Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Crapo called to serve

Senator appointed to bipartisan committee


By KATHERINE WUTZ
Express Staff Writer

Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, has once again been called by party leadership to help untangle a conundrum involving federal dollars.

Crapo was named Monday to a bicameral, bipartisan conference committee created to devise a plan to extend temporary payroll tax relief and other expiring provisions.

A conference committee is formed of lawmakers from both parties and both houses of Congress to resolve differences over a bill.

Being asked to resolve federal difficulties is nothing new for the senator, who is a member of the Senate Budget Committee and of the President's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform.

Crapo also serves on the so-called "Gang of Six," a bipartisan Senate committee dedicated to finding a compromise on deficit reduction, and has been outspoken in the past about the need to cut federal spending.

Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., cited Crapo's experience in debt and deficit reductions when announcing the senators' appointments Monday.

"These three senators will help lead our efforts to focus on the areas of agreement between the House and Senate approaches to these expiring provisions," he stated in a press release.

Crapo will represent Republican senators on the conference committee along with Senate Republican Whip Jon Kyl, R-Arizona, and Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo.

"These deliberations will be neither easy nor quick, but we need to get these matters under control, get people back on the job and grow our economy," Crapo said in a press release.

Congress extended certain tax reduction measures until Feb. 29.

Crapo voted for a two-month extension of the payroll tax relief on Dec. 17, but voted against an earlier bill that would have extended the relief for the entirety of calendar year 2012. Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, also voted against that bill.

The earlier bill, which was rejected by the Senate on Dec. 1, included a provision that would have established a new tax on individuals making more than $1 million in gross income per year. The 3.25 percent tax would also have been levied on married taxpayers filing separate returns reporting incomes of more than $500,000.

The later bill does not include that tax on those with more than million-dollar incomes. However, it extends certain unemployment compensation benefits through March 2012 and requires the president to make a decision regarding the Keystone XL Pipeline project by mid-February.

The proposed pipeline would run for more than 2,000 miles from Canada to Texas, carrying tar sands oil—natural deposits of petroleum mixed with sand, clay and water—to refineries.

Conservationists, who say the pipeline will have detrimental impacts on wildlife and people living near the refineries, have hotly contested the pipeline.

If the president does not take an action to either approve or deny the permit within 60 days, the pipeline will be automatically approved if it meets all federal and international requirements.

Congress will reconvene in full session on Monday, Jan. 23.

Katherine Wutz: kwutz@mtexpress.com




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