Your Congressional update

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Impeachment isn’t the only business of the day in our nation’s capital.

The Coeur d’Alene Press is following the otherwise-normal legislation in Congress. Each week, we will update readers with tidbits of news from North Idaho’s representatives in Washington, D.C.

Sen. Jim Risch

On Thursday, Risch voted with 88 of his colleagues to approve the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. The new deal — negotiated since 2018 after President Donald Trump made good on a campaign promise and pulled the United States from the North American Free Trade Agreement in 2017 — updates arrangements on digital trade and intellectual property, two economic factors largely unaddressed since NAFTA was originally signed into law in 1994.

“In 2018, Idaho exports to Canada and Mexico totaled more than $1 billion,” Risch said. “The USMCA will provide Idaho producers and innovators with open markets, free and fair trade and much-needed certainty.”

The deal now goes to the Oval Office, where Trump is expected to sign the bipartisan agreement, which received overwhelming bipartisan support by both the Senate and the House.

“This is a good thing for America,” Risch said. “It needs to get done.”

Sen. Mike Crapo

and Rep. Russ Fulcher

Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo announced Thursday a surge in support for legislation aimed at providing easier record access to families of missing veterans, while Rep. Russ Fulcher introduced a companion bill in the House.

The Bring Our Heroes Home Act provides a pathway for families of missing veterans to more easily obtain records regarding their loved ones.

Crapo, along with Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., has gained 11 additional co-sponsors in the Senate since it was introduced in November.

The bill would ensure that all Missing Armed Forces Personnel records are accounted for by the executive agencies in possession of them, quickly reviewed by an independent review board to determine if they may be declassified and deposited into a collection at the National Archives for families to easily access.

The bill would also establish a missing armed forces personnel records collection at the National Archives and require executive agencies to identify, locate and transmit any missing armed forces personnel records in their possession to the National Archives for placement in the collection. Any record that an executive agency attempts to withhold because it contains classified information would be sent to a review board. Classified documents would face greater scrutiny before their release.

Fulcher’s companion bill was officially introduced to the House floor Sunday with New Hampshire Rep. Chris Pappas, though it was read Thursday on the House floor. Companion bills in both the House and Senate often make for swifter, smoother passage if approved. No vote has yet been scheduled.

“The introduction of the Bring Our Heroes Home Act in the House of Representatives signals to families and survivors that their loved ones who sacrificed so much in service to our nation will not be forgotten or left behind,” Crapo said. “I thank Reps. Pappas and Fulcher for their support of this important legislation, and look forward to working with them and Sen. Shaheen to get this bill through Congress.”

“… Proud to introduce the Bring Our Heroes Home Act with Rep. Chris Pappas,” Fulcher said in a statement, “to ensure family members can obtain the records of American service members listed as prisoners of war or missing in action.”

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