Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson today supported passage of H.R. 3522, the Employee Health Care Protection Act. This bill would allow employees to keep their work sponsored health plans by ensuring that existing group health plans can continue to be sold through 2019. It passed the House 247 to 167.
Last year, millions of plans in the individual insurance market were cancelled due to Obamacare mandates. Now, as many as 50 million workers with full coverage could face cancellation or disruption because their work sponsored plans would not meet new minimal essential coverage requirements.
H.R. 3522 ensures that group health plans that were offered in 2013 remain available and allows small businesses and their employees to purchase these plans regardless of whether they were on them in 2013. The Administration has provided limited relief for group plans that do not comply with Obamacare, but that relief only lasts through 2016. This bill would extend that opportunity to those not previously on such plans, and add three years of reprieve.
The bill expands on the “Keep Your Health Plan Act of 2013,” which applied to individual market plans, and allowed individuals to keep their plans. That bill passed the House late last year.
“The President repeatedly promised that if Americans liked their health plans, they could keep them,” Said Congressman Simpson. “We now know that is not true. This bill would allow the Administration to start making good on that promise and also allow for more affordable coverage options to remain available to more Americans.”
The bill now moves to the Senate for consideration.Read More
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson cosponsored and supported final passage of H.R. 5078, the Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act, that supports the existing partnership between states and the federal government by preventing EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers from redefining “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act. This bill addresses widespread concerns with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new proposed rule expanding its jurisdiction over water throughout the country. H.R. 5078 passed the House with a bipartisan vote 262-152.
Simpson, who has long been a leader on this issue, included language in his FY2015 House Energy and Water Appropriations Act and authored language in the FY2015 House Interior and Environment Appropriations Act to prohibit the agencies from finalizing a rule on this issue, which the agencies proposed earlier this year.
“The EPA’s efforts to expand its jurisdiction under the Clean Water Act by redefining waters of the U.S. have, not surprisingly, resulted in widespread uncertainty and deep concern for the agriculture sector in our state,” said Simpson. “I’m pleased that Congress has acted on this issue to recognize the existing and successful partnerships between states, land users, conservationists, and the federal government and stop the Obama Administration from expanding its jurisdiction over water throughout the U.S.”
H.R. 5078 is now under consideration by the U.S. Senate.
Legislation authored by Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson that would authorize important but routine maintenance at Smith Gulch on the Salmon River in Idaho has passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 398 to 1. H.R. 4283 would allow the use of limited maintenance equipment needed to maintain the routine functions and safety of the existing lodge.
“This legislation clarifies Congress’ intent of the 2004 amendments to the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act which continued the existing use and occupancy of commercial services in this corridor of the Salmon River,” Simpson said. “The use of maintenance equipment would allow the lodge to eliminate the reliance on outdated energy sources and replace them with modest renewable energy sources, all while complying with existing laws.”
Currently, the Forest Service does not believe it has clear authorization to permit the use of the equipment necessary for the general upkeep of the facilities at the lodge. This bill clarifies the authorization so the corridor can be managed as it was intended under the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act.
H.R. 4283 will now move to the U.S. Senate for consideration.
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson today hailed passage of legislation to clarify federal regulation of pesticides by the House of Representatives. H.R. 935, the Reducing Regulatory Burdens Act, would remove duplicative requirements that have added layers of paperwork on top of day-to-day operations for small businesses, farmers, and local governments by clarifying that pesticides which are already regulated under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) are not also regulated under the Clean Water Act. The bill, of which Simpson is a cosponsor, reinstates EPA’s long-standing position on the issue, which was overturned as the result of a lawsuit in 2009.
“This ruling didn’t make applying pesticides any safer; all it did was create duplicative and unnecessary new regulations that cost money and increase the risk of litigation for local governments, irrigation districts, and farmers and ranchers,” said Simpson. “Passing this legislation is common sense, and I’m hopeful that the Senate will act quickly on the bill so that we can address this issue once and for all.”
Simpson has been a cosponsor of similar legislation since 2011. H.R. 935 is bipartisan and widely supported in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. After passing the House by a vote of 267-161 today, it is now under consideration by the U.S. Senate.Read More
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson has cosponsored two new bills to address widespread concerns with the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) new proposed rule expanding its jurisdiction over water throughout the U.S. H.R. 5071, the Agriculture Conservation Flexibility Act, would address some of the most controversial provisions in the proposed rule, withdrawing the Interpretive Rule proposed in March that has resulted in great uncertainty and concern across the agriculture sector. H.R. 5078, the Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act, would support the existing partnership between states and the federal government by preventing EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers from redefining “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act.
“These two bills respond to some of the most troubling aspects of the EPA’s efforts to expand its jurisdiction,” said Simpson. “The EPA initially claimed that its new rule would provide clarity and flexibility for American agriculture, but my initial concerns that this would not be the case have proven true. Farmers across Idaho have expressed to me their serious concern about how the EPA may decide to interpret this rule in the future, leading to even less certainty than they have now.
“Moreover,” he added, “These bills recognize that the EPA’s proposed rule undoes many existing and successful partnerships for cleaning up and maintaining our waterways, whether those are partnerships between farmers, ranchers, and conservationists or local, state, and federal governments. I think it’s an arrogant assumption on the part of the EPA to say that they alone should have such authority over every drop of water across the country.”
H.R. 5071 and H.R. 5078 are currently under committee consideration in the House of Representatives.Read More
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson expressed great satisfaction at the news that H.R. 876, the Idaho Wilderness Water Resources Protection Act, which he authored, has been signed into law. Simpson first introduced the legislation in 2009, and today it was signed by the president.
The Idaho Wilderness Water Resources Protection Act corrects a long-standing oversight in law by authorizing a number of water diversions within the Frank Church-River of No Return Wilderness Area and the Selway-Bitteroot Wilderness Area in Idaho which existed before the wilderness was created. The new law will enable landowners to do the necessary maintenance and repairs on these diversions.
“I’m so pleased that the Idaho Wilderness Water Resources Protection Act has finally been signed into law,” said Simpson. “I introduced this bill five years ago when the Forest Service discovered that it didn’t have the authority to permit repairs on an historic water diversion in the Frank Church. When we looked into the issue, we learned that a number of pre-existing diversions had been overlooked when the wilderness areas were created. Any one of these diversions could need repairs to maintain integrity and protect the surrounded ecosystem. With enactment of this bill, the necessary maintenance and repairs can now be done.”
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson applauded the decision to stop USDA’s planned closure of the U.S. Sheep Experimental Station in Dubois, Idaho. Simpson, who is working with other western representatives to prevent closure of the facility, recently urged the chairman of the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee to deny a request by the Agricultural Research Service to reprogram funds from the sheep station, which would result in its closure. Simpson was pleased to learn that the request has been denied.
“Because of its location and expertise, experts at the Sheep Experimental Station Dubois are conducting research that no other facility is currently able to do, including unique research on the domestic-wildlife interface that is vital to the future of the sheep industry,” said Simpson. “Closing down the Dubois station would effectively end this important research, and it would be a huge loss to American agriculture, which is why my western colleagues and I are fighting so hard to keep it open.”
Last week Congressman Simpson also sent a letter to Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, expressing disappointment that neither the USDA nor ARS notified Congress of their intent to close the Dubois center. In the letter, Simpson and other western Members of Congress expressed concern that neither agency has explained how research currently underway in Dubois would be continued.
“I’m pleased that we have avoided shutting down the Dubois center for now, but I recognize that this decision does not eliminate the potential threat of future closure of the U.S. Sheep Experimental Station,” Simpson said. “I will continue to work with the USDA, University of Idaho, and members of the sheep industry to ensure the long-term viability of the sheep center at Dubois. It is critical that the sheep industry have a voice in future USDA decisions affecting their economic vitality.”Read More
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson today defended western priorities in the House Interior and Environment Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2015. Simpson, a member of the subcommittee, authored a number of provisions that were included in the bill, including language delaying the decision to list the sage-grouse as an endangered species by one year. Simpson successfully fought off efforts to strike this language during full committee consideration today.
“What we’re trying to say [with this language] is to give us the time to do the work that is necessary [to prevent the need for a listing].” Simpson said during the markup. “States like Idaho have been working diligently with the BLM and the Fish and Wildlife Service to develop a plan to preserve sage-grouse habitat. Do you know what the biggest threat to it is? Wildfire. Do you know what one of the things is that prevents those rangeland fires from spreading? Grazing. So there are some conflicts that go on here, and…the states and the federal government together are working hard to develop state management plans that [they can both] support. They just need the time to do it.”
This is complicated, and the states and the federal government are working together to find plans they can both support—they just need the time to do it.”
After the markup was complete, Simpson added, “A decision to list sage-grouse as an endangered species would have wide-reaching and devastating impacts on states like Idaho, and even stakeholders who have been at the table since the beginning of this process, like those in Idaho, are concerned that the court-imposed listing deadline has resulted in less collaboration and rushed decisions. They have acknowledged to me that they need more time to do the good work that will prevent a listing. This is why I once again authored a one-year delay in this bill.”
The bill also reflected Simpson’s influence in a number of other provisions, including full funding of wildfire suppression at the 10-year average, provisions improving the grazing permit process, and language prohibited the EPA from implementing controversial regulations over U.S. waters. The bill was voted out of committee this afternoon.Read More
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson announced that the Fiscal Year 2015 Energy and Water Development Appropriations which passed the House of Representatives this evening, increases funding for critical programs at the Idaho National Laboratory. Simpson is Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, and had the lead role in deciding funding for all Department of Energy programs.
“I am pleased to report that the Energy and Water bill increases funding for many of the vital research efforts at INL,” said Subcommittee Chairman Mike Simpson. “We’ve worked very hard with the Lab and the people of Eastern Idaho to promote INL, its mission, and its vital workforce as keys to a strong nuclear future here in the U.S. and across the globe. The funding increases contained in the bill will have a lasting impact on enhancing the current capabilities of the Lab and building new, unique capabilities that are essential to a vibrant national laboratory. This bill sends a strong message that INL’s work as the DOE’s lead nuclear energy laboratory is critical to our nation’s energy security.”
The FY 2015 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill sets funding for the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy, and the report which accompanied the bill laid out the following funding levels for nuclear energy research and development programs:
The Idaho Facilities Management account, which covers infrastructure maintenance and improvement at Idaho National Laboratory, is funded at $206 million – a $20million increase over the President’s request and $9.4 million above last year.
Idaho National Laboratory’s Safeguards and Security Program is funded at $104 million – an increase of $10 million over fiscal year 2014.
The Nuclear Energy Enabling Technologies program is funded at $101 million – an increase of nearly $30 million above fiscal year 2014 and $22.8 million above the President’s request. Increases under this program are directed to fully complete the installation of post-irradiation examination equipment at INL’s Irradiated Materials Characterization Laboratory (IMCL).
Small Modular Reactor Licensing Support Programs are funded at $54.5 million. 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 $35million, an increase of $5 million over FY2014 and the budget request.
The Reactor Concepts Research, Development, and Demonstration account is funded at $138 million – an increase of $25 million above fiscal year 2014 and $37.5 million above the President’s request. Within the overall $138 million level for this account, $33 million is allocated to fuel qualification for the High Temperature Gas Reactor, $11 million above the budget request.
Fuel Cycle Research and Development is funded at $182 million, $4.5 million below fiscal year 2014 and $7 million below the budget request. Within the fuel cycle program, the Advanced Fuels program is funded at $60.1 million, the same as last year and $17 million above the budget request, and Used Nuclear Fuel Disposition research and development is funded at $55 million, $25 million above fiscal year 2014 and $6 million above the budget request.
Within the Office of Naval Reactors, the bill includes $68 million for the operation of the Advanced Test Reactor, an increase of $1.5 million above fiscal year 2014.
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.
The bill also provides $380 million for cleanup activities associated with the Idaho Cleanup Project and the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project co-located on the Idaho desert with Idaho National Laboratory. The funding level of $380 million is an increase of $13 million above the President’s request and allows 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, $10 million is provided separately for security improvements of spent fuel storage at Fort St. Vrain, Colorado, which is managed by INL. Separate funding will ensure these needs do not impact the progress of ongoing cleanup activities in Idaho.
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 continues Nuclear Regulatory Commission funding for a nuclear waste storage facility at Yucca Mountain and to support the continued adjudication of the Yucca Mountain license application. .
Overall, the Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill provides $34 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.
“The Energy and Water Development bill touches virtually every American in some way and is critical to our nation’s energy and national security,” said Chairman Simpson. "This bill reflects the tough decisions necessitated by our challenging fiscal environment, while placing emphasis where it is needed most: meeting critical national security needs and investing in our nation's infrastructure. It prioritizes the maintenance and safety of our nuclear weapons stockpile, while also funding important infrastructure projects and research that will increase U.S. economic competitiveness and growth."
The bill passed the House by a vote of 253-170, and will next be conferenced with the Senate version of the same bill. The complete Committee Report can be found at: http://appropriations.house.gov/uploadedfiles/hrpt-113-hr-fy2015-energywater.pdfRead More
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson today supported the House Interior and Environment Appropriations bill for FY15 during subcommittee consideration. The bill takes significant steps to protect western interests and reflects Simpson’s influence as a member of the subcommittee. Among Simpson’s priorities included in the bill is full funding for Payment in Lieu of Taxes, a vital program in the west that ensures communities are adequately compensated for the lack of tax revenue due to the presence of federal land.
“Every county in Idaho depends on the federal government meeting its obligations through Payments in Lieu of Taxes,” said Simpson. “PILT is essentially the government’s property tax on the federal land it owns, and it needs to be paid in full and on time. I’m pleased that full funding was included in the Interior bill for FY15. I am also committed to fulfilling the promises made to public lands counties in the long-term and will continue working to provide permanent certainty for Idaho’s counties.”
The bill also fully funds wildfire suppression at the 10-year average, an increase of $149 million over last year’s levels. During the subcommittee markup, Simpson continued to advocate for fixing the flaws in the process of budgeting for wildfire suppression. Simpson’s separate legislation to end the destructive practice of fire borrowing by treating catastrophic wildfires like similar natural disasters has over 100 cosponsors, including every member of the subcommittee. “We’ve got to [pass this bill] if we want to reduce the costs of wildfires in the future,” he said during the markup. “It doesn’t make sense to continue robbing from programs that remove hazardous fuels in order to pay for wildfire suppression. Hopefully we will be able to get this through Congress this year.”
The Interior bill also includes a number of provisions championed by Simpson that benefit Idaho, including:
-Language preventing the EPA from dramatically expanding its jurisdiction over state and local water under the Clean Water Act;
-Permanent extension of language that allows agencies to renew grazing permits while environmental work is completed;
-Language delaying the court-imposed deadline for determining whether to list sage-grouse as an endangered species for one year to enable states and federal agencies to complete work on sage-grouse management plans.
-Language prohibiting the EPA from moving forward with economically harmful proposals to regulate greenhouse gases from stationary sources.
The bill, which was voice voted out of subcommittee, now moves to full committee consideration.Read More
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.
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Simpson supported the Federal Reserve Transparency Act which will provide important oversight for US monetary policy http://t.co/Ih43WQ3RTN
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Yesterday marked the 200th anniversary of the birth of the "Star-Spangled Banner". http://t.co/rtTWYA1IAl
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2) and members of the Armed Forces that so bravely served our country and continue to serve in the name of freedom.
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1) Today we pause to remember and honor the victims of September 11, 2001, the first responders, law enforcement personnel…