Mike Simpson

Mike Simpson

IDAHO's 2nd DISTRICT

Simpson Announces 2016 Academy Nominees

2016/02/04

Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson is pleased to announce the following men and women have been officially appointed to the United States service academies. Simpson nominated the students in December 2015 in order to be accepted to the Class of 2020. The Idaho Congressional Delegation will congratulate and meet the candidates at a reception to be held at Gowen Field on Mon., Feb. 15 at 10:00 a.m.

“It is an honor to nominate Idaho students to the service academies,” said Simpson. “I am always impressed by the quality and character of our youth in Idaho. Each person is a fine example of what our state has to offer. They are bright and articulate and I’m proud of these exceptional students who were selected to serve.”

Nominations were selected on the quality of their application, scholastic achievement, references and extracurricular activities.

Students from Idaho were appointed to either the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.; the United States Military Academy in West Point, N.Y.; U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, N.Y., or the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

Treasure Valley Area Students:

Air Force Academy

  • Dirk Lamb (Boise)

    • Rob and Trisha Lamb, Timberline High School

  • Megan Marshall (Boise)

    • Daniel and Joleen Marshall, Timberline High School

  • Mark Jerome (Boise)

    • David and Julie Jerome, Borah High School

  • Abigail Elliot (Boise)

    • Jerry and Nicole Elliott, Bishop Kelly High School

  • Lillian Boggan (Boise)

    • Teresa Boggan, Capital High School

  • Adrianna Lutu (Boise)

    • Harvey and Susan Lutu, Meridian High School

Military Academy

  • George Walter (Boise)

    • George Walter and Rosa Totorica, Boise High School

  • Garrett Calhoun (Boise)

    • Gary and Melissa Calhoun, Timberline High School

  • Mark Jerome (Boise)

    • David and Julie Jerome, Borah High School

  • Olivia Konecni (Boise)

    • Tony and Annette Konecni, Capital High School

Naval Academy

  • Travis Grant (Boise)

    • Michael and Jean Grant, Timberline High School

  • Alysia Santa Cruz-Cernick (Boise)

    • Douglas Cernick and Maria Santa Cruz-Cernick, Capital High School

  • Catherine Carignan (Boise)

    • Robert and Laurel Carignan, Riverstone International School

  • Kylar Honan (Boise)

    • Lars and Margaret Honan, Eagle High School

  • Thomas Burchfield (Boise)

    • Andrew and Stacy Burchfield, Timberline High School

Merchant Marine Academy

  • Olivia Konecni  (Boise)

    • Tony and Annette Konecni, Capital High School

  • Devon Lloyd (Meridian)

    • Jason and Brenda Lloyd, North Star Charter HS/Meridian Technical Charter High School

Mountain Home Students:

Air Force Academy

  • Kiana Brantley (Mountain Home)

  • Porsha Brantley, Sierra High School

Magic Valley Area Students:

Air Force Academy

  • Dustin Ault (Twin Falls)

    • Daniel and Heather Ault, Canyon Ridge High School

  • Ellison Huber (Jerome)

    • James and Kimberley Huber, Bruton High School

  • Matthew McDonald (Kimberly)

    • Bradley and Krista McDonald, Air Academy High School

Military Academy

  • Rayelynn Brackett (Twin Falls)

    • Marc and Kristin Brackett, Canyon Ridge High School/Idaho Virtual Academy

  • Chase Prairie (Jerome)

    • Gordon and Shannon Prairie, James I. O’Neill High School

  • Ellison Huber (Jerome)

    • James and Kimberley Huber, Jerome High School

Naval Academy

  • Rayelynn Brackett (Twin Falls)

    • Marc and Kristin Brackett, Canyon Ridge High School/Idaho Virtual Academy

  • Trey Widmier (Rupert)

    • Nile and Michele Widmier, Minico High School

Merchant Marine Academy

  • Rayelynn Brackett (Twin Falls)

    • Marc and Kristin Brackett, Canyon Ridge High School/Idaho Virtual Academy

Chubbuck/Rockland/Blackfoot Area Students:

Military Academy

  • Gregory Drake (Blackfoot)

    • Steven and Merri Ann Drake, Blackfoot High School

  • Justin Robinson (Rockland)

    • David and Wanda Robinson, Rockland High School

Naval Academy

  • Jacob Huston (Chubbuck)

    • Michael and Beth Huston, Century High School

Merchant Marine Academy

  • Gregory Drake (Blackfoot)

    • Steven and Merri Ann Drake, Blackfoot High School

Idaho Falls/St. Anthony Area Students:

Military Academy

  • Alex Pope (St. Anthony)

    • Ryon and Liz Pope, South Fremont High School

Naval Academy

  • Charlee Biecker (Idaho Falls)

    • Rick Bieker and Andrea Skinner, Compass Academy High School

Merchant Marine Academy

  • Charlee Biecker (Idaho Falls)

    • Rick Bieker and Andrea Skinner, Compass Academy High School

Congressman Simpson is currently accepting applications for students who seek nomination for the Class of 2021. Information about eligibility and answers to other common questions can be found under the student section on Simpson’s website: simpson.house.gov. The application is also online.

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Simpson Votes to Stop Obama Administration Anti-Gun Initiative

2016/02/04

Idaho Congressman Simpson supported H.R. 766, the Financial Institution Customer Protection Act, to curtail the Obama Administration’s regulatory enforcement program known as “Operation Choke Point.”

“Operation Choke Point” is a Department of Justice (DOJ) initiative in which federal banking regulators investigate banks’ business with merchants deemed to be at high risk for fraud and money laundering and “choke off” businesses alleged to have committed fraud from access to financial services.  In recent years, the Obama Administration has misused this authority by discouraging banks and credit unions from providing banking services to entire categories of lawful businesses and industries, such as the gun and ammunition industry, simply because they were politically disfavored by the Administration.

“Federal regulators should not pressure banks to terminate their business with legal merchants by targeting industries that the Obama Administration deems objectionable, despite the fact that they are legal businesses,” said Simpson.  “With business owners’ livelihoods at stake, such actions must be based on actual risk and not political motive.  This program needs to be focused on combating fraud and protecting consumers rather than becoming an end-run around the Second Amendment.”

H.R. 766 would protect customers’ access to banking services from federal regulators, except in cases where there is material reason—such as a threat to national security—to terminate such access.  H.R. 766 ensures that businesses operating lawfully are not denied access to banking services. 

H.R. 766 passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 250-169.

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Simpson Supports Congressional Review of EPA Water Grab

2016/01/14

Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson joined 253 Members of Congress in passing S.J.Res. 22, a resolution intended to stop the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from implementing the Obama Administration’s controversial Clean Water Rule.  The rule, which was implemented in June 2015 in spite of widespread opposition among the public and in Congress, broadly expands the agencies’ jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act.  S.J.Res. 22 would use the Congressional Review Act to prevent the rule from being enacted and bring the agencies’ actions back in line with congressional intent. 

“After seven years of the Obama Administration, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised at EPA’s voracious appetite for expanding its power, regardless of public opinion or the impact that its onerous regulations have on states and on farmers and ranchers,” said Simpson.  “It also shouldn’t be a surprise, then, that a concerned Congress would utilize its authority to prevent this harmful rule from going into effect—and that I should wholeheartedly support that effort.  There are major problems with the way that the EPA has claimed jurisdiction over state-regulated waters.  This rule will have a devastating impact on Idaho if it is allowed to move forward.”

The Congressional Review Act guards against federal agencies imposing economically burdensome regulations.  Simpson, who has long fought against efforts to expand the EPA’s control over state waters, is a cosponsor of the House version of the resolution, H.J.Res. 59.  He chairs the House Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee, which oversees the budget of the Corps of Engineers.  He also sits on the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, which oversees the budget of the EPA.

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SIMPSON RESPONDS TO SOTU

2016/01/12

Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson issued the following statement after the President’s State of the Union Address.

“I am not surprised that the President missed another opportunity to unite our country with his last State of the Union address,” said Simpson. “Instead of engaging Congress with a list of policy proposals we can work on together, the President chose to use the speech to lecture the nation on his agenda and his tired executive actions that continue to be blocked by our judicial branch. Noticeably absent from his speech was an acknowledgement that a mere 27 percent of Americans currently believe the country is headed in the right direction.  Also noticeably absent was any mention of the crisis we face with regard to our national debt, with the President instead pronouncing new federal programs that would only add billions to it.  

“There is no doubt this President delivers a great speech. The problem is he simply cannot deliver what he promises to the American people. The truth is that ISIS is not contained, the labor force participation rate remains too low, and our government-knows-best healthcare system is raising costs for families and patients.  Sadly, the President missed a chance to provide a path forward at a time when our country needs bold ideas and creative solutions.”

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Congress Sends First Ever Obamacare Repeal Bill to President’s Desk

2016/01/06

Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson supported the Senate amendment to H.R. 3762, the Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act today which builds on the House passed version from October. The legislation repeals the most onerous Obamacare provisions through a mechanism known as reconciliation, which is a budgeting process that allows Congress to align the priorities outlined in the budget resolution with existing law. This is the first Obamacare repeal bill that will reach the President’s desk.

“Since the inception of Obamacare, Americans have sent a clear message that the law is not working for them or their families,” said Simpson. “They have registered their disapproval through polls, by contacting their representatives, and by electing a Republican majority in both the House and Senate who categorically oppose government run healthcare. Today’s Obamacare repeal bill would provide relief to Americans by eliminating the burdensome taxes and overreaching mandates that are directly responsible for driving up healthcare costs.”

Specifically, H.R. 3762 would address key problems with Obamacare including:

  • Repeal the individual mandate – Currently, Americans who do not purchase a health insurance plan through an exchange, receive insurance through Medicaid, or receive employer sponsored coverage, are subject to a penalty.
  • Repeal the employer mandate – Employers with 100 or more employees who do not offer health insurance are subject to penalties that range from $2,000-$3,000.
  • Repeal the Medical Device Tax – the 2.3% excise tax on medical devices is currently being passed on to consumers.
  • Repeal the “Cadillac Tax” – 40% excise tax of the value of employer sponsored health coverage that exceeds certain benefit thresholds.
  • Repeal Prevention and Public Health Fund – Also known as the Obamacare slush fund that gives the Secretary of Health and Human Services billions of dollars annually to spend with limited accountability.

“By passing today’s legislation, Americans are one step closer to ending government-knows-best healthcare and paving the way for real healthcare reforms that return important medical decisions back into the hands of families, patients, and doctors,” said Simpson.

In addition to repealing sections of Obamacare, H.R. 3762 would place a one year freeze on certain abortion providers such as Planned Parenthood, while redirecting those funds to community health centers. The bill also addresses our national debt by reducing budget deficits by $516 billion over the next 10 years.

H.R. 3762 was passed by a vote of 240-181 and will now head to the President’s desk where he is expected to veto the legislation.

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Simpson Statement on Executive Gun Order

2016/01/05

Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson released the following statement after President Obama unveiled a set of new gun control proposals.

“I am disappointed but not surprised that President Obama is once again using executive orders to unilaterally push forward his personal agenda,” said Simpson. “This Administration pushes constitutional boundaries by implementing policies that should be considered, debated, and voted on by Congress. Limiting the ability of law abiding citizens to exercise their constitutional rights to own firearms, will not address the crime problem. We should focus on improving the care of the mentally ill and enforcing the laws we have in place to ensure that they are kept out of the hands of violent criminals.”

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House Overwhelmingly Passes FY2016 Omnibus Appropriations – Big Wins for Idaho

2015/12/18

Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson today applauded the passage of H.R. 2029, the Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations bill that included many important provisions for Idaho and Western States. The House passed H.R. 2029 by a vote of 316-113, and it will be considered by the U.S. Senate today.  Links to the bill text and reports can be found here: https://rules.house.gov/bill/114/hr-2029-sa.

“I applaud Chairman Rogers and Speaker Ryan for their hard work in assembling this comprehensive and responsible package that will keep the government open through the rest of this fiscal year,” said Simpson.  “This bill contains many critical wins for Idaho and Western States.  It avoids the inefficient and negligent practice of funding the government through continuing resolutions, and is instead the product of this past year’s worth of thoughtful deliberation and line-by-line analysis of our budget.  It will make vital investments in our national economy, all while adhering to budget caps that are $56 billion below the Ryan budget for FY16 and $70 billion below the Ryan budget for FY17.  With all of the provisions that support conservative priorities and Idaho specifically, and I am so pleased to see that it passed the House with overwhelming support.”

As Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development and Vice Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and Environment, Simpson had a key role in deciding funding levels for Department of Energy and Department of Interior programs, including the following highlights:  

Energy and Water Development

“The Energy and Water division of the omnibus continues to support accelerating nuclear innovation programs and addressing much needed infrastructure enhancements at the Idaho National Laboratory,” said Chairman Mike Simpson.  “INL plays a vital national and international role in leading the development of new nuclear technologies, and this bill will help maintain and expand that role in the future.  We are so lucky to have this world class facility in our backyard, with a workforce that constantly pushes the bound of scientific research; we must ensure its capabilities are protected and maximized.”

The FY 2016 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill sets funding for the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy at $986 million, an increase of $73 million above fiscal year 2015 and $79 million above the President’s request.  Nuclear energy research and development programs that receive funding within the overall $986 million allocation include:

  • The Idaho Facilities Management account, which covers infrastructure maintenance and improvement at INL, is funded at $222.5 million – an increase of $16.5 million above FY15, and $11 million above the President’s request. 

  • INL’s Safeguards and Security Program is funded at $126.1 million – an increase of $22.1 million over fiscal year 2015.

  • The Nuclear Energy Enabling Technologies program is funded at $111.6 million – an increase of $10.6 million above fiscal year 2015 and $25 million above the President’s request. 

  • Small Modular Reactor Licensing Support Programs are funded at $62.5 million–$8 million above fiscal year 2015.  This funding is slated for 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 $141.7 million – an increase of $8.7 million above fiscal year 2015, and $33.5 million above the President’s request. Within the overall $141.7 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—a $2 million increase from fiscal year 2015; and Used Nuclear Fuel Disposition research and development is funded at $85 million.

  • Within the Office of Naval Reactors, the bill includes $77.2 million for the operation of the Advanced Test Reactor to accelerate planned safety-related infrastructure upgrades, and $86 million is included for the Spent Fuel Handling Recapitalization Project.

  • Within the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, the bill includes $5 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.

  • Within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, $7 million is included to continue performance testing and life cycle diagnostic assessment activities that validate and verify advanced battery performance. 

The bill also provides $396 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 of $396 million is an increase of $16.5 million above fiscal year 2015 and $36 million above the President’s request, which will allow the significant cleanup activities currently underway to continue. The bill also includes an additional $2 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.  Finally, the bill includes $2 million for dynamic threat assessments at Idaho National Laboratory to create innovative assessment tools for the US government on high consequence threats to the electric grid, oil and gas, and nuclear energy sectors. 

Transportation, Housing and Urban Development

“I am so pleased to see the important language allowing trucks weighing up to 129,000 pounds on Idaho interstates included in the omnibus,” said Simpson.  “This change has long been sought by the State of Idaho because it will remove the competitive disadvantage the state currently faces, and will be a major generator of economic activity in Idaho.  By ensuring that Idaho’s vehicle laws match those of its neighboring states, Idaho can more efficiently play a larger role in transferring goods without impacting road safety.”

The increase to 129,000 pounds from the current allowance of 105,500 pounds will put Idaho in line with neighboring states and with Idaho’s state highways, which currently allow trucks up to 129,000 pounds.   The current weight limit has made it difficult for Idaho producers to ship goods to, from, and through the state.  A higher weight limit means trucks will have more axles than traditional trucks, distributing the weight in such a way that there is less weight on each axle than a standard truck.  It also will reduce the number of trucks on the road. 

Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee

"This bill makes a critical and significant investment in preventing and fighting wildfires," said Simpson.  "This year's fire season was so terrible that the Forest Service and DOI had already gone half a billion dollars over budget by mid-August and ultimately had to transfer $700 million from other non-fire accounts in order to keep putting out fires.  This bill provides $4.2 billion for wildfire suppression and prevention programs, which includes $1 billion in firefighting reserve funds.  As the cost of fighting wildfires increases, this increased funding will provide the agencies with the resources they need to respond to wildfires without decimating forest management accounts in the process.  The bill also includes important funding for hazardous fuels activities and timber management accounts, which will give the Forest Service tools to improve forest health and ultimately reduce the impact of wildfires.

"Fire borrowing remains a problem, and I am disappointed that, in spite of a significant bipartisan effort, my language to fix the wildfire budgeting process was not included in the omnibus.  I am hopeful, however, that this increased funding will address the issue for the coming fiscal year, giving us an opportunity to push a long-term solution like the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act across the finish line."

In addition to providing $4.2 billion for wildfire programs, the Interior portion of the bill:

  • Includes full funding of the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program, which compensates counties for the losses in property tax as a result of a high percentage of federal land.  Idaho counties received $28,609,614 in PILT funding for FY15.

  • Provides $545 million for hazardous fuels reduction activities—a $19 million increase over FY15, and $360 million for the timber program—a $21 million increase of FY15.

  • Cuts EPA funding by $452 million below the President’s budget request, holding the agency’s budget at 21% below FY10 levels.

  • Provides $1 million to compensate ranchers for livestock killed by wolves.

  • Continues language making litigation costs more transparent and extending requirements that litigants exhaust administrative review before litigating grazing issues in Federal court.

  • Includes a 3-year extension of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, with 50% of program funding going to state and local recreation, conservation, and battlefield protection programs.

Agriculture

“I am very pleased the omnibus includes language that maintains the mission at Dubois,” said Simpson. “Because of its location, and expertise, the Dubois staff are working on unique issues, including research on the domestic-wildlife interface that is vital to the sheep industry’s future.”

  • Includes language that preserves Agricultural Research Service (ARS) research programs which includes the U.S. Sheep Experimental Station (USSES) in Dubois, Idaho. The administration attempted to close the facility in 2014 without notifying Congress.  

Defense

“By ensuring the A-10 remains available for close air support, we are responding to the needs of the service members that operate them and to the brave men and women on the ground that rely on them,” said Simpson. “While I certainly acknowledge that the Air Force must make difficult decisions in this time of reduced budgets, the A-10’s low operating costs and unique capabilities merit our continued support until an appropriate replacement can be identified.”

  • Denies the administration’s request to retire the A-10 Thunderbolt II which is based at the headquarters for the Idaho National Guard at Gowen Field in Boise and provides funding to keep them flying in FY16.

  • Provides a 1.3% pay raise for over 1.3 million active-duty troops and nearly 811,000 reserves.

Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations

“Following the recent passage of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization, it is important that we match appropriate funding levels so these programs can succeed,” said Simpson. “Impact Aid is important to the counties and school districts that are impacted by federal activities and I’m glad this bill honors that responsibility.”

  • $1.3 billion—a $17 million dollar increase over FY15 for Impact Aid which benefits Idaho counties and schools.

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What the FY2016 Omnibus Appropriations Bill Means To Idaho

2015/12/17

Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson applauded the release of H.R. 2029, the Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations bill that included many important provisions for Idaho and Western States. 

“I applaud Chairman Rogers and Speaker Ryan for their hard work in assembling this comprehensive and responsible package that will keep the government open through the rest of this fiscal year,” said Simpson. “This bill contains many critical wins for Idaho and Western States.  It avoids the inefficient and negligent practice of funding the government through continuing resolutions, and is instead the product of this past year’s worth of thoughtful deliberation and line-by-line analysis of our budget.  It will make vital investments in our national economy, all while adhering to budget caps that are $56 billion below the Ryan budget for FY16 and $70 billion below the Ryan budget for FY17.  This bill has countless provisions that support conservative priorities and Idaho specifically, I look forward to its swift passage.”

As Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development and Vice Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and Environment, Simpson had a key role in deciding funding levels for Department of Energy and Department of Interior programs, including the following highlights:  


Energy and Water Development

The FY 2016 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill sets funding for the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy at $986 million, an increase of $73 million above fiscal year 2015 and $79 million above the President’s request.  Nuclear energy research and development programs that receive funding within the overall $986 million allocation include:

  • The Idaho Facilities Management account, which covers infrastructure maintenance and improvement at INL, is funded at $222.5 million – an increase of $16.5 million above FY15, and $11 million above the President’s request. 

  • INL’s Safeguards and Security Program is funded at $126.1 million – an increase of $22.1 million over fiscal year 2015.

  • The Nuclear Energy Enabling Technologies program is funded at $111.6 million – an increase of $10.6 million above fiscal year 2015 and $25 million above the President’s request. 

  • Small Modular Reactor Licensing Support Programs are funded at $62.5 million–$8 million above fiscal year 2015.  This funding is slated for 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 $141.7 million – an increase of $8.7 million above fiscal year 2015, and $33.5 million above the President’s request. Within the overall $141.7 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—a $2 million increase from fiscal year 2015; and Used Nuclear Fuel Disposition research and development is funded at $85 million.

  • Within the Office of Naval Reactors, the bill includes $77.2 million for the operation of the Advanced Test Reactor to accelerate planned safety-related infrastructure upgrades, and $86 million is included for the Spent Fuel Handling Recapitalization Project.

  • Within the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, the bill includes $5 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.

  • Within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, $7 million is included to continue performance testing and life cycle diagnostic assessment activities that validate and verify advanced battery performance. 

 “The Energy and Water division of the omnibus continues to support accelerating nuclear innovation programs and addressing much needed infrastructure enhancements at the Idaho National Laboratory,” said Chairman Mike Simpson.  “INL plays a vital national and international role in leading the development of new nuclear technologies, and this bill will help maintain and expand that role in the future.  We are so lucky to have this world class facility in our backyard, with a workforce that constantly pushes the bound of scientific research; we must ensure its capabilities are protected and maximized.”

The bill also provides $396 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 of $396 million is an increase of $16.5 million above fiscal year 2015 and $36 million above the President’s request, which will allow the significant cleanup activities currently underway to continue. The bill also includes an additional $2 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.  Finally, the bill includes $2 million for dynamic threat assessments at Idaho National Laboratory to create innovative assessment tools for the US government on high consequence threats to the electric grid, oil and gas, and nuclear energy sectors. 


Transportation, Housing and Urban Development

The bill includes language to increase to 129,000 pounds from the current allowance of 105,500 pounds will put Idaho in line with neighboring states and with Idaho’s state highways, which currently allow trucks up to 129,000 pounds.   The current weight limit has made it difficult for Idaho producers to ship goods to, from, and through the state.  A higher weight limit means trucks will have more axles than traditional trucks, distributing the weight in such a way that there is less weight on each axle than a standard truck.  It also will reduce the number of trucks on the road. 

“I am so pleased to see the important language allowing trucks weighing up to 129,000 pounds on Idaho interstates included in the omnibus,” said Simpson.  “This change has long been sought by the State of Idaho because it will remove the competitive disadvantage the state currently faces, and will be a major generator of economic activity in Idaho.  By ensuring that Idaho’s vehicle laws match those of its neighboring states, Idaho can more efficiently play a larger role in transferring goods without impacting road safety.”


Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee

In addition to providing $4.2 billion for wildfire programs, the Interior portion of the bill:

  • Includes full funding of the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program, which compensates counties for the losses in property tax as a result of a high percentage of federal land.  Idaho counties received $28,609,614 in PILT funding for FY15.

  • Provides $545 million for hazardous fuels reduction activities—a $19 million increase over FY15, and $360 million for the timber program—a $21 million increase of FY15.

  • Cuts EPA funding by $452 million below the President’s budget request, holding the agency’s budget at 21% below FY10 levels.

  • Provides $1 million to compensate ranchers for livestock killed by wolves.

  • Continues language making litigation costs more transparent and extending requirements that litigants exhaust administrative review before litigating grazing issues in Federal court.

  • Includes a 3-year extension of the Land and Water Conservation Fund, with 50% of program funding going to state and local recreation, conservation, and battlefield protection programs.

“This bill makes a critical and significant investment in preventing and fighting wildfires," said Simpson.  "This year's fire season was so terrible that the Forest Service and DOI had already gone half a billion dollars over budget by mid-August and ultimately had to transfer $700 million from other non-fire accounts in order to keep putting out fires.  This bill provides $4.2 billion for wildfire suppression and prevention programs, which includes $1 billion in firefighting reserve funds.  As the cost of fighting wildfires increases, this increased funding will provide the agencies with the resources they need to respond to wildfires without decimating forest management accounts in the process.  The bill also includes important funding for hazardous fuels activities and timber management accounts, which will give the Forest Service tools to improve forest health and ultimately reduce the impact of wildfires.

“Fire borrowing remains a problem and I am hopeful that this increased funding will address the issue for the coming fiscal year, giving us an opportunity to push a long-term solution like the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act across the finish line”


Agriculture

  • Includes language that preserves Agricultural Research Service (ARS) research programs which includes the U.S. Sheep Experimental Station (USSES) in Dubois, Idaho. The administration attempted to close the facility in 2014 without notifying Congress.

  • Includes language that repeals mandatory country-of-origin-labeling (COOL) which ensures the U.S. will no longer violate international trade policy. Last week, the World Trade Organization announced that Canada and Mexico could seek $1 billion in retaliatory tariffs due to COOL. This would have significant impacts on Idaho agriculture with estimated tariffs as high as $172 million on Idaho exports. Congressman Simpson supported passage of standalone legislation to repeal COOL in June, which passed the House with wide bipartisan support.  

“I am very pleased the omnibus includes language that maintains the mission at Dubois,” said Simpson. “Because of its location, and expertise, the Dubois staff are working on unique issues, including research on the domestic-wildlife interface that is vital to the sheep industry’s future. I am also pleased that COOL repeal was included as just today Mexico and Canada announced that they are prepared to seek retaliatory tariffs should this bill not pass.”


Defense

The defense portion of the bill denies the administration’s request to retire the A-10 Thunderbolt II which is based at the headquarters for the Idaho National Guard at Gowen Field in Boise and provides funding to keep them flying in FY16. The bill also includes:

  • Provides a 1.3% pay raise for over 1.3 million active-duty troops and nearly 811,000 reserves.

“By ensuring the A-10 remains available for close air support, we are responding to the needs of the service members that operate them and to the brave men and women on the ground that rely on them,” said Simpson. “While I certainly acknowledge that the Air Force must make difficult decisions in this time of reduced budgets, the A-10’s low operating costs and unique capabilities merit our continued support until an appropriate replacement can be identified.”


Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations

  • $1.3 billion—a $17 million dollar increase over FY15 for Impact Aid which benefits Idaho counties and schools. 

“Following the recent passage of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act reauthorization, it is important that we match appropriate funding levels so these programs can succeed,” said Simpson. “Impact Aid is important to the counties and school districts that are impacted by federal activities and I’m glad this bill honors that responsibility.”

The House is scheduled to vote on H.R. 2029 on Friday, December 18th.  Links to the bill text and reports can be found here: https://rules.house.gov/bill/114/hr-2029-sa

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Chairman Mike Simpson Praises Release of FY16 Omnibus Appropriations Act

2015/12/16

The House Appropriations Committee released FY2016 Omnibus Appropriations bill last night. This legislation includes funding for the 12 annual Appropriations bills through the end of the fiscal year, September 30, 2016.

Many provisions that are critical to Idaho are included in the legislation. Chairman Simpson secured increased funding for operations and research at the INL, funding for the A-10 at Gowen Field, and full funding for the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program. Simpson’s language allowing trucks weighs up to 129,000 pounds on Idaho Interstates is also in the bill. Along with these provisions for Idaho, the legislation includes numerous important policy items that increase transparency and accountability to federal agencies and stop the administrative overreach.

Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson, who chairs the Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water, released the following statement:

“I applaud Chairman Rogers and Speaker Ryan for their hard work in assembling this comprehensive and responsible package that will keep the government open through the rest of this fiscal year,” said Simpson.  “This bill contains many critical provisions for Idaho and Western States, including increased funding for operations and research at the INL, continued funding for the A-10 at Gowen Field, and full funding for the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program, on which rural counties throughout Idaho depend.  I was also very pleased to see my language allowing trucks weighing up to 129,000 pounds on Idaho Interstates.  This is something I have been seeking for years on behalf of Idaho Transportation Department, and it will be a major generator of economic activity in Idaho. 

 

“This bill avoids the inefficient and negligent practice of funding the government through continuing resolutions,” continued Simpson, “and is instead the product of this past year’s worth of thoughtful deliberation and line-by-line analysis of our budget.  It is an important step back toward regular order, it contains many provisions that support conservative priorities, and I look forward to its swift passage.” 

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Simpson Opposes Egregious EPA Water Takeover Plan

2015/12/03

Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson signed onto an amicus brief regarding the recent decision by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in the American Farm Bureau Federation v. United States Environmental Protection Agency.  The brief outlines concerns about the EPA’s overreach in the Chesapeake Bay blueprint, in which the EPA has issued an ultimatum to states that if they don’t follow the federal blueprint, they risk the EPA taking over their water quality plans under the Clean Water Act.

“We’ve seen a lot of examples of EPA overreach throughout the Obama Administration,” said Simpson, “but this is one of the most egregious.  The Third Circuit Court has basically handed the EPA the right to usurp states’ authority over their own water, as long as the law doesn’t expressly prohibit them doing so.  This is totally backwards—agencies should only act when Congress expressly authorizes them to do so, and the idea that Congress should have to pass laws to prohibit each and every activity that an agency could do is ludicrous.  If this can happen in the Chesapeake Bay area, it can happen in Idaho, and I am extremely concerned about the implications of this decision.”

Simpson sits on the subcommittee that oversees the budget for the EPA.  He has long opposed efforts by the Obama Administration to expand the agency’s jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act.

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Contact Information

2312 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone 202-225-5531
Fax 202-225-8216
www.house.gov/simpson

Committee Assignments

Appropriations

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.


Serving With

Raul Labrador

IDAHO's 1st DISTRICT

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