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Republican

Sen. Michael Enzi (R)

Michael Enzi Contact
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Email: n/a
DC Contact Information

Phone: 202-224-3424

Address: 379-A RSOB, DC 20510

Websites: enzi.senate.gov
Michael Enzi Committees
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Budget (Chairman)
Michael Enzi Biography
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  • Elected: 1996, term expires 2020, 4th term.
  • State: Wyoming
  • Born: Feb. 01, 1944, Bremerton, WA
  • Home: Gillette
  • Education:

    George Washington U., B.S. 1966, Denver U., M.B.A. 1968

  • Professional Career:

    Owner, NZ Shoes, 1969–95; Dir. & chmn., First WY Bank of Gillette, 1978–88; Accounting mgr. & computer programmer, Dunbar Well Service, 1985–97; Educ. Comm. of States, 1989–93; Dir., Black Hills Corp., 1992–96; Western Interstate Comm. for Higher Educ., 1995–96.

  • Military Career:

    WY Natl. Guard, 1967–73.

  • Political Career:

    Gillette mayor, 1975–82; WY House of Reps., 1986–90; WY Senate, 1990–96.

  • Religion:

    Presbyterian

  • Family: Married (Diana); 3 children

Michael Enzi, the senior senator from Wyoming, was elected in 1996. He is a highly conservative player on fiscal issues whose mild-mannered nature belies his skill at winning backroom battles. His ardent support among Republicans thwarted a potential 2014 primary challenge from ex-Vice President Dick Cheney's daughter Liz, and in 2015 he took over as chairman of the Budget Committee after exerting his seniority over the higher-profile Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions. Read More

Michael Enzi, the senior senator from Wyoming, was elected in 1996. He is a highly conservative player on fiscal issues whose mild-mannered nature belies his skill at winning backroom battles. His ardent support among Republicans thwarted a potential 2014 primary challenge from ex-Vice President Dick Cheney's daughter Liz, and in 2015 he took over as chairman of the Budget Committee after exerting his seniority over the higher-profile Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions.

Enzi grew up in Thermopolis and Sheridan, the son of a shoe salesman. He earned degrees in accounting and retail marketing, moved to Gillette, and became an accountant for an oil well servicing company. He and his wife, Diana, started a small business, NZ Shoes. In the 1970s, at a Jaycees meeting, Enzi met Republican Sen. Alan Simpson, who was impressed by his volunteerism and suggested he run for public office. In 1975, Enzi was elected mayor of Gillette, the center of Wyoming’s coal belt and its fastest-growing town. He was mayor for eight years. In 1986, he was elected to the Wyoming state House and in 1990 to the state Senate.

After Simpson announced his retirement in December 1995, Enzi was one of nine Republicans and two Democrats who ran for the seat. With support from a grassroots network of conservatives, Enzi finished first in a straw poll at the May 1996 Republican state convention. In second place was John Barrasso, an orthopedic surgeon from Casper who had statewide name recognition as a television commentator on health issues. Their chief difference was on abortion rights. Enzi opposed abortion rights, and Barrasso did not. Barrasso also had more money, but Enzi won 32%-30%. (Barrasso later became Enzi's like-minded Wyoming colleague.) The Democratic nominee was former Secretary of State Kathy Karpan, who opposed gun control and abortion rights. But she had the liabilities of having supported the presidential candidacies of Bill Clinton, who was unpopular in conservative Wyoming, and Bruce Babbitt, who was unpopular in Wyoming as Clinton’s Interior secretary. Enzi led in polls throughout the campaign and won 54%-42%.

In the Senate, Enzi was named "nicest senator" in Washingtonian's annual anonymous survey of congressional staffers. He has been a reliable stalwart for the political right—his lifetime rating from the anti-tax group Club for Growth through 2013 was 94%, one of the highest among senators. In taking over as Budget chairman, he told reporters he would seek to offer a blueprint bringing the budget into balance within 10 years "without gimmicks and bad accounting." Although some Republicans had discussed using the budget process to pass tax reform, Enzi said he agreed with new Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch of Utah that he disagreed with the idea. "If we're going to have a successful tax reform, it really shouldn't be just partisan," Enzi said.

Sessions was the top Republican on Budget in the 113th Congress (2013-14), and was widely expected to take over as chairman in the new GOP-controlled Senate. But Enzi startled his party when he decided to use his seniority (which had been determined by a coin flip, since the two men entered the Senate at the same time) to claim the slot. Sessions subsequently decided to defer to Enzi, avoiding what could have been a nasty intramural battle.

Enzi and Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, pleased tea party activists in May 2011 when they introduced the “Repeal Amendment,” a measure enabling states to repeal any federal law. They said in an op-ed article that their goal was “to restore the balance of power in our system of government as provided in the original Constitution.” When Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan’s controversial plan to transform Medicare into a voucher-like system came up for a Senate vote in May 2011, Enzi voted in favor of it. The legislation was defeated, 57-40.

But Enzi also tried to seek common ground on other issues. He co-sponsored with Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., a bill that aimed to help small businesses pool together as regional associations to secure federal government contracts. Enzi also offered a bill with Sen. Herb Kohl, D-Wis., in May 2011 that would allow more time for displaced workers to repay loans to their 401(k) accounts.

Enzi has a reputation as a hard worker who pays attention to the details of legislation and who looks for areas of compromise. He was a key negotiator in the Obama administration’s early efforts to get a health care bill through Congress in 2009. His own health care proposal called for tax credits for buying health care, assistance to help small businesses provide coverage for their employees, and requirements for the states to reduce the cost of medical malpractice insurance. He was one of the “Gang of Six” senators that met during the summer of 2009 in an unsuccessful effort to hammer out a solution acceptable to both parties. Since then, Enzi has remained a vocal critic of the Obama administration’s efforts on health care. In April 2011, he joined Republicans Olympia Snowe of Maine and Orrin Hatch of Utah in questioning the Small Business Administration about how the agency was protecting small companies trying to meet the new law’s regulations.

Enzi and California Democrat Dianne Feinstein worked in 2010 to limit the use of the controversial chemical bisphenol A as part of food safety legislation, but the chemical industry successfully blocked the move. He also joined North Dakota’s Byron Dorgan that year in pushing a bill to lift the U.S. travel ban on Cuba. He joined a similar bipartisan effort in 2015. And despite his ideological differences with the late liberal Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, he forged a productive and largely bipartisan working relationship with him on the Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee. When Kennedy chaired the HELP panel, Enzi was the ranking minority member, and the two established what they called the 80-20 principle: reach broad agreement on 80% of an issue and leave out the 20% where no agreement can be found. The two successfully pushed through the committeea bill requiring insurance companies to treat mental illness the same as other ailments in coverage decisions. They also agreed on reauthorization of Head Start early education programs and on renewal of college programs.

In 2011, HELP Chairman Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, worked with Enzi to try to iron out details of a rewrite of the No Child Left Behind federal education law. But other Republicans on the committee derailed a scheduled bill-drafting session in October, complaining that they were left out of the process. Despite the objections, the bill passed the committee 15-7, with Enzi and two other Republicans joining all of the committee Democrats in supporting it. The legislation removed the previous accountability system that required all students to be proficient in math and reading by 2014. In its place, it required states to adopt standards and develop their own accountability measures in order to receive federal funding. But the bill never came to a vote on the Senate floor. On other education issues, Enzi disagreed sharply with Harkin. When Harkin planned a hearing examining controversial for-profit colleges, Enzi sent two letters to Harkin urging him to broaden the hearing to include all higher education institutions. When Harkin went ahead with the hearing, Enzi led other Republicans in a boycott of the meeting in June 2011. In 2013, Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., replaced Enzi as the HELP panel’s ranking Republican, though Enzi remained on the committee.

Enzi chaired the HELP panel in 2005 when Republicans held the majority; he did not always follow the Bush administration’s lead. He sided with ranking minority member Kennedy in opposing a White House proposal to encourage more use of government vouchers for private school tuition in Gulf states recovering from Hurricane Katrina in 2005. He put together the reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Vocational and Technical Education Act, which passed the Senate 99-0 and was enacted in August 2005. Enzi also won passage of renewed versions of a major jobs training bill and the higher education law. On an issue of special interest back home, Enzi helped to enact a bill to expedite the clean-up of abandoned coal mines. In the closing days of the Republican majority, he was instrumental in resolving conflicts over the funding formula to renew domestic AIDS programs. Enzi’s former primary foe, Barrasso, is now the state’s junior senator, and the two have joined forces on local issues.

As the only accountant in the Senate at the time, Enzi played a key role on a major corporate accountability bill in 2002. He opposed a move by the Securities and Exchange Commission to bar accounting firms from doing auditing and consulting work for the same corporation. Enzi and Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee Chairman Paul Sarbanes, D-Md., worked out a compromise establishing an accounting board independent of the SEC with power to oversee accounting firms. The Senate later passed the bill that became known as the Sarbanes-Oxley corporate accounting law (after Republican Rep. Michael Oxley of Ohio, who pushed it through the House).

Enzi briefly considered retirement after being passed over twice for appointment to the Finance Committee. In 2007, GOP Senate leaders gave a committee vacancy to the less-senior John Ensign of Nevada as a reward for Ensign’s work leading the National Republican Senatorial Committee. Enzi tried again when another seat opened in late 2007, but the spot instead went to New Hampshire Sen. John Sununu, who also had less seniority but was facing a difficult reelection in 2008. “That was a really down time in my life,” Enzi told the Associated Press. Sununu lost in 2008, and Enzi finally got a seat on the powerful Finance panel.

He has not had serious opposition in either of his reelection races, though in 2013 it appeared that Liz Cheney might be his first real contender. The daughter of the onetime vice president, a prominent conservative activist and former State Department official, declared that "the Washington establishment is the problem" as the basis for her candidacy. But Enzi won the immediate and unwavering public backing of colleagues up and down the ideological spectrum. “I don’t know why in the world she’s doing this,” Hatch told Politico, adding that Enzi is “honest and decent, hard-working; he’s got very important positions in the Senate. He’s highly respected. And these are all things that would cause anybody to say: ‘Why would anybody run against him?’”

With a poll showing Enzi ahead by more than 50 percentage points in November 2013, Liz Cheney eventually took the hint and ended her bid in January 2014, citing "serious health issues" in her family. Enzi subsequently clobbered Democrat Charlie Hardy by more than 54 percentage points in November.

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Michael Enzi Election Results
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2008 General
Michael Enzi (R)
Votes: 189,046
Percent: 75.63%
Spent: $2,368,893
Chris Rothfuss
Votes: 60,631
Percent: 24.26%
Spent: $32,326
2008 Primary
Michael Enzi (R)
Votes: 69,195
Percent: 100.0%
Prior Winning Percentages
2002 (73%); 1996 (54%)
Michael Enzi Votes and Bills
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National Journal’s rating system is an objective method of analyzing voting. The liberal score means that the lawmaker’s votes were more liberal than that percentage of his colleagues’ votes. The conservative score means his votes were more conservative than that percentage of his colleagues’ votes. The composite score is an average of a lawmaker’s six issue-based scores. See all NJ Voting

More Liberal
More Conservative
2013 2012 2011
Economic - (L) : 95 (C) 17 (L) : 82 (C) - (L) : 94 (C)
Social - (L) : 92 (C) 6 (L) : 93 (C) 22 (L) : 75 (C)
Foreign 5 (L) : 93 (C) 10 (L) : 85 (C) - (L) : 94 (C)
Composite 4.2 (L) : 95.8 (C) 12.2 (L) : 87.8 (C) 9.8 (L) : 90.2 (C)
Interest Group Ratings

The vote ratings by 10 special interest groups provide insight into a lawmaker’s general ideology and the degree to which he or she agrees with the group’s point of view. Two organizations provide just one combined rating for 2011 and 2012, the two sessions of the 112th Congress. They are the ACLU and the ITIC. About the interest groups.

20112012
FRC7171
LCV97
CFG8671
ITIC-86
NTU8977
20112012
COC100-
ACLU-25
ACU8992
ADA105
AFSCME0-
Key Senate Votes

The key votes show how a member of Congress voted on the major bills of the year. N indicates a "no" vote; Y a "yes" vote. If a member voted "present" or was absent, the bill caption is not shown. For a complete description of the bills included in key votes, see the Almanac's Guide to Usage.

    • End fiscal cliff
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2012
    • Block faith exemptions
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2012
    • Approve gas pipeline
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2012
    • Approve farm bill
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2012
    • Let cyber bill proceed
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2012
    • Block Gitmo transfers
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2012
    • Raise debt limit
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2011
    • Pass balanced budget amendment
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2011
    • Stop EPA climate regulations
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2011
    • Proceed to Cordray vote
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2011
    • Require talking filibuster
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2011
    • Limit Fannie/Freddie
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2011
    • Regulate financial firms
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2010
    • Pass tax cuts for some
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2010
    • Legalize immigrants' kids
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2010
    • Ratify New START
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2010
    • Confirm Elena Kagan
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2010
    • Stop EPA climate regs
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2010
    • Repeal don't ask, tell
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2010
    • Overturn Ledbetter
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2009
    • Block release of TARP funds
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Pass $787 billion stimulus
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2009
    • Repeal DC gun laws
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Confirm Sonia Sotomayor
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2009
    • Pass health care bill
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2009
    • Bar budget rules for climate bill
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Pass 2010 budget resolution
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2009
    • Let judges adjust mortgages
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2009
    • Allow FDA to regulate tobacco
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2009
    • Protect gays from hate crimes
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2009
    • Cut F-22 funds
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Label North Korea terrorist state
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2009
    • Build Guantanamo replacement
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2009
    • Allow federal funds for abortion
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2009
    • Cap greenhouse gases
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2008
    • Bail out financial markets
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2008
    • Increase missile defense $
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2008
    • Overhaul FISA
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2008
    • Raise CAFE standards
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2007
    • Expand SCHIP
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2007
    • Make English official language
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2007
    • Path to citizenship
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2007
    • Fetus is unborn child
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2007
    • Prosecute hate crimes
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2007
    • Withdraw troops 3/08
    • Vote: N
    • Year: 2007
    • Iran guard is terrorist group
    • Vote: Y
    • Year: 2007
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The Almanac is a members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics. Comprehensive online profiles include biographical and political summaries of elected officials, campaign expenditures, voting records, interest-group ratings, and congressional staff look-ups. In-depth overviews of each state and house district are included as well, along with demographic data, analysis of voting trends, and political histories.
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