendment that would give private-sector employers the ability to offer their employees the option of compensation time or overtime pay.

Lee Files Amendments to Create Jobs, Make Higher-Ed More Accessible, and Improve Work-Life Balance

Apr 1, 2014

WASHINGTON – Today, Senator Mike Lee filed three amendments to a Senate bill being considered this week that would extend the time people have to collect unemployment insurance beyond six months.  The amendments continue Senator Lee’s push to enact solutions to problems in the Obama economy by focusing on job creation, accessibility of higher education and training, and improving work-life balance. 

The first amendment is modeled after Sen. Lee’s Transportation Empowerment Act (S. 1702) and would significantly reduce the administrative and regulatory burdens the federal government places on states’ use of transportation funding.  Under this proposal, states could respond more quickly to the needs of citizens, start and finish projects sooner, and spend less money to complete them – all while creating and maintaining good jobs. 

“Americans aren’t looking for unemployment insurance, they are looking for employment,” said Senator Lee. “The Democrats’ solution is to keep people tied to unemployment programs, rather than addressing the underlying problem.   My amendment would lift unnecessary burdens government imposes and give states and businesses the freedom to invest, grow, and hire more workers.”

The second amendment is built on Sen. Lee’s Higher Education Reform and Opportunity Act (S. 1904), legislation that would open up new educational opportunities for many low-income and non-traditional students.  The bill allows states to set up a new and parallel system for accrediting educational institutions, curricula, apprenticeships, programs, and even individual courses, which are then available to receive federal student loan money. 

“In today’s economy, employers need individuals with specialized skills,” said Senator Lee.  “But the current accreditation system – which drives up costs and leaves behind many non-traditional students, like working parents – acts as a barrier for millions of Americans who need the education and training to fill those jobs.  This amendment would make higher education and training more accessible and affordable to those who need it most.”

The third amendment is based on Sen. Lee’s Working Family Flexibility Act (S. 1623), which allows private-sector employees the same choice between comp time and overtime pay currently enjoyed by government employees.  Currently, federal law unfairly discriminates against these employees by prohibiting the use of comp time, forcing them to sacrifice family time for the family budget. 

“For many families, especially with young children, their most precious commodity is time,” said Sen. Lee. “But today, federal labor laws restrict the way moms and dads and everyone else can use their time. This can lead to tough decisions about how many hours parents can work, or even if they’re able to work at all.  My amendment would make that choice easier and help working families achieve the right balance.”

Lee, Tester Introduce Bill to Ensure Proper Investigations at DOJ

Mar 13, 2014

Today, Senators Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) introduced legislation to increase transparency and accountability at the Department of Justice. The Inspector General Empowerment Act would eliminate a problem in the law that requires allegations of attorney misconduct at DOJ to be investigated by an agency that reports directly to the Attorney General rather than the autonomous Office of the Inspector General.

Lee Introduces Head Start Reform

Mar 12, 2014

WASHINGTON – Today, Senator Mike Lee introduced legislation to reform the early childhood education program known as Head Start.  The Head Start Improvement Act is intended to produce better results by offering states and parents greater flexibility to tailor the program to meet the specific needs of low-income children.  A 2012 study by the Obama administration showed that, despite spending $8.6 billion per year on education, health, nutrition, and other services, the program produced no lasting benefits.

“Underprivileged children need access to good education, and the scientific evidence shows the federal government does a lousy job of providing it,” Senator Lee said. “Education reform should empower principals, teachers and parents, instead of centralizing power and money in political bureaucracies. This bill would allow states, communities, schools, and families to better tailor pre-K programs to the specific needs of each eligible child.”

Confronted with the obvious failures of government programs, many states are already looking at ways to better serve their low-income populations.  For example, the Utah state legislature has created a special task force to study the prospects of “charity care” – affordable medical services for poor families provided not by government but by individuals, businesses, non-profit groups, and local communities.

“The Utah Model might not work in every state, but every state should have the freedom to solve problems their own way, according to their own values and priorities,” Lee added.

 

How it Works:

  • Provides Head Start block grants directly to eligible grantees, which include states, territories and federally recognized Indian tribes.
  • Restores the responsibility to each recipient grantee to define what entities within their state would be eligible to receive sub-grants; award sub-grants to those eligible entities; establish rules and standards for the entities awarded sub-grants; and monitor compliance with state rules and standards
  • Eligible grantees receive an allotment of the Head Start funds in proportion to the number of children aged 5 and younger from families with incomes below 130% of the poverty line residing within their State.
  • Eligible grantees must provide a 20% match to all Federal Head Start funds granted, consistent with current law.
  • All funds must be used for prekindergarten education, administration of the programs, and to provide direct technical assistance, oversight, monitoring, research and training.

 

What it Does:

  • Puts more money in the classroom instead of the Washington bureaucracy
  • Gives states and local officials and parents greater control over improving the Head Start program
  • Ensures the program will better serve the interest of low-income families with young children

Lee, Hatch, Bishop Applaud Approval for New F-35 Hangar at Hill Air Force Base

Feb 26, 2014

The arrival of the F-35 in Northern Utah next year begins a significant new chapter for the Air Force and our state, and having the facilities ready for this delivery is of upmost importance to protecting and maintaining the taxpayer's investment in this weapons system. We are excited that the future of military innovation and technological advancement is continuing to be forged in our state.