Michael Bradley "Mike" Enzi (; born February 1, 1944) is the senior United States Senator from Wyoming (serving since 1997) and a member of the Republican Party.
Raised in Thermopolis, Wyoming, Enzi attended George Washington University and the University of Denver. He expanded his father's shoe store business in Gillette before being elected mayor of Gillette in 1974. In the late 1970s he worked in the United States Department of the Interior. He served as a state legislator in the Wyoming House of Representatives (1987 1991) and the Wyoming Senate (1991 1996). During the 1980s and 1990s he worked as an accountant and executive director in the energy industry.
Enzi won a tight primary for election to the U.S. Senate in 1996 and was re-elected by comfortable margins in 2002 and 2008. He has been ranked as one of the most conservative members of the Senate. He is the ranking Republican on the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, which he chaired from 2005 to 2007. He was a member of the 2009 Gang of Six which attempted to negotiate a health care reform program.
Early life and career
Enzi was born in Bremerton, Washington, the son of Dorothy M. (n e Bradley) and Elmer Jacob Enzi. Enzi grew up in Thermopolis, Wyoming after his father's return from military duty on the Pacific Coast. He attended elementary school in Thermopolis and graduated from Sheridan High School in 1962. He is an Eagle Scout and a recipient of the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award from the Boy Scouts of America.
Enzi received a degree in accounting from George Washington University in Washington, D.C., in 1966. He is also a member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity and Alpha Kappa Psi business fraternity. He received an M.B.A. in retail marketing from the University of Denver in Colorado in 1968. He also served in the Wyoming Air National Guard from 1967 to 1973. On June 7, 1969, Enzi married the former Diana Buckley; the couple has two daughters, Amy and Emily, and a son, Brad.
Soon after his marriage, Enzi moved to Gillette, where he expanded his father's shoe-sale business, NZ Shoes, which later also featured locations in Sheridan and in Miles City, Montana. As a young business owner, he served as president of the Wyoming chapter of the United States Junior Chamber. Enzi was elected as Mayor of Gillette, in 1974 at the age of 30 and held the position for two terms. He served until 1982, and during his tenure, the city doubled in size. From 1976 to 1979, Enzi worked with the U.S. Department of Interior on energy policy via its Coal Advisory Committee.
Enzi was elected to the Wyoming House of Representatives as a Republican and served from 1987 to 1991. He was then a member of the Wyoming Senate from 1991 to 1996. While a member of the State Senate, Enzi became a vocal opponent of proposals to allow legalized gambling within his state. He served as the primary spokesman of WyBett, an anti-casino group in 1994 http://wybett.vcn.com/. During this time period, he also worked professionally as an accountant with an oil drilling company, holding this job from 1985 to 1997. During the 1990s, he also worked as an executive director with the Black Hills Corporation, an energy holding company that owns utilities and natural gas and coal mining operations. Enzi was also hit from the other side, as constituents criticized him for taking significant campaign cash from the health insurance industry while opposing a public insurance option that would compete with private plans and take a bit out of their bottom line.
Enzi was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 1996. He endured a tough primary challenge during his first campaign, before winning election by an 8-point margin. Enzi won by a very comfortable margin in 2002. He became the senior U.S. Senator from Wyoming when his colleague Craig L. Thomas died on June 4, 2007, from leukemia. His new colleague is fellow Republican John Barrasso, a former State Senator from Casper, whom Enzi, as a then-State Senator himself, only narrowly defeated in the 1996 GOP senatorial primary 33 percent to 32 percent.
Enzi is currently serving his third term in the U.S. Senate which he won with over 76 percent of the vote against Democratic opponent Chris Rothfuss, a professor of political science at the University of Wyoming.
Enzi served as Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions Committee from 2005 to 2007 and following the Democrats; taking control of Congress is now currently the Ranking Member on the committee. On this committee, Enzi has sent to the desk of the President several bills on reform for all of these areas. Enzi was also crucial in the passage of George W. Bush's controversial No Child Left Behind Act.
Enzi was ranked by National Journal as the sixth-most conservative U.S. Senator in its March 2007 conservative/liberal rankings. Despite his strong support of the War in Iraq, he was one of 14 U.S. Senators to vote against the Iraq War funding bill in May 2007 because he opposes the clauses of the bill which increase domestic spending.
On social issues, Enzi is strongly conservative. He opposes all types of abortion and has voted in favor of proposals that would provide restrictions on the procedure for minors, those stationed on military bases, and other groups. He has voted in favor of failed constitutional amendments that suggested banning gay marriage and flag desecration. Enzi also is a strong supporter of gun rights and is ranked very favorably by the National Rifle Association (NRA).
Enzi supports overall taxation decreases and has voted for the repeal of legislation governing such things as the estate tax and "marriage penalty." Enzi is a signer of Americans for Tax Reform s Taxpayer Protection Pledge. He also calls for a partial privatization of Social Security and has consistently voted against measures to expand Medicare or to enroll more children or lower-class individuals in public health care. A strong supporter of the coal industry, Enzi also rejects alternative energy proposals and advocates Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and offshore drilling. He has a somewhat mixed record on trade issues: he has voted to approve most free trade bills but has rejected the Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), one of the largest pieces of such legislation, and is opposed to presidential fast-tracking of trade relation normalization.
Enzi takes a hard-line view on illegal immigration and has been rated highly by groups that support tighter border controls. He has voted in favor of the construction of a fence along the U.S.-Mexican border and against the implementation of guest worker programs. Enzi has voted to uphold the PATRIOT Act and is opposed to calls to cut down on wiretapping and to extend rights to Guantanamo Bay detainees. Enzi has also rejected calls for a timetable for military withdrawal from Iraq.
In 2005, Enzi became the ninth U.S. Senator from Wyoming to ascend to the rank of Chairman on one of the 16 standing committees in the U.S. Senate. Enzi has been a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee since his arrival in the U.S. Senate in 1997.
At the time of his election, Enzi was the only accountant in the U.S. Senate.
Enzi's committee led the first revisions to mine safety laws in 28 years by promoting the use of new technologies to improve mine safety and save lives. During his time as Chairman of the HELP Committee, 37 bills were reported out of the committee, 23 bills passed the U.S. Senate, 352 nominations were reported favorably, and 15 laws came through the committee that were eventually signed by President George W. Bush.
Health Care Reform
Enzi opposed President Barack Obama's health reform legislation; he voted against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in December 2009, and he voted against the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010.
Enzi was one of the Gang of Six senators working to find a bipartisan solution to health care reform. Speaking on the topic, Enzi told the media, "We all want health care reform that will reduce costs, improve quality and expand access without breaking the bank. The bipartisan talks we're having in the Finance Committee represent the best chance we have of achieving our shared goals, and I urge Democrat leaders not to close the door on these productive discussions."
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