Thursday, June 29, 2006

If you attack Americans...

don't worry, we'll defend your 'rights'...
thanks, Nancy!

Burns Provision for Broadband Expensing Added to Tax Package

Burns’ Letter to Senate Finance Committee Brings Action on Rural Broadband Tax Incentive

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Conrad Burns (R – Mont.) won inclusion of an important rural broadband tax provision in a Senate tax package that was reported out of the Senate Finance Committee today. The tax package, a combination of S. 1321 and S. 832, deals with a number of tax provisions, including a provision which will allow expensing broadband service for four years. This provision will make rural broadband more affordable and accelerate deployment across the country.

The explanation by the Joint Committee on Taxation says:
“The proposal provides an election to treat any qualified broadband expenditure paid or incurred by the taxpayer as not chargeable to capital account, but rather, as a deduction. The deduction is allowed in the first taxable year in which either current generation, or next generation, broadband services are provided through qualified equipment to qualified subscribers. Expenditures are eligible for this election only for qualified equipment, the original use of which commences with the taxpayer. The proposal applies for qualified broadband expenditures incurred after June 30, 2006, and before January 1, 2011.”

“Current generation broadband services are defined as the transmission of signals at a rate of at least 5 million bits per second to the subscriber and a rate of at least 1 million bits per second from the subscriber. Next generation broadband services are defined as the transmission of signals at a rate of at least 50 million bits per second and a rate of at least 10 million bits per second from the subscriber.”

The provision would allow individuals and small businesses to expense the cost of broadband service, a technology which faces infrastructure challenges in rural areas.
Earlier this month, Senator Burns wrote a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee urging inclusion of this provision in any future tax legislation. Senator Burns is an original cosponsor of S. 1147, legislation which would permanently amend the tax code to allow broadband expensing. A similar effort was led by Senator Burns in the 108th Congress.

“We need to support rural broadband deployment for both individuals and small businesses, and tax incentives are a reasonable, common-sense way to do that,” said Senator Burns. “I have spent my career in the Senate fighting to make Montana technologically competitive with the larger states on the coasts. We have made measurable progress in telemedicine and distance learning, largely due to great strides in utilizing advanced technology. I support this effort to make rural broadband more available and more affordable for Montanans.”

Senator Burns is a senior member of the Senate Small Business and Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committees, and a former small business owner.

Monday, June 26, 2006

News RoundUp: Senator Burns At Work

June 20 :: June 21 :: June 22 :: June 23
June 19, 2006
SEN. BURNS ANNOUNCES AIR NATIONAL GUARD WILL RECEIVE AIR FORCE GOLDEN EAGLES

Sen. Conrad Burns (R - Mont.) today announced a commitment from the U.S. Air Force (USAF) that they will transfer 18 upgraded F-15 C's, known as "Golden Eagles", to the Air National Guard (ANG) and will upgrade them with Active Electronically Scanned Array Radars (AESA). This transfer represents a major increase in capability for the Air National Guard, including the future compliment of fighters assigned to the 120th Fighter Wing in Great Falls. Currently, almost the entire ANG F-15 fleet is made up of F-15 "A" models, which were built in the 1970's and have received few updates.

This deal between the Air Force and the Air Guard represents a huge step forward for the ANG, which will now receive 18 top of the line F-15 C's with all new, upgraded electronics and bigger engines. The deal also includes reprogramming $73 million to buy advanced radars for that have the capability to shoot down incoming cruise missiles.

"By getting these new fighters to the Air Guard we have helped guarantee a long term future for the 120th Fighter Wing," said Senator Burns. "As we saw on the morning of September 11, our Air Guard fighter force is the last line of defense. I am glad that the Air Force has recognized that the fighters guarding this great nation need the best equipment."

Senator Burns served in the United States Marine Corps from 1955-1957 and is a senior member of the Senate Defense and Military Construction Appropriations Subcommittees.








June 19, 2006

SEN. BURNS HIGHLIGHTS INVESTMENTS IN MONTANA AGRICULTURE

Sen. Conrad Burns (R - Mont.) today detailed progress in securing federal funding for a number of important agricultural projects for Montana, as the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Agriculture will meet tomorrow to consider the fiscal year 2007 Agriculture Appropriations bill. Burns is a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and sits on the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee.

"These federal dollars are an investment in our communities, investments which help sustain our agriculture industry, which is so vital to Montana," said Senator Burns. "They provide much of the seed to get important projects off the ground, and keep them going. Federal investment into research not only brings us new procedures and technology to improve, in this case our Agricultural economy, it helps to create and strengthen jobs in our state. I'm proud of these projects, and I hope Senator Baucus will join me in supporting them when they reach the floor of the full Senate, since he doesn't sit on this particular committee."

Included in the initial mark for the appropriations bill is the Animal BioScience Facility at Montana State University (MSU), with funding to complete its construction. The facility will focus on cutting-edge education, genomics research and outreach. Research at this facility will help keep Montana's herd at the forefront of the livestock industry. In addition, the Ft. Keogh Livestock and Range Research Laboratory in Miles City, Montana received funding to continue applied genomics research in support of the Animal BioScience Facility.

"This is great news for MSU and for agriculture in Montana," said Dr. Tom McCoy, Vice President for Research at MSU. "This new facility will enable us to better train our young people for careers in agriculture and related fields in animal science. It will allow us to pursue research that will help ensure a safe food supply and consumer satisfaction. It will enable us to help stockgrowers, ranchers and others to improve animal health, be more efficient in production, add value to their products and derive a better, more stable income."

In addition, the bill includes the following important Montana projects:
* ATTRA [APPROPRIATE TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER FOR RURAL AREAS] (Butte) -This program, originally created by former Senator Mike Mansfield (D-Mont.) will continue to provide information, education, and technical assistance to producers on a variety of issues, including renewable fuels, alternative energy, and new crop techniques.

* TRI-STATE PREDATOR (Statewide) -Continued funding for predator control in Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming, split based on predator issues and assists livestock predators in managing predation.

* JOE SKEEN INSTITUTE FOR RANGELAND MANAGEMENT (Statewide) - The continuation of the Joe Skeen Institute will be used to develop and sustain livestock management technologies that restore, maintain and enhance rangeland ecosystems that benefit Montana producers.

* GREATER YELLOWSTONE INTERAGENCY BRUCELLOSIS COMMITTEE (Bozeman) - The Committee works to preserve Montana's brucellosis-free status and eradicate brucellosis through testing of bison and operation of a quarantine facility in Yellowstone National Park

* MONTANA BEEF NETWORK (Statewide) - The MBN is a producer-driven partnership to help Montana producers market consistent, source- and process-verified feeder cattle and establish an information network to provide beef production feedback. Demand for source-verified beef is increasing, and the MBN is helping Montana cattle producers capture more value for their product and expand international market access.

* BARLEY FOR RURAL DEVELOPMENT/FEED BARLEY FOR RANGELAND CATTLE (Statewide) - This is a continuation of research funding to develop improved malt, feed and food barley varieties that can be grown by Montana producers in dry land areas. Goal of the project is to help producers make malt more often and improve value for the crop.

* MONTANA SHEEP INSTITUTE (Statewide) - The Sheep Institute funding helps land owners manage the spread of noxious weeds through grazing.

* INSTITUTE FOR BIO-BASED PRODUCTS (Bozeman) - This will be an expansion of the Institute's program of research and development of bio-based products and technologies in order to develop additional uses for Montana crops, commercialize new products, and create new companies/jobs based on such products through technology transfer.

* WHEAT SAWFLY RESEARCH (Bozeman) - Continued research used to improve the economic and environmental sustainability of Montana's wheat production by developing strategies that limit the destructiveness of the sawfly. Sawfly destruction causes millions of dollars of damage to Montana crops.

* BRUCELLOSIS VACCINE FOR BISON (Bozeman) - Continuation of very encouraging research into a brucellosis vaccine and a focus on improvements such as improved delivery, efficacy in cattle, and reduction in components needed.

* VALUE ADDED PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT FROM AGRICULTURAL RESOURCES (Missoula) - The research from this project delves into value-added projects, especially bio-based chemicals and plastics, seeking new markets and uses for Montana crops, including waste material.

* LOCAL EMPOWERMENT PROGRAM (Statewide) - The LEP has been a successful program that makes grants to local entities working on watershed and conservation projects. Previous funding was able to leverage $11 for every federal dollar.

* TRIBAL COLLEGE LIBRARIANS PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT INSTITUTE (Bozeman) - This support from the National Agricultural Library would be used to strengthen tribal libraries across the state.

* NORTHERN PLAINS AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH LABORATORY (Sidney) - Funding is included to continue operations at NPARL, which currently focuses on weed control and irrigated cropping systems for agriculture. In addition, continued support for biological weed control research is included.

* FORT KEOGH LIVESTOCK AND RANGE RESEARCH LABORATORY (Miles City) - As mentioned above, increased funding for applied genomics research at Ft. Keogh is included, along with base funding that will continue operations at this facility. Both NPARL and Ft. Keogh had been targeted for steep budget cuts. Once passed by the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture and related agencies, the full Appropriations Committee is expected to approve the bill. Upon that time, it will go to the full Senate for consideration. Once passed it would then go to a joint House-Senate conference committee to resolve differences in the two versions, the reconciled versions then going back to the respective chambers for final passage, then on to the President for his signature. "This is a good first step for these important projects, but we realize we have a lot of work to do to ensure this funding comes through for Montana," said Senator Burns. Senator Burns is senior member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture and Rural Development.







June 20, 2006

SEN. BURNS SUPPORTS AGRICULTURE APPROPRIATIONS BILL

Today Sen. Conrad Burns (R - Mont.) supported the fiscal year 2007 Agriculture Appropriations bill, which passed unanimously in a markup in the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture. The bill funds the U.S. Department of Agriculture and related agencies, including Rural Development, conservation programs, domestic food programs, foreign assistance programs, and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Additionally, the bill specifically provides funding for broadband and delivers a federal commitment to fuel alternatives. "This appropriations bill underscores what we should be about in rural America, especially in production agriculture," said Senator Burns.

The bill includes $50.750 million for the Distance Learning, Telemedicine and Broadband program for grants and loan subsidy costs which supports a $500 million loan level. "The rural broadband part of this bill holds a great future for our rural towns and cities. It will provide important grant opportunities for Montana to continue improving distance learning, telemedicine and broadband infrastructure. Broadband puts a lot of people to work in rural areas and opens up a lot of possibilities for us."

Senator Burns also noted the important role of renewable fuels development and praised the inclusion of funding for a variety of research and development initiatives. "It underscores the commitment of renewable fuels, which I believe holds a great promise for agriculture, as America works to end its dependence on foreign oil," said Senator Burns. "We can grow our way out of this energy dependence, as long as the resources and the leadership are in place to allow that innovation to happen."

In addition, the bill includes at least 14 important Montana projects, included at the request of Senator Burns. "We look forward to supporting this legislation in the full Appropriations committee markup on Thursday so that we can go to the Senate floor and fight for these projects for Montana," said Senator Burns. "We've passed another hurdle, but our job is not done. I hope Senator Baucus will join me in supporting this bill and my projects when they reach the floor of the full Senate, since he doesn't sit on this particular committee."

Once passed by the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture and related agencies, the full Appropriations Committee is expected to approve the bill. Upon that time, it will go to the full Senate for consideration. Once passed it would then go to a joint House-Senate conference committee to resolve differences in the two versions, the reconciled versions then going back to the respective chambers for final passage, then on to the President for his signature. Senator Burns is senior member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture and Rural Development.





June 21, 2006

SEN. BURNS DEMANDS RELIEF FOR CAPTIVE SHIPPERS

Sen. Conrad Burns (R - Mont.) called for immediate action from federal regulators to address the mounting concerns of rail customers, especially those shippers served by only one railroad, at a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Subcommittee hearing today. The hearing highlighted the growing concern that the lack of rail competition in many markets and the reluctance of the Surface Transportation Board to take action against abuses of monopoly power could have a detrimental impact on economic growth, job creation, and the pocketbooks of consumers. The hearing also demonstrated the widespread support for S. 919, the Railroad Competition Act of 2006, introduced by Sen. Burns. "I am not interested in re-regulating the railroad, but I am interested in captive markets," said Senator Burns. "We were not sent to Congress to stand idly by and oversee a monopoly." Senator Burns requested the hearing to push for rail reform that expands competition for rates and service, specifically in captive markets like Montana. Shippers in Montana are held captive to just one Class I railroad, the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railroad. "One of agriculture's top priorities is to find solutions to the problems caused by massive concentration of the railroad industry and specifically finding relief for our members who are captive shippers," said Dale Schuler, president of the National Association of Wheat Growers President and a producer from Carter. "Because of captivity, the cost of transporting grain can represent as much as one-third of the overall price a producer receives for their grain. This cost comes directly from a producer's bottom line. Agricultural producers believe that both railroads and shippers would be better off with more competition in the marketplace, and many of them support Senate bill 919, which calls for increasing competition without increasing regulation." The hearing included a preliminary report by JayEtta Hecker, Director of the Physical Infrastructure Team at the General Accounting Office (GAO), which is conducting an investigation on freight rail rates, competition, and capacity issues. The GAO is expecting to complete their full report by September. Her preliminary report showed that "shippers that are captive are paying more" than their fair share and that the "rate relief process is largely inaccessible to most shippers." Surface Transportation Board (STB) Chairman W. Douglas Buttrey testified about new initiatives undertaken by the board since he assumed the chairmanship January 5, however he did not detail substantive changes to small rate cases and suggested an investigation in to ways to improve procedures could be complete by this summer. Chairman Buttrey admitted that "capacity is constrained in some places" and the STB favors "private sector solutions" rather than litigation. Senator Burns responded to Chairman Buttrey's testimony by saying, "There's no excuse that this (captive shipper problem) has not been handled yet." Since the bill's introduction, a wide range of industries, small businesses, and members of Congress have joined Senator Burns' fight for reform to a rail system of captive markets. The legislation would address anticompetitive practices in the rail industry that restrict competition, as well as reform the Surface Transportation Board to provide a workable forum for dispute resolution. Additional witnesses included former Congressman Glenn English, Chief Executive Officer of the National Rural Electric Cooperative, John McIntosh, President, Chlor Alkali Products, Olin Corporation, and John Ficker, President of The National Industrial Transportation League. Presenting the side of the railroads was Edward Hamberger, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Association of American Railroads. "The big railroads have failed to come to the table and so we're going to forge on with legislation," said Senator Burns. Senator Burns is a senior member of the Senate Commerce Committee, which has jurisdiction over S. 919, the STB, and rail issues.





June 22, 2006

SEN. BURNS' VET ACT ADVANCES

Today, major components of Sen. Burns' S. 2416, the Veterans Education and Training (VET) Act, were approved by the Veterans' Committee and attached to S. 2694, a separate piece of veterans legislation. The bill is now ready to move to consideration before the full Senate. The VET Act, amended to remain budget neutral, will expand eligibility to accelerated G.I. bill benefits for veterans in the transportation, energy, hospitality, or construction career fields. These four career fields have been identified by the U.S. Department of labor as likely to add large numbers of new jobs or require new job training skills in the coming years. Additionally, the legislation was amended from its original form to take effect Oct. 1, 2007 and sunset September 30, 2011. Senator Burns testified on behalf of this legislation before the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee on June 8. Under the Montgomery G.I. Bill, the Department of Veterans' Administration (VA) currently provides accelerated benefits to assist our service men and women in transitioning to the civilian job market. Through this program, the VA makes short-term, high-cost training programs more attractive to veterans by paying benefits in a lump sum and by covering up to 60% of the cost of some educational programs. However, this program is now only available to men and women who seek training in high-tech programs. "I am pleased this common-sense legislation is advancing in the Senate. I have worked hard to marshal support among my colleagues so we can deliver this job training and education expansion to our veterans as soon as possible. As a veteran, I know we can do better in aiding our brave men and women when they return home from service, transition back to private life and find employment in the career fields where their skills are needed." One specific way this legislation will directly benefit veterans can be seen in job training. For example one standard truck driver training program in Montana lasts 4 to 5 weeks and costs $4,000. Unfortunately, many Veterans are unable to afford this training, even with the $1,034 in G.I. Bill benefits that they may currently receive for this training. However, under the revised accelerated benefits program called for in the VET Act, that same Veteran would be eligible for 60% or $2,400 of the costs of the training. Senator Burns served in the United States Marine Corps from 1955 - 1957 and is a member of the Senate Defense and Military Construction Appropriation Subcommittees.




June 22, 2006

SEN. BURNS TO UNVEIL ST. MARY'S LEGISLATION

On Friday Sen. Burns will introduce major legislation to repair and rehabilitate the St. Mary Diversion Facilities and the Milk River Project, which provide water for Hi-Line communities from Glasgow to Glacier Park.

The authorizing legislation, which falls under the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, represents many months of coordination with the St. Mary's Working Group, an advisory council working to reconstruct the aging diversion facilities. The Milk River Project and the St. Mary Diversion Facilities have now been in operation for nearly 100 years with minimum repairs and improvements.

Together, the St. Mary Diversion Facilities and the Milk River Project, known as the "lifeline of the Hi-Line," affect approximately 70,000 people directly or indirectly and supply municipal water to about 14,000 people. Senator Burns has called St. Mary's the "backbone of the region's agricultural economy providing water to irrigate over 110,000 acres on approximately 660 farms."

"I am pleased to be introducing this legislation tomorrow and appreciate everyone's efforts," said Senator Burns. "Montanans, especially folks along the Hi-Line, know the St. Mary Diversion Facilities are facing catastrophic failure as maintenance costs have increased with the accelerating deterioration of the aging facilities. We are committed to fixing this problem. Over many months, my office has worked closely with the St. Mary Working Group to develop legislation to address this issue. This project is my number one priority for this year."

Senator Burns is senior member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources and Appropriations Committees, the committees which will handle both the authorizing and funding for this project.






June 22, 2006

SEN. BURNS SUPPORTS COAL TO LIQUID FUEL BILL

Today Sen. Conrad Burns (R - Mont.) joined Sens. Jim Bunning (R - KY) and Kit Bond (R - MO) at a press conference to advocate for S. 3325, the Coal-to-Liquid Fuel Promotion Act of 2006. This bi-partisan bill will create tax incentives for coal-to-liquid (CTL) technology and the construction of CTL plants, making CTL a viable energy resource if passed.

"This legislation gives us independence from foreign sources of fuel, it ensures that our national security and that our military will have the fuel they need and also tax credits," said Senator Burns. The legislation is expected to be considered in a hearing in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, of which Senator Burns is a member, in the coming weeks. Specifically, this legislation will expand the 20% tax credit for CTL plants (including the infrastructure needed to capture, transport and sequester carbon) capped at $200 million per plant and limited to 10 plants. It will also provide a similar provision for expensing these investments, but does not allow double dipping. Additionally, it will extend the fuel tax credit for CTL products from 2009 until January 1, 2020.

If we use coal effectively, "We can make a cleaner diesel than we can from petroleum," said Senator Burns. "I think what we are looking for is something that will help the environment and still power the economy of this country." Montana has the largest coal reserves of any state in the country. Senator Burns is a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.








June 22, 2006

SEN. BURNS: SUPPORT FOR SANCTIONS AGAINST JAPAN GROWING

Today Sen. Conrad Burns (R - Mont.) successfully added an amendment to the fiscal year 2007 Agriculture Appropriations bill which expresses Senate support for authorizing the U.S. Department of the Treasury to levy up to $3.14 billion in economic sanctions against Japan if the beef embargo continues through the summer.

"It's time we open those doors," said Senator Burns. "Japan has been jerking us around with another stalling tactic. It's time they open the market." The Japanese beef embargo is estimated to cost the United States agriculture industry $7 million per day. Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi will visit the United States next week.

Apart from the Japan amendment, the Senate Agriculture Appropriations bill includes funding to complete the construction of the Animal BioScience Facility at Montana State University (MSU). The facility will focus on cutting-edge education, genomics research and outreach. Research at this facility will help keep Montana's herd at the forefront of the livestock industry. In addition, the Ft. Keogh Livestock and Range Research Laboratory in Miles City, Montana received funding to continue applied genomics research in support of the Animal BioScience Facility.

"This is great news for MSU and for agriculture in Montana," said Dr. Tom McCoy, Vice President for Research at MSU. "This new facility will enable us to better train our young people for careers in agriculture and related fields in animal science. It will allow us to pursue research that will help ensure a safe food supply and consumer satisfaction. It will enable us to help stockgrowers, ranchers and others to improve animal health, be more efficient in production, add value to their products and derive a better, more stable income."

In addition, the bill which was reported out of the full Senate Appropriations Committee today, including at least 14 important Montana agriculture projects in Bozeman, Butte, Missoula, Sidney, and Miles City and statewide projects. Now that the Senate Appropriations Committee has approved the bill, it will go to the full Senate for consideration. Once passed it would then go to a joint House-Senate conference committee to resolve differences in the two versions. Finally, the reconciled versions then go back to the respective chambers for final passage, then on to the President for his signature.

"We look forward to supporting these important projects for Montana, but our job is not done. I hope Senator Baucus will join me in supporting this bill and my projects on the Senate floor." Senator Burns is senior member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture and Rural Development and a former Agriculture broadcaster.




June 22, 2006

SEN. BURNS AMENDMENT SAVES MISSILES

Today Sen. Conrad Burns (R - Mont.) successfully won passage of an amendment to delay a Defense Department (DOD) plan to cut our intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) force by 50 missiles, as S. 2766, the Defense Authorization bill, passed in the Senate 96-0.

The Burns-Conrad amendment makes it the policy of the United States that the 500 ICBMs that the United States possesses in the three missile states (Wyoming, North Dakota, and Montana) may not be decreased to 450 for this year. It also requires the U.S. Air Force to complete a report for the Congress justifying the need for decreasing the missile level as part of our strategic defense posture.

Earlier this year the DoD produced a recommendation as part of their Quadrennial Defense Review to reduce the ICBM force by 50 missiles. The DoD intends to reduce the force by eliminating one squadron at Malmstrom AFB near Great Falls, Montana.

"We were successful in delaying this unwise decision by one year and requiring DoD to better explain why this is needed," said Senator Burns. "From the beginning we felt that this proposal was more about cutting the budget than revising our strategic policy. At a time when we are focused on fighting terrorism and securing our nation I think it is more important to secure these missiles than to start eliminating them."

The Burns-Conrad amendment also includes $5 million for the Remote Visual Assessment program (RVA) which will put security systems at missile silos. Senator Burns served in the United States Marine Corps from 1955-1957 and is a senior member of the Senate Defense and Military Construction Appropriations Subcommittees.





June 22, 2006

DEFENSE BILL INCLUDES IMPORTANT AMENDMENT FOR FORT HARRISON

Today Sen. Conrad Burns (R - Mont.) successfully passed an amendment that will likely bring additional special forces to Fort Harrison in Helena as part of S. 2766, the Defense Department (DOD) Authorization bill, which passed 96-0.

This amendment, cosponsored by Senator Burns, emphasizes the importance of National Guard and Reserves in our Special Operations forces by calling for a report of how additional Guard and Reserve units should be established as part of QDR recommendations to significantly increase the size of Special Operations.

In addition, the amendment points to high-altitude, mountain training in Montana and directs DOD to consider establishing a Special Forces detachment in Montana. "Special forces love to come to Fort Harrison to train, and we need a permanent Special Forces detachment to facilitate that training," said Senator Burns. "We know that the National Guard and our Reserve forces can be better utilized, and I believe they can be trained and stationed at Fort Harrison," said Senator Burns.

"Montana is one of the few states without National Guard Special Forces units. This amendment will kick-start the process of getting Special Forces in the Montana National Guard." Senator Burns also successfully protected Montana military personnel and infrastructure with a Burns-Conrad amendment that makes it the policy of the United States that the 500 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) that the United States possesses in the three missile states (Wyoming, North Dakota, and Montana) may not be decreased to 450 for this year.

"We were successful in delaying this unwise decision by one year and requiring DoD to better explain why this is needed," said Senator Burns. "From the beginning we felt that this proposal was more about cutting the budget than revising our strategic policy. At a time when we are focused on fighting terrorism and securing our nation I think it is more important to secure these missiles than to start eliminating them."

Senator Burns served in the United States Marine Corps from 1955-1957 and is a senior member of the Senate Defense and Military Construction Appropriations Subcommittees.




June 22, 2006

DEFENSE BILL PASSES SENATE; INCLUDES KEY VETERANS LEGISLATION REGARDING FUNERALS, TRI-CARE, SBP-DIC, CONCURRENT RECEIPT

Today Sen. Conrad Burns (R - Mont.) rejected two amendments to require troop pullout of Iraq as part of S. 2766, the Defense Department (DOD) Authorization bill, which passed 96-0.

Senator Burns and nearly the entire Senate rejected an amendment by Senator John Kerry (D - MA) to require a complete pullout of U.S. soldiers from Iraq by July 7, 2007. The Kerry amendment failed in a 93-6 vote.

A similar effort led by Senator Carl Levin (D - MI) would have required the President to submit to Congress a plan for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, but that amendment failed 60-39. Senator Burns opposed both amendments.

"Once again, we must carry out the mission in Iraq," said Senator Burns. "A deadline for removal would endanger the lives of troops already in Iraq, and would only further the resolve of the insurgents there."

The DOD Authorization bill contained a number of provisions that were critical to veterans, including successful passage of Senator Burns' military funerals bill, which will compensate veterans who serve in funeral honor guards. Additional amendments cosponsored by Senator Burns decreased the reserve retirement age, expanded concurrent receipt benefits for unemployed veterans, opposed TRI-CARE prescription fee increases, and allow payment of both survivor benefit plans and dependency indemnity compensation (SBP-DIC) concurrently. It is estimated that about 55,000 recipients of these benefits would have received both DIC and SBP benefits in full, rather than having one offset the other.

Senator Burns also successfully protected Montana military personnel and infrastructure with a Burns-Conrad amendment that makes it the policy of the United States that the 500 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) that the United States possesses in the three missile states (Wyoming, North Dakota, and Montana) may not be decreased to 450 for this year.

"We were successful in delaying this unwise decision by one year and requiring DoD to better explain why this is needed," said Senator Burns. "From the beginning we felt that this proposal was more about cutting the budget than revising our strategic policy. At a time when we are focused on fighting terrorism and securing our nation I think it is more important to secure these missiles than to start eliminating them."

Senator Burns served in the United States Marine Corps from 1955-1957 and is a senior member of the Senate Defense and Military Construction Appropriations Subcommittees.



June 23, 2006

SEN. BURNS INTRODUCES HISTORIC ST. MARY'S REHABILITATION LEGISLATION

On Friday Sen. Conrad Burns (R - Mont.) introduced the "St. Mary Diversion and Conveyance Works and Milk River Project Act of 2006." This historic legislation, if passed, will authorize major repairs for the reconstruction project along the Hi-Line. The bill will be referred to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, of which Senator Burns is a member.

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Pete Domenici (R - NM) has agreed to conduct a field hearing regarding the legislation, in Montana. It will then need to be reported out of the committee and voted on by the full Senate. The authorizing legislation represents many months of coordination with the St. Mary's Working Group, an advisory council working to reconstruct the aging diversion facilities.

"We've been in constant contact with the irrigators, the Fort Belknap and Blackfeet tribes, and local governments, as well as the State of Montana, to deliver the best legislation possible to repair St. Mary's. There is a sense of urgency, due to the disrepair of the system and we need a plan in place before a catastrophic failure occurs," said Senator Burns. "I'm proud of our efforts so far, and I am fully committed to passing this legislation and securing funding to get the project started as soon as possible."

Senator Burns has also made an appropriations request for fiscal year 2007, which begins October 1, 2006, to begin the repair of the project. The funding request falls under the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, of which Senator Burns is a senior member.

The Milk River Project and the St. Mary Diversion Facilities have now been in operation for nearly 100 years. During this time, the repairs have been minimal, pushing the system into disrepair. Together, the St. Mary Diversion Facilities and the Milk River Project, known as the "lifeline of the Hi-Line," affect approximately 70,000 people directly or indirectly and supply municipal water to about 14,000 people. Senator Burns has called St. Mary's the "backbone of the region's agricultural economy."

"This project is my number one priority for Montana," said Senator Burns, "I will do everything that I can to ensure that we get this done." Senator Burns is senior member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources and Appropriations Committees, the committees which will handle both the authorizing and funding for this project.

Friday, June 09, 2006

In case anyone wonders...

Yes! This IS the Conrad Burns cheering section!
I'm just posting the news that rarely makes it past the newsdesk--you know, the press releases full of sources and ways to verify facts...which, for some reason, seem to slip the attention of the mainstream media, even here in our one-horse town Now imagine that!

Yep, they're press releases, written by folks that I suspect are natural reporters. They are not posted in order of dated release, but, rather, in the order I read them. Just for fun, compare these releases with the Trib or other MSM outlet's report:

Burns Votes to Kill the Death Tax : Jun 8
Burns Supports Marriage Protection Amendment to the Constitution : Jun 7
How Would Jon Vote? : Jun 7
United States Senator Conrad Burns’ statement on winning the primary : Jun 8
When Liberals Attack : Jun 9

Feel free to comment, question, post some self-righteous democrat's response...but, please, keep the derogatory remarks to a minmum

for more info on 2006 election:
check out http://rightmontana.blogspot.com/ for fact-checking and discussion
check out http://ecityblog.blogspot.com/ for sparring over law and local issues

How Would Jon Vote?

Newly Minted Senate Candidate Faces First Vote

Jun 7
(Billings) The U.S. Senate nears a vote today that would define marriage as between one man and one woman. Conrad Burns will vote to defend traditional marriage. As federal and state courts strike down bans on gay marriage across the country, a federal solution is required.

How would newly minted Democrat nominee Jon Tester vote? Would he stand with Montana which overwhelming defended traditional marriage in 2004? Or will he stand with Ted Kennedy and Hillary Clinton who are opposed to the bill?

On Yellowstone Public Radio and Montana Public Radio earlier this month, Jon Tester said he would vote against a marriage protection amendment. Tester has a history of not answering questions on upcoming Senate votes. He refused to say how he would have voted on the Senate’s immigration bill.

“Montana deserves a United States Senator who represents its values, not the values of New York and Massachusetts. Montanans do not support gay marriage, does Jon Tester?”
Media Contact: Burns Campaign Spokesman Jason Klindt.

**THANKS, Mike

When Liberals Attack

Does Jon Tester Agree with his liberal friends from New York?

Jun 9
(Billings) U.S. Representative Gary Ackerman (D-NY) today opened up an unusual and personal attack on Montana Senator Conrad Burns. Burns has introduced common sense legislation that would bar illegal aliens from being counted as citizens in the US Census. Counting illegal aliens pads the number of representatives in states like…you guessed it, New York. If illegal aliens were not counted as citizens, then Montana would have another seat in the US House of Representatives.

Ackerman wondered aloud in a letter to his colleagues whether or not Burns really was a person. In fact, Ackerman went so far as to suggest that Burns didn’t deserve to count as a person in the census.

“We may as well take this provision to its logical conclusion by barring those individuals who introduce such legislation from being counted as ‘persons’ themselves.”

The real question is does Jon Tester agree with liberal Gary Ackerman that we should count illegal aliens in the census? Or does he agree that New York should get extra seats it doesn’t deserve in the US House? If not, then he should denounce this naked personal attack from the far left wing.

That may be hard to do though since the DSCC run by…you guessed it, New York Senator Chuck Schumer is funding his campaign.

“Montana deserves a United States Senator who will stand up for Montana’s values. Jon Tester is a pawn of that national party and will do whatever Chuck Schumer tells him too.”
Media Contact: Burns Campaign Spokesman Jason Klindt

**THANKS, Mike

Burns’ Campaign Leading the Way in Campaign Disclosure

Jun 8
Billings- US Senator Conrad Burns called on his newly minted Democrat opponent to join him in giving Montanan’s unparalleled access to information about his campaign contributions. The Burns’ campaign began posting $500 and above donors on its website in March.

“It’s time for Jon’s campaign to match his rhetoric,” said Sarah Pompei, Burns’ Spokeswoman. “Our campaign is leading the way in campaign disclosure and there is no reason why Jon should not join us.”

Tester’s own ethics plan lists the virtues of increased disclosure. Allowing people to see who is contributing to each campaign will allow Montanans to know more about the candidates and their campaigns.

We know that Tester will have no trouble bringing in money to fund his Senate campaign. As the DSCC made clear yesterday, “Tester will have ‘all the money he needs.’” (Associated Press, June 7, 2006)

“If Jon truly believes what he says he will join us,” said Pompei. “If not, it’s because he is trying to hide his east coast liberal money behind a veil of secrecy.”

You can view Burns’ disclosure at http://www.conradburns.com/.
Media Contact: Sarah Pompei, (406) 656-9999

**THANKS, Mike

Bob Keenan Endorses Burns Republicans Unite for the General Election

Jun 9
State Senator Bob Keenan released this statement today:

"I got into this election to give Montana voters a real choice this June. I am proud of the campaign I ran and the number of Montanans who supported me. Today, however the time for family disagreements has ended.

Voters will face a real choice this fall between a committed conservative and a true liberal. We as a party must work together to ensure victory. I will do everything I can to make sure that Conrad Burns is returned to the Senate.

Keeping Republican control in the United States Senate is important. The national Democrats agenda of higher taxes, a cut and run policy in the war on terror and supporting activist judges is not in line with our values.

Suzie and I have known Conrad and Phyllis for a very long time. We will always be friends and we look forward to joining them on the campaign trail this fall."


Burns thanked Keenan for his support:

"I appreciate Bob Keenan’s support, friendship and commitment to the Republican party. He ran a good campaign and I am a better candidate for it. Like Bob, I know that this fall is going to be a battle. Republicans will win if we stand together."

United States Senator Conrad Burns’ statement on Jon Tester’s Nomination Tonight by Democrats

Jun 7
“I want to welcome Jon tonight to the race officially. It was a hard-fought battle in their primary. It is time now for each of us to provide the voters with our positions on the issues and how we would vote on the key issues in the Senate. Elections are about choices in philosophy and how you stand on the issues.

So as the Senate considers issues in the upcoming months, I call on you to say how you would vote on bills and nominations. You are applying for a job and Montanans have a right to know how we stand on the issues.

Tomorrow, I’ll vote to define marriage as being between one man and one woman. In the coming weeks we will talk about the Death Tax and banning flag burning. These are all important issues and Montanans deserve to know how you would vote.

I have already agreed to a pair of debates and I hope that there will be a series of them. There are honest issues between our two parties and we ought to talk about them. I look forward to a vigorous and clean campaign that will make all Montanans proud.”
Media Contact: Jason Klindt

**THANKS, Mike

United States Senator Conrad Burns’ statement on winning the primary

June 7
“I want to thank my opponents, especially Bob Keenan for a spirited Republican primary. I want to thank the Montanans who have stood with me. And, I want to thank those who didn’t vote for me, but have shown their commitment to supporting Republican candidates. The message is loud and clear, Montanans want conservative values represented in the United States Senate.

I know that reading the paper everyday has been hard on Republicans over the last 6 months. This election started early with some false attacks and mudslinging. As your Senator, I want you to know that I have done nothing wrong and I intend to continue to vigorously defend my record. And I want to thank you for the opportunity to set the record straight in the months ahead.

As a party, we have a choice. We can stand together and fight Democrats at every level. Or we can retreat and say that it’s too messy. I am going to stand and fight, because it’s too important.

We have an opportunity to take back the House and Senate from Democrats who are spending the surplus that Republicans gave them. We can re-elect Denny Rehberg to the US House and we may be the deciding vote for who controls the United States Senate.

We want judges who interpret the Constitution, not rewrite it. We want less taxes, not more. We do not want amnesty for illegal immigrants. We stand for private property and the second amendment. Those are our values and believe me, Ted Kennedy and the boys back east don’t share them.

That will require us to stand together. Stand with me and let’s fight for what we believe in. Stand with me, because we are right and we can win.”
Media Contact: Jason Klindt

**THANKS, Mike

Burns Supports Marriage Protection Amendment to the Constitution

Jun 7
Must Restrict Activist Judges from Ideological Rulings Against Overwhelming National Opinion

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Conrad Burns (R-Mont) voted in support of the Marriage Protection Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, defining marriage officially as it has always been in this country, between one man and one woman.

The amendment, co-sponsored by Burns and introduced by Senator Wayne Allard (R-CO), simply states:

Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.

The amendment failed to advance on a vote of 49-48.

Senator Burns explained his vote by saying, “I am generally hesitant to amend the Constitution; there are few things as permanent as a constitutional amendment, and it is something that clearly should not be done lightly. However, when activist judges repeatedly take steps to overrule the clear voice of a majority of the people, we are left with very few options. As we have seen over the past several years, federal and state judges have time and time again struck down traditional marriage protections laws – laws overwhelmingly approved by voter ballot initiatives. This is simply unacceptable, and that is why I voted in favor of the Marriage Protection Amendment. It is the only way to ensure that traditional marriage laws approved by the voters in a majority of the states are protected.”

In 1997, the Montana Legislature passed a state law defining marriage as between a man and a woman. Then in 2004, the people of Montana approved a ballot initiative by 67 percent, which amended the Montana Constitution to state: “Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state.” Nationally, 19 states have adopted similar state constitutional amendments, and 26 more have statutes designed to protect traditional marriage.
Media Contact: derek_hunter@burns.senate.gov

**THANKS, Sarah!

Burns Votes to Kill the Death Tax

Jun 8
Tax on Family Farms, Small Businesses Will Return in 2011 without Congressional Action

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Conrad Burns (R – Mont.) today voted to advance an effort to permanently repeal of the death tax, H.R. 8. The measure failed in the Senate by a vote of 57-41, falling short of the 60 votes needed.

“I am extremely disappointed that we will not be able to provide relief for Montana’s small businesses, ranchers and farmers who bear an unfair tax burden because of the death tax,” said Senator Burns. “Our farmers and ranchers in Montana know when land appreciates, their value rises significantly, and often without any physical changes. Farms and ranches are valuable on paper but often cash poor and when the death tax comes due it is not welcomed. No one should have to sell the farm to save the farm.”

“All too often politicians give lip service about keeping family farms and ranches sustainable,” said Bill Donald, President of the Montana Stockgrowers Association. “This is Congress’s opportunity to prove they actually mean what they say. Senator Burns has proven he is part of the solution and I ask other members of Congress to do the same.”

“The death tax makes it easy for wealthy people to come into a rural area and buy family farms and ranches,” said Bob Hanson, Vice President of the Montana Farm Bureau Federation. “It makes it difficult to pass that same property on to the next generation of producers. In addition to the tax itself, there is the added cost of constantly maintaining up to date estate planning. We appreciate Senator Burns’ vote on the estate tax – he has been a leader in trying to help rural Montanans keep their family business in the family.”

“As I’ve recently had to deal with inheriting a ranch and then paying a huge tax bill, I know the pain of the death tax,” said Phil Rostead, a member of the Montana Stockgrowers Association. “The ranch doesn’t generate the cash flow to pay the taxes, so a portion of my ranch is for sale, and a portion has already been sold just to cover the death taxes. We need to eliminate the death tax so we don’t wind up selling our fourth generation ranches to wealthy out-of-staters. Senator Burns really understands this dilemma and is a supporter of correcting these inequities.”

The most recent, available Internal Revenue Service (IRS) figures show that Montanans paid over $35 million for the death tax in 2004 alone. Nationally, the amount Americans paid for the death tax in 2004 was over $21 billion.

“Our small business owners understand that owning expensive equipment to run your business does not make you rich,” said Senator Burns. “However, the IRS treats taxpayers as if they are rich based solely on the value of the business. Forcing a small business to pay an unreasonably high tax undermines job creation and innovation.”

Senator Burns has consistently voted to repeal the death tax in his career, including one such vote in 2000, two in 2002, and one in 2003.

According to the federal tax code, the death tax can be as high as 55 percent on the value of assets. Unless Congress acts to repeal the death tax permanently, death tax reductions include in the tax relief we passed in 2001 and 2003 will be eliminated, making the maximum tax rate 55 percent in 2011.

Critics of the death tax repeal call it a tax on the wealthy. However, Senator Burns believes the wealthy can afford to hire accountants to shield most of their assets and investment income from the Internal Revenue Service, and as a result, face a less burdensome tax on a decedent’s estate. “Working Montanans cannot afford the death tax, let alone costly accountants, tax attorneys, and estate planners necessary to manage the federal tax obligation they would likely pay,” said Senator Burns.

Senator Burns is senior member of the Senate Small Business and Commerce, Science and Transportation Committees and former small business owner.
Media Contact: matt_mackowiak@burns.senate.gov

**THANKS, Sarah!