Senator Mike Lee and the Utah League of Cities and Towns hosted the first annual "Constitution Bowl" on Friday, September 14, testing the knowledge of teams from four local high schools on topics related to the U.S. Constitution and government. The event was held in honor of the 225th Anniversary of the U.S. Constitution and to get students talking about the country’s founding document.
Today, Americans celebrate the 225th Anniversary of the signing of the Constitution – that enduring document that guarantees the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that our Founders envisioned at the birth of our nation.
First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with the families and colleagues of Ambassador Chris Stevens and the three other Americans killed in Libya.  The events and tragedies over the last 48 hours in Egypt and Libya remind us that the values we hold dear in America are constant targets in the most dangerous parts of the world.

The Administration’s response has been a mixed message to the world.  At a time when Americans are outraged at the killing of four American citizens, including our chief diplomat in Libya, as well as the destruction of our consulate there, the President appears more concerned with offending the protesters.  His statements have scantly mentioned the need to bring the perpetrators to justice.  And he has not yet given any indication that he is using what leverage he has to demand the full cooperation of Libyan officials to investigate the killings.

More broadly, we must also evaluate the value of our presence in Libya.  After the fall of Qadafi, Americans were right to assume we would have a friend in the newly liberated country.  But progress has been difficult.  There is not yet a fully functional government in Libya.  On July 7, 2012, Libyan voters chose 200 members of a General National Congress (GNC) in the country’s first nationwide election in 30 years. The GNC is now charged with overseeing national government affairs, appointing a new cabinet, and determining the method for drafting a new constitution.  But as we are now painfully aware, whatever form this new government takes, it is not yet capable of protecting our embassy and consulates.  

We should close the consulate in Benghazi and vacate the premises.  America has a clear history on this front. The U.S.withdrew its last Ambassador to Libya in 1972;  a few years later, all remaining U.S. government personnel were withdrawn and the consulate was shut down after a mob attacked and set fire to it on December 2, 1979.  In that incident no one was killed, yet the American response was swift and firm.  A diplomatic presence in Libya was not restored until 2004.Only after the Libyan government has demonstrated the ability to ensure the safety of American diplomats should we reopen a U.S. consulate.  

We also have significant leverage through the funding Libya now receives from the U.S. As of August 2012, the United States government has provided more than $200 million in assistance to Libya since the beginning of the uprising in 2011. If Libya is unwilling to lend its full cooperation to finding the criminals who took American lives, we should cut some or all of the funding Libya receives.

Finally, it is important to remember that a consulate is a diplomatic and policy center, not a military base.  Apart from protecting and removing American citizens, there is no reason to put Marines there.  Absent a defined purpose, time period, and desired result, the United States should not engage in military operations in Libya.   

Libya has the potential to be a great American ally and an advocate of democracy and freedom in the region.  The United States will stand ready to support Libya if these are its aims, but not until it has shown this is the path it will pursue.
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Senator Lee made the following statement regarding the recent settlement of an antitrust dispute between a group of retailers and credit card companies.
 
Consumers benefit when free market forces are allowed to determine prices.  As a result, lawmakers shouldn't interfere with those competitive forces.  Existing antitrust remedies are generally sufficient to address particular instances of anticompetitive conduct and restore competitive balance.  I believe the government ought not be in the business of picking winners and losers in the marketplace, especially since legislation addressing specific allegations of anticompetitive behavior can result in broad and unintended negative consequences.
 
These principles apply to the market for credit cards, including the market for the interchange fees that retailers pay credit card companies and banks for the use of those cards.  Last week’s settlement agreement between Visa and MasterCard on the one hand, and retailers on the other, demonstrates the adequacy of existing antitrust law to remedy alleged anticompetitive behavior.  This settlement was negotiated in an effort to restore competitive market balance and will allow credit card companies and retailers to get back to work serving consumers.

The Historic Decision

Jun 27 2012

In anticipation of the Supreme Court's decision on this historic case, Senator Lee provides his analysis of each of these issues to help Americans better understand the impact that this decision will have on the healthcare system, the limits of Congress' power, the boundaries between state and federal power, and the individual liberties of all Americans.
The farm bill that the Senate is currently considering contains a reauthorization of the Forest Legacy Program. The program uses taxpayer money to pay landowners to not develop their land, acquire land with the specific purpose of not developing it, and purchase “conservation easements” that limit development rights on land with certain “conservation values.”
We can have sensible regulations that keep our air and our water and other aspects of our environment clean. We need those things; we want those things as Americans. We can also have a balanced approach that considers the economic cost of new rules and restrictions on small businesses and on consumers. That's what we need.

Utah currently receives approximately 95 percent of its electricity from coal-fired power plants, and plans are in place to build more.  I stand alongside Senator James Inhofe of Oklahoma in opposition to the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) rule (also commonly called the Utility MACT rule) devised by the Environmental Protection Agency.

This unnecessary and expensive regulation will cost the electric power sector approximately $100 billion, more than all other EPA air rules combined.  The National Economic Research Associates found that the MATS rule would kill as many as 215,000 jobs by 2015. Thus far, 169 coal-fuel electric generating units located across 21 states have had to be prematurely retired due to the threats posed by MATS and other EPA regulations.  Over 27,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity will be retired within the next three years, raising concerns about electric reliability at the local level. 

EPA figures show that more than 99.99 percent of quantified health benefits attributed to the MATS rule are due to reductions in fine particles, not reductions in mercury emissions. The EPA already regulates fine particles under other parts of the Clean Air Act.  Additionally, coal-fueled power plants have already reduced mercury emissions by 60 percent without the MATS rule.

Excessive regulation of the power sector forces coal plants to shut down prematurely which will significantly raise energy prices for Americans. MATS and other EPA regulations increase operation costs for plants, drive up prices for consumers, and kill thousands of jobs. That’s why we need regulation reform, such as the REINS Act, to ensure that all major regulations that significantly affect our economy go through the proper legislative channels before they are made official policy. 

Until then, I firmly support S. J. Res. 37, and stand with a growing bipartisan group of Senators, private sector unions, and business interests who believe we can do better than imposing these kinds of regulations on the American people.


Last week I had the pleasure of meeting Grant Amann from Sandy, Utah. He was in DC to compete in the National History Fair. Every year students from across the U.S. create a project that is fitted to a yearly theme. This year's theme was "Revolution, Reaction, and Reform in History." Grant competed in teh Website category, and created a website that was centered around the creator of the video game: Ralph Baer.