Congressman Mike Simpson and Congressman Raul Labrador have introduced legislation to address the routing of the Gateway West Transmission Line, through the Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area (NCA). The project – jointly proposed by Idaho Power and Rocky Mountain Power - will construct and operate 1,000 miles of high voltage transmission line across Wyoming and Idaho and creates more than 1,200 jobs and represents $3.5 billion in economic investment. The legislation is a compromise agreement between key stakeholders in Idaho including the State of Idaho, Idaho Power, and conservation organizations.
The compromise agreement will allow the transmission line to be routed using the preferred alternative of the Bureau of Land Management’s Resource Advisory Council (RAC) and is supported by the State of Idaho and Idaho Power. The agreement also includes land in the NCA being removed from NCA status and managed as BLM multiple use land. In exchange, the Birds of Prey NCA will receive enhanced mitigation and conservation measures and an additional 4,800 acres will be added to the NCA. These balanced conservation provisions were agreed to by key stakeholders.
“This agreement is a perfect example of collaboration resulting in a win-win solution,” said Congressman Simpson. “I applaud the Conservation Lands Foundation and Idaho Power for their pragmatic approach to a complex issue which will result in both savings for Idaho ratepayers and conservation benefits to the Birds of Prey National Conservation Area. I also appreciate the work of the BLM, who helped create this vision and will ultimately be tasked with the heavy lifting of implementation.”
“This bill represents the conclusion of years of hard work by stakeholders,” said Congressman Labrador. “The Gateway West project will have a significant positive impact on Idaho. I am looking forward to moving this bill through the Natural Resources Committee and working with Representative Simpson and our Senators to see this project to the finish line.”
The legislation was referred to the House Natural Resources Committee. The legislation is also supported by Idaho Senators Jim Risch and Mike Crapo who were instrumental in building consensus on the agreement.
“This legislation is the culmination of a common-sense, consensus agreement between state and local representatives to best provide for Idaho's energy needs and promote the region's energy infrastructure moving forward,” said Senator Risch. “I applaud Congressman Mike Simpson for taking the lead and introducing this bill in the House of Representatives and look forward to working with my Senate colleagues to enact this legislation into law. I also want to thank Idaho Power and the Conservation Lands Foundation for their work--finding a balanced solution that best suits Idaho.”
“This legislation is necessary to ensure the voices of local property owners and stakeholders are truly represented in the siting of this project,” said Senator Mike Crapo.
“The Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area was designated in 1993 to protect the greatest concentration of nesting raptors in North America. It is extraordinary habitat,” stated Danielle Murray, Senior Director at the Conservation Lands Foundation. “This legislation expands protections for raptors and eagles while allowing for the development of much needed energy infrastructure. We thank BLM for all their work to protect this region and to Rep. Mike Simpson and Idaho Power for their willingness to engage with stakeholders to develop a sensible solution to a complex problem.”
"I'm grateful to Congressman Simpson and our delegation for helping advance an important economic development priority for Idaho," Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter said. "We have been working on the Gateway West transmission line throughout my tenure as governor. I'm hopeful that this legislation, along with the support of key stakeholders, will finally move this critical infrastructure improvement forward."
The agreement also has the support of key conservation groups in Idaho including the Idaho Conservation League, The Nature Conservancy, and The Wilderness Society.
"The Idaho Conservation League supports this solution to a difficult challenge,” said ICL Executive Director Rick Johnson. We appreciate the diligent work of Rep. Mike Simpson, Conservation Lands Foundation, and other partners to provide as close to a win-win solution as can be imagined. Personally, having worked on the creation of the Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area with Rep. Larry LaRocco in 1993, I am pleased to see how this resolution further the goals of that designation and provides a forward path for our region's energy infrastructure."
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson this week supported legislation to improve hiring practices at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and to protect the Second Amendment Rights of veterans.
H.R. 1259, the VA Accountability First Act, gives the VA Secretary increased flexibility to remove, demote, or suspend VA employees for performance or misconduct. This bill was introduced to streamline administrative action against underperforming employees at VA facilities. The bill also ensures protections for whistleblowers.
“Our nation’s veterans deserve the best possible healthcare, administered by the best possible providers,” said Simpson. “I applaud efforts to hold bad actors accountable, and this legislation will help the VA do just that.”
H.R. 1367, a bill to improve the authority of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to hire and retain physicians and other employees of VA, would create staffing, recruitment, and retention programs to ensure that VA hires and retains the best and brightest in the field.
“This legislation will ensure that VA is hiring and retaining top quality physicians for our veterans while streamlining bureaucratic hiring processes,” said Simpson. “It puts our focus exactly where it should be—providing efficient and effective medical care to veterans.”
H.R. 1181, the Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act, would protect the 2nd Amendment rights of veterans who have been appointed a fiduciary from the VA. Currently, such veterans are labeled mentally incompetent and their names are sent to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s National Criminal Background Check System. This has the potential to prohibit these veterans from legally purchasing or owning a firearm. H.R. 1181 would require a magistrate or judicial authority ruling declaring that the beneficiary is a danger to themselves or others before VA can label them “mentally defective.”
“The right to due process should be afforded to all citizens, especially to the men and women who protect this right for their fellow Americans,” emphasized Simpson.
All three bills were passed by the House of Representatives and will now move to the U.S. Senate for further review and action.
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson issued the following statement concerning the release of President Trump’s Budget Blueprint.
“The Administration’s budget blueprint has given us a sense of what President Trump’s priorities will be in the coming fiscal year. I look forward to receiving the full budget soon so that Congress can get to work and get back to regular order in our budget and appropriations process. Once we receive the full budget, our subcommittee will do what it does every year; it will scrutinize the request and hold hearings with administration officials to inform our line-by-line funding decisions. The power of the purse ultimately lies with Congress, and it is Congress that will need to strike the balance between cutting unnecessary programs and protecting vital ones that foster economic growth and increase national security.”
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson praised passage of H.R. 1301, the Fiscal Year (FY) 17 Defense Appropriations bill. Simpson supported the legislation which fulfills the constitutional responsibility of Congress to provide for the common defense by funding the Department of Defense.
“This bill provides our troops with the tools necessary to keep us safe at home and abroad while providing service members and their families with the support they deserve,” said Simpson. “With an ever-changing enemy, we have to ensure our military is ready to protect us from those who want to do us harm.”
Crucially, the bill also provides funding for the A-10 Thunderbolt II, which currently operates at Gowen Field in Boise, and is essential to the mission there. The FY17 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) contained language preventing the retirement of the A-10 Thunderbolt II.
The bill also provides for a 2.1% pay raise for over 1.3 million active-duty and 810,000 Guard and Reserve troops authorized in the FY17 NDAA.
H.R. 1301 passed the House of Representatives with a bipartisan vote of 371-48.
U.S. Senators Steve Daines (R-MT) and Jon Tester (D-MT) and U.S. Representatives Mike Simpson (R-ID) and Collin Peterson (D-MN) today underscored the urgency in reversing the ruling of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cottonwood Environmental Law Center v. U.S. Forest Service by introducing bipartisan bicameral legislation to do just that.
The bill seeks to codify the position taken by the Obama administration that federal agencies are not required to consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service at a programmatic level when new critical habitat is designated or a new species is listed.
“We need to take action immediately to reverse this disastrous court ruling that negatively impacts forest health, recreation, and watershed and habitat protection,” Daines stated. “This bipartisan legislation enjoys the support of diverse stakeholders and will protect Montana jobs and the commonsense collaborative forest management projects that have been harmed by this court decision.”
“The Cottonwood decision could lead to endless red tape for folks working on timber projects, trail maintenance, and conservation efforts,” Tester said. “To restore certainty for Montana mills and folks who work in the woods, we need to eliminate these hurdles created by the court and get this bipartisan bill signed into law.”
“Managing our forests is already challenging enough with increasing costs of wildfires,” said Simpson. “The last thing our land managers need is a duplicative process that prevents the Forest Service from pursuing important projects that improves forest health and increases access to our public lands. Congress must move swiftly to reverse the Cottonwood decision before it unnecessarily delays this seasons planned management activities.”
“Ongoing working forest management projects should not be interrupted for bureaucratic reasons because it wastes time and precious dollars. As an avid sportsman, I look forward to this bill moving through Congress,” said Peterson.
Currently there are conflicting circuit court interpretations in the Ninth (Cottonwood Environmental Law Center v. Forest Service) and Tenth Circuits (Forest Guardians v. Forsgren) on this matter of wide-ranging import, but in October 2016 the Supreme Court denied the Department of Justice’s petition to settle the discrepancy.
According to the U.S. Forest Service, 80 vegetation management projects and hundreds of millions of board feet are at risk due to Cottonwood.
Daines and Tester introduced comparable legislation in the 114th Congress. Former U.S. Representative Ryan Zinke introduced the House companion.
The members’ bill is supported by:
The text of the bill can be found HERE.
Congratulations to Secretary of Energy, Rick Perry on his confirmation. Secretary Perry will face a number of critical issues including maintaining our nuclear deterrent, overseeing the national lab system as they push the bounds of scientific research and development, and meeting our commitments to states on nuclear cleanup. As Chairman of the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, I look forward to working with Secretary Perry to promote national security, pursue a truly all-of-the-above energy policy, and enhance American competitiveness.
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson issued the following statement after President Donald Trump’s first Address to Congress.
“President Trump discussed a myriad of topics and I am looking forward to working with the Administration to implement policies that create jobs and fuel economic growth. Fundamental tax reform, entitlement reform and regulatory reform are essential to address our nation’s debt crisis once and for all.
“As I talk to farmers, ranchers, and businesses throughout Idaho about the economic challenges they face, the common theme I hear is that tax and regulatory uncertainty from the last 8 years has forced them to hunker down and wait out the regulatory and bureaucratic storm rather than investing in their businesses and creating new jobs. If we truly want to get our budget deficit under control, these issues need to be addressed so our economy can grow beyond its current lackluster rate.
“I am also extremely pleased that President Trump discussed immigration reform. The reality is Congress has not passed meaningful immigration reform. It is not an American or Republican value to split up families - it is not who we are. We need to solve this problem and focus on deporting violent criminals while passing comprehensive immigration reform that creates a legal workforce.
“There is also a lot of concern and discussion about the Affordable Health Care Act, the simple truth is if we do nothing, Obamacare will fall of its own weight. Speaker Ryan is working extremely hard to present a replacement that will address our nation’s healthcare needs. The reality is we are not going to repeal Obamacare without a replacement that ensures Americans have access to care.
“Finally, now more than ever, our country needs to put politics aside and find common ground for the greater good. I am willing, many of my colleagues are willing, and the American public needs to be willing as well to seek and pursue what unites us in order to move our country forward.”
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson applauds the Trump Administration’s executive order that directs the Army Corps of Engineers and EPA to review and reconsider an Obama Administration rule that would expand the definition of “waters of the United States.”
Simpson chairs the appropriations subcommittee overseeing the budget for the US Army Corps of Engineers and sits on the subcommittee overseeing the budget for the EPA. In those roles, he has authored language passed by the House that would prevent the EPA and the US Army Corps of Engineers from expanding their regulatory jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act. Implementation of the rule was already on hold as a federal appeals court was considering a legal challenge filed by states.
“Under the Obama Administration, the EPA attempted to drastically expand the reach of EPA regulations to ground water, farm ponds, and ditches,” said Congressman Simpson. “Simply put, the rule was a shot across the bow to westerners because water is life. I applaud this Administration for taking the first step in rolling back this potentially burdensome regulation. The directive will give Idahoans the relief I have been advocating for since the rule was first proposed.”
The controversial rule would expand the definition of “waters of the United States” by removing the word “navigable.” As a result, federal regulation under the Clean Water Act could apply to virtually all water, including ground water. States currently regulate non-navigable water.
Washington, DC – The Idaho Congressional Delegation today announced its 2017 Service Academy Days across Idaho. Each Service Academy Day session offers students, parents, and counselors the opportunity to meet with liaisons, cadets, and midshipmen from each of the nation’s respective service academies and provides an opportunity for questions. Staff from Idaho’s four Congressional delegation offices will be on hand to answer questions about the application process for students who are seeking a nomination to our service academies.
This year, the United States Military Academy at West Point; the U.S. Naval Academy; the U.S. Air Force Academy, and; the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy will all be represented at each event. While a Congressional nomination is not needed to attend the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, representatives will also be in attendance.
Following are the details of each the Service Academy Day:
Thursday, March 02, 2017
Lewiston High School
1114 9th Avenue
Thursday, March 09, 2017
North Idaho College
Edminster Student Union Building
495 College Drive
Saturday, April 01, 2017
NOTE: Picture ID Is required for entrance to the base.
Saturday, April 15, 2017
Idaho National Guard Armory
575 West 21st Street
Students who wish to learn more about applying for a military academy nomination but are unable to attend one of the Academy Day events are invited to contact any of the following Academy coordinators for information:
Sen. Mike Crapo’s Office
Sen. Jim Risch
Congressman Mike Simpson
Congressman Raul Labrador
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson joined 42 Members of Congress in cosponsoring H.R. 1121, the Pre-Existing Conditions Protection Act of 2017. The legislation was introduced on Thursday, by Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee Greg Walden (R-OR) and would ensure patients would not have benefits excluded from a plan due to a pre-existing condition and would not pay more based on health status.
“It is clear that Idahoans want patient-centered reforms that put health care decisions into the hands of patients,” said Simpson. “That is why I cosponsored Chairman Walden’s bill to protect patients with pre-existing conditions. Preserving access and providing safeguards is a perfect example of a patient-centered reform that puts consumers in the driver’s seat.”
The House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing earlier this month that examined coverage for pre-existing conditions and other patient-centered reforms. Simpson has supported similar reforms during the 113th and 114th Congress as part of the American Healthcare Reform Act.
“I have heard from many Idahoans who also support this common sense idea and I look forward to building on this proposal as a foundation for a stable health care market.”
2312 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
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.