Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson has announced he will virtually walk from Washington D.C. to Boise during the next year as part of the Idaho STEP Challenge. Since 2014, Simpson has lost nearly 70 pounds using an activity tracker to monitor his daily steps. Simpson recently cosponsored H.R. 1218, the Personal Health Investment Today Act (PHIT Act) which aims to promote health and prevent obesity related diseases by allowing physical activity expenses to be reimbursed using pre-tax dollars.
The Idaho STEP Challenge was created by Simpson as a way to encourage residents to get fit and healthy using data captured on a wearable activity tracker or pedometer. Individuals wishing to participate will register on Simpson’s website, and then keep pace with the Congressman as he walks across America starting on June 1.
“Being more active is not only good for you and your family, it is good for our country,” said Simpson. “Health care costs are one of the largest expenses our nation faces and if we all work on increased awareness about our own health habits, we can reduce these expenses significantly while enjoying the many benefits of being healthier. I am very excited to begin the Idaho STEP Challenge and I hope this fun event can encourage Idahoans and others to take a personal interest in their fitness and health.”
Similar to a virtual race, residents can participate using their own activity tracker or pedometer to track the steps they accumulate through regular fitness or exercise routines. Each participant will report their weekly progress on Simpson’s website.
The route begins at the U.S. Capitol Building, and takes participants through several iconic American cities, national parks, and spacious heartlands, eventually ending on the steps of the Idaho State Capital Building.
The challenge is expected to last approximately 14 months, and cover nearly 3,000 miles.
Frequent challenge updates, fun facts about the towns and cities along the route, links to healthy recipes, tips on getting in your weekly steps, and other information will be posted to Simpson’s Facebook and Twitter feeds, and labeled with a #hikewithMike hashtag.
Constituents that complete the challenge will be invited to meet Simpson in Boise, Idaho next year for a walk and healthy reception. Participants will also have the opportunity to purchase a flag flown over the U.S. Capitol Building in recognition of their achievement.
The Idaho STEP Challenge is a non-partisan, non-political interactive event open to the public.Read More
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson today supported passage of the fiscal year 2017 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill. This bill provides funding to maintain military base infrastructure and to house, train, and equip military personnel, as well as other services for military families. It also funds the medical care and benefits administered by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).
“This legislation provides an increase in funding for medical care and benefits administered by the VA to address health care shortages and improve services for veterans,” Simpson said. “Quality and timely care for veterans and providing the rightly earned benefits for the brave men and women that defend our nation are top concerns for me and my constituents. It’s our responsibility in Congress to fulfill our commitment to our veterans, our service members and their families.”
The FY17 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations bill (H.R.4974) passed the House of Representatives on a bipartisan vote of 295-129.
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson last night supported passage of H.R. 4909, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2017. This legislation fulfills the constitutional responsibility of Congress to provide for the common defense by funding the Department of Defense.
“I am very pleased to see the NDAA pass, and particularly for the recognition of the A-10’s importance in the bill and its unique and invaluable contributions to the armed forces,” said Simpson. “The fight against ISIS has once again shown the value of the A-10 in close air support missions and this bill ensures they remain available as a tool for our brave men and women in combat. There will be a time when they will need to be replaced. However, until an appropriate replacement can be identified, it continues to merit our support.”
The FY17 NDAA contains language preventing the retirement of the A-10 Thunderbolt II, which currently operates at Gowen Field in Boise. Additionally, it prohibits the Secretary of the Air Force from reducing A-10 squadrons until results from comparative testing and evaluation between the capabilities of the F-35 and A-10 are submitted to Congress.
The bill also provides for a 2.1% pay raise for over 1.3 million active-duty and 830,000 Guard and Reserve troops.
H.R. 4909 passed the House with a bipartisan vote of 277-147.
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson released the following statement after a federal judge ruled that the Obama administration unlawfully paid billions to Obamacare health insurers without congressional approval.
“Yesterday’s ruling confirms what many American’s already know, the President is acting unilaterally without consulting Congress,” said Congressman Simpson. “The President didn’t confer with Republicans when Obamacare passed on party line votes, and he continues to ignore Congress as a collective body by spending money without appropriations from the legislative branch. This ruling is important to protecting the balance of powers that are defined in the Constitution.”
House Republicans approved a resolution in the 113th Congress that authorized the House to bring litigation against the Administration for unilateral actions under Obamacare. In September, a federal judge ruled that the House has the right to pursue legal action against the Administration over billions of dollars in subsidies that were never approved by Congress in an effort to preserve its constitutional authority to control federal spending.
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson is a cosponsor of H.R. 2896, the Taking Account of Institutions with Low Operation Risk Act of 2015. The TAILOR Act would provide smaller community banks and credit unions with regulatory relief.
H.R. 2896 requires federal financial regulatory agencies to consider the risk profile and business models of financial institutions when taking regulatory action; and requires agencies to tailor regulations accordingly as appropriate and necessary. Currently, small traditional banks and credit unions are subject to one-size-fits-all compliance regulations intended for much larger financial institutions.
“Idaho’s banks and credit unions provide vital, personalized service in our communities and should not be impeded by disproportionate and undue regulation.” Simpson said. “It’s critical that federal regulators focus the majority of their oversight efforts on the institutions with the highest risk instead of burdening our hometown banks with excessive regulation.”
H.R. 2896 is under consideration by the House Financial Services Committee.
Idaho Congressman Simpson is a cosponsor of H.R. 4773, the Protecting Workplace Advancement and Opportunity Act, which blocks a U.S. Department of Labor rule to significantly increase the salary threshold for exemption from federal overtime pay requirements for managerial, professional or administrative positions.
Currently under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), salaried employees who earn $23,660 or less are eligible for overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours per week. In its final rule, the U.S. Department of Labor rule is expected to increase the income eligibility threshold to workers who make less than $47,000 a year.
“I am not necessarily opposed to increasing the salary threshold for exempt positions, but I am concerned that a sudden 99% increase will be too burdensome for nonprofits, academic institutions, and small businesses in Idaho” Simpson said. “The rule could create unintended consequences such as reduced hours and benefits for employees as businesses would be required to immediately absorb new labor costs. Furthermore, this federal salary threshold does not take into account regional differences in wages and cost of living, which could put Idaho businesses at a disadvantage.”
H.R. 4773 would block the current proposed regulation from taking effect and require the U.S. Department of Labor to perform further analysis of the impact that the changes to overtime regulations will have on small businesses, nonprofits, and institutes of higher education; as well as the impact on employment and employee benefit structures for exempt and nonexempt employees, before proceeding with its rule.
H.R. 4773 is under consideration by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce.
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson joined a bipartisan group of Members of Congress in sending a letter to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) top official expressing extreme concerns with the use of federal funding for advocacy and lobbying efforts. EPA funds were recently linked to an advocacy project in Washington State.
“As an Idahoan I fully expect to have differences with the EPA regarding policy,” said Simpson. “But one thing that we should always agree on is the law and these advocacy campaigns clearly violate appropriate uses of federal resources. I will continue to use my seat in Congress to rein in the EPA whether it is overreaching regulations, or in this case improper use of taxpayer funds.”
Federal law prohibits appropriations for the use of publicity or propaganda purposes not approved by Congress. This new revelation comes on the heels of a December 2015 Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that found EPA committed violations on advocacy campaigns supporting the agencies Waters of the United States regulation.
The cosigners of the letter also signaled their support for Senators Jim Inhofe and Pat Robert’s efforts requesting an EPA Office of Inspector General Report official audit and investigation into advocacy efforts and grant management. The full letter can be viewed here.
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson today announced that the Fiscal Year 2017 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill reverses proposed cuts to Idaho National Laboratory (INL), the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy, and cleanup activities in Idaho. Simpson is Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, which passed the bill through the full House Appropriations Committee today, and had the lead role in deciding funding for all Department of Energy programs.
“The FY17 Energy and Water bill provides strong funding for the Office of Nuclear Energy and the essential work at the Idaho National Laboratory,” said Chairman Simpson. “Every day, world renowned researchers at the INL work to promote and ensure our nation’s energy security, and this bill will provide them with the resources they need to continue their cutting edge work. With increasing international competition, it is critical that the U.S. remain at the forefront of nuclear research and development, and I am proud that this bill will help maintain that leadership.”
The FY 2017 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill sets funding for the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy at $1.01 billion, an increase of $25.4 million above fiscal year 2016 and $17.7 million above the President’s request. Nuclear energy research and development programs that receive funding within the overall $1.01 billion allocation include:
The Idaho Facilities Management account, which covers infrastructure maintenance and improvement at INL, is funded at $240 million – a $19.5 million increase over last year and the President’s request.
The Nuclear Energy Enabling Technologies program is funded at $121.4 million – an increase of $9.8 million above fiscal year 2016 and $31.9 million above the President’s request.
Small Modular Reactor Licensing Support Programs are funded at $96.6 million. This fully funds NuScale Power’s Small Modular Reactor which is proposed for construction in Idaho.
The Light Water Reactor Sustainability program, which is managed by INL and promotes the continued safe operation of America’s existing nuclear reactors, is funded at $40 million.
The Reactor Concepts Research, Development, and Demonstration account is funded at $140 million – an increase of $31.2 million above the President’s request. Within the overall $140 million level for this account, $33 million is allocated to fuel qualification for the High Temperature Gas Reactor.
Within the Fuel Cycle Research and Development program, the Advanced Fuels program is funded at $62.1 million, $2 million above fiscal year 2016; and Used Nuclear Fuel Disposition research and development is funded at $61.1 million, $23.8 million below fiscal year 2016.
Within the Office of Naval Reactors, the bill includes $75.1 million for the operation of the Advanced Test Reactor.
Within the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, the bill includes $12 million for the development of an Electric Grid Test Bed program to enhance existing full-scale electric grid testing capabilities like those at Idaho National Laboratory.
The bill also provides $390 million for cleanup activities associated with the Idaho Cleanup Project and the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project co-located on the Idaho desert with INL. The funding level is $20 million above the President’s request and will allow the significant cleanup activities currently underway to continue. The bill also includes an additional $4 million for the National Spent Fuel Program, putting the unique expertise of INL to work in order to provide solutions for managing the Department of Energy’s inventories of spent nuclear fuel.
Despite the Obama Administration’s unilateral decision to disregard the federal government’s legal requirement to take responsibility for civilian spent nuclear fuel, the bill contains funding to support the continued adjudication of the Yucca Mountain license application, ensuring the federal government will meet its commitments to Idaho and other states and dispose of used nuclear fuel.
Overall, the Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill provides $37.4 billion for the functions of the Department of Energy, the Army Corps of Engineers, the Bureau of Reclamation and a number of independent agencies, including direction for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Bonneville Power Administration.
“From water projects across the nation to critical energy research and national security, the Energy and Water bill has a wide reach,” Chairman Simpson said. “This is a responsible bill that supports U.S. national security, safety, and economic competitiveness by balancing critical priorities within tight budget caps,” said Chairman Simpson. “It prioritizes the maintenance and safety of our nuclear weapons stockpile, while also making strategic investments in infrastructure projects and energy research that will help grow the U.S. economy.”
The bill is expected to be considered on the floor of the House of Representatives in the coming weeks. The complete Committee Report can be found at: http://appropriations.house.gov/uploadedfiles/hrpt-114-hr-fy2017-energywater.pdf
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson supported H.Res. 639, authorizing an amicus brief—also known as a “friend of the court” brief—to be filed on behalf of the House Representatives in the Supreme Court. This brief supports the 26 states that filed legal action against President Obama for his infringement on Article I authority over immigration policy in the case, U.S. v. Texas. It is the first time the House has taken an official position and filed an amicus brief on a Supreme Court case. H.Res. 639 was adopted in the House today by a vote of 234-186.
“The President’s actions are contrary to the way the American people expect the President and Congress to interact,” said Simpson. “I am deeply concerned by the President’s continued overreach and disregard of Congress’ role in making laws.”
Simpson has long supported legislation to block unilateral actions by the Executive branch and to restore power to the appropriate branches of government. Simpson previously filed in the 5th Circuit Court an amicus brief in support of the states’ suit against the President.
The primary argument of the brief involves an Article I v. Article II controversy regarding the discretion of the executive branch to make laws without authority.
“With the Supreme Court considering a fundamental case on the role of the executive and legislative branches in making laws, it is imperative that we use all tools at our disposal to stop the President’s overreach,” said Simpson. “We have found ourselves in this situation far too often in the last seven years, so I do hope that the Supreme Court will send a clear message to the Administration that will restore the balance of powers dictated by the Constitution.”
In November, the 5th Circuit Court ruled against the Administration, preventing the 2014 executive action from being implemented. The Administration subsequently appealed their case to the Supreme Court.
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson today examined the President’s FY17 budget proposal during a House Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee hearing with the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Director Neil Kornze. Simpson, who is the vice-chair of the subcommittee, took the opportunity to question Kornze on important issues facing Idaho.
During the hearing Congressman Simpson raised the issue of the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer and the role BLM can play in helping the State of Idaho stabilize the ground water level in the aquifer. Congressman Simpson commented, “The State of Idaho would like to recharge the (Eastern Snake Plain) aquifer since the water level is going down substantially, and there are periods of time when we have excess water that we just flush down the river. It would be nice to recharge that aquifer and I would encourage your office to work with the State of Idaho and our office in developing a plan that might work.”
Simpson also commented on sage grouse management plans. After the hearing, Simpson said, “While it is a success the sage grouse was not listed under the Endangered Species Act, it is important to remember that the State of Idaho has concerns with the management plans. BLM needs to keep their door open to the state regarding the future of the management plans to ensure that their voices are heard in a truly collaborative process.”
The BLM hearing was one of 26 hearings held by House Appropriations Committee this week on the President’s budget request.
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Michael (Mike) K. Simpson is serving his eighth term in the House of Representatives for Idaho’s Second Congressional District.
Mike serves on the House Appropriations Committee. He is the Chairman for the Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development. He also serves on the Interior and Environment Subcommittee and the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Subcommittee. These committees have jurisdiction over funding for a number of programs critical to Idaho, including the Department of Energy, the Department of the Interior, the Forest Service, our National Parks, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Smithsonian Institute.
Simpson is one of the House’s leading advocates for a new energy policy and a renewed commitment to research and development of improved nuclear energy technologies. Mike has also gained national attention for his bill to split the massive, overburdened 9th Circuit Court of Appeals as well as his bill, the Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act which addresses the concerns of economic growth and stability for rural Idaho and resolves long time wilderness debate over the Boulder-White Clouds.
His political career began in 1980, when he was elected to the Blackfoot City Council. In 1984, he was elected to the Idaho Legislature where he served until 1998, the last six years serving as Speaker. Simpson was born in Burley, Idaho and raised in Blackfoot. He graduated from Utah State University and earned his DMD from Washington University School of Dental Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri. After graduation, he joined his father and uncle at the Simpson Family Dental Practice in Blackfoot.
Mike is an avid golfer and enjoys painting. He has been married to his wife Kathy for over 40 years and they live in Idaho Falls.
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Simpson launches STEP Challenge - Congressman will virtually walk from D.C. to Boise to promote health and fitness https://t.co/CWPQrwdbQf
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Simpson supports banking regulatory reform to provide small community banks & credit unions with regulatory relief https://t.co/fDxB0OfoQ7
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Rep.Simpson receives the 2016 Port Persons of the Year award from the American Association of Port Authorities. https://t.co/vyPwyLmaq7