Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson has signed on as an original cosponsor of H.R. 594, the Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act, which would support the existing partnership between states and the federal government by preventing the Environmental Protection Agency (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 EPA proposed rule expanding its jurisdiction over water throughout the country. Congressman Simpson was also a cosponsor of this legislation when it passed the House of Representatives in the 113th Congress.
“This bill responds to some of the most troubling aspects of the EPA’s efforts to expand its jurisdiction,” said Simpson. “The EPA initially claimed that its rule would provide clarity and flexibility, unfortunately this is not the case. Idahoans have serious concerns about how the EPA may decide to interpret this rule in the future, thus causing even more uncertainty than they have now.”
The Waters of the United States Regulatory Overreach Protection Act expands on the achievements of House Republicans in the FY15 Cromnibus bill which included provisions restricting the application of the Clean Water Act in certain agricultural areas, such as soil and water conservation practices, from regulation.
“This bill recognizes 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,” said Simpson. “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.”
Simpson has long been a leader on this issue. As Chairman of the House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, he included similar language in the 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 the proposed rule.Read More
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson, alongside Congresswoman Robin Kelly (IL-02), has co-introduced H.R. 539, the ‘Action for Dental Health Act of 2015.’ This legislation will target relatively modest but crucial federal dollars to organizations to provide proven oral health care services in a manner that effectively addresses the barriers to dental care that people often face. Without spending any additional dollars, the bill would have a significant impact on communities that are underserved.
“Early diagnosis, intervention and preventive treatments can stop the progress of most oral diseases,” said Simpson. “Not only do individuals often suffer from severe pain, but it also adds unnecessary costs to the health care delivery system, costs that could have been minimized or eliminated had the disease been caught in its early stages.”
“Regular visits to the dentist do more than keep your smile attractive – they can tell a lot about your overall health, including whether or not you may be developing a disease like diabetes or if you’re at risk for a stroke,” said Kelly. “Our bill helps to create healthier communities by breaking down barriers to oral healthcare and will ultimately help reduce unnecessary healthcare costs by minimizing and eliminating dental diseases in their early stages.”
H.R. 539 redirects existing federal dollars to initiatives that have a real impact on dental access disparities. It includes programs that reduce the number of people who visit emergency rooms by diverting them to private dental practices, where in some cases they can repay the cost of their care with community service activates, expansion of care in nursing homes and for the elderly, support of charitable organizations, improving collaboration with health professionals, and several other provisions.
The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.Read More
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson supported a House package of 12 bills to protect those most at risk to human and sex trafficking in the United States and abroad. The legislation would build on the bipartisan efforts of last Congress by boosting resources to our law enforcement officers and providing support to the victims of trafficking crimes.
“Many Americans think that human trafficking is a chapter from our past. Unfortunately these crimes are real and too often occur here in the U.S.,” said Simpson. “By passing these important bills we are prioritizing resources within the leading agencies that deal with these heinous crimes.”
According to the FBI, sex trafficking is the fastest growing organized crime and the third largest criminal enterprise in the world. The numbers are sobering; an estimated 293,000 American youth are currently at risk of becoming victims of commercial sexual exploitation, and 100,000 children are believed to be actual victims of trafficking every year in the United States. 17,500 people are believed to be trafficked into the United States each year from other countries; while between 600,000 and 800,000 people are trafficked worldwide. Most trafficking is related to sexual exploitation, and most trafficked persons are female.
Several of the bills passed in the House package take aim at putting an end to this by restricting the passports of people convicted of sex crimes in other countries, increasing training among State Department employees so they are better equipped to identify and protect victims, and encouraging states to adopt ‘safe harbor’ laws and protect the victims of these horrific crimes.
All 12 bills will now head to the Senate for consideration.Read More
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson issued the following statement after the President State of the Union Address.
“The President has put forward his vision for our nation, now it’s time for a Republican Congress to do the same. The President wants to increase taxes on investments and earnings, while Republicans want to empower the middle class by reforming our outdated tax code – making it fairer, simpler, and more conducive to economic growth. The President wants to increase regulations and drive up the cost of energy, while Republicans want to build the Keystone XL Pipeline and sustain our move toward true energy independence. The President wants to throw hundreds of billions of dollars at a litany of new federal programs, while Republicans want to continue progress on reducing the deficit and creating new jobs. The President touts his “free” federal programs, while Republicans know that “free” federal help places an additional strain on America's already overburdened taxpayers. I look forward to the coming debate on the critical issues facing our nation and to a Republican agenda that puts the priorities of American families ahead of failed policies of the past.”Read More
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson today supported legislation to reform the regulatory process and reduce the uncertainty plaguing our economy as a result of the Obama Administration’s excessive regulatory rule writing. H.R. 185, the Regulatory Accountability Act of 2015, passed the House by a vote of 250-175.
“Like many Americans, I have been stunned by the volume and scope of regulations promulgated by the Administration. I consistently hear from Idahoans that these rules are making it more difficult for them to do business and are putting a damper on the economy,” said Simpson. “Our government needs to take a close look at the economic effects of federal mandates, instead of saddling our job-creators and small businesses with more burdensome and costly regulations.”
The Regulatory Accountability Act makes the regulatory process more transparent, agencies more accountable and regulations more cost-effective through the following provisions:
Requiring advance notice of proposed major rulemakings to increase public participation and input before costly agency positions are proposed and entrenched.
Requiring agencies to use the best reasonably obtainable science and choose the lowest cost rulemaking alternative that meets statutory objectives.
Permitting costlier rules when there are needs to protect public health, safety, or welfare, but requiring the disclosure of the benefits of those rules to justify their additional costs.
Providing on-the-record but streamlined administrative hearings in the highest-impact rulemakings—those that impose $1 billion or more in annual costs—so interested parties can subject critical evidence to cross-examination.
After passage, H.R. 185 now moves to the Senate for consideration.
In addition to supporting the Regulatory Accountability Act, Simpson is a cosponsor of the Regulations from the Executive In Need of Scrutiny Act, commonly referred to as the REINS Act. This legislation would require Congress to approve major regulations by federal agencies, including any regulation that has an impact of more than $100 million.
The total cost of regulations from federal agencies is estimated at $1.86 trillion annually. “Each year, federal agencies issue thousands of new regulations affecting the entire American economy; this often negatively impacts job growth,” said Simpson. “Congress needs to reestablish its authority to oversee these rules in order to reduce the burden on all businesses and stimulate real economic growth.”
The REINS Act is currently under consideration in the House Judiciary Committee and the House Rules Committee.Read More
Congressman Mike Simpson has introduced H.R. 129, the Idaho Safe and Efficient Vehicle Act of 2015. The bill will increase the allowed weight of trucks on Idaho Interstate Highways to 129,000 pounds. The current allowance is 105,500 pounds.
H.R. 129 would put Idaho in line with neighboring states and with Idaho’s state highways, which currently allow trucks up to 129,000 pounds. The State of Idaho has completed a comprehensive ten-year study which found the weight increase would have no significant impact on roadway safety, nor would it significantly impact the structural soundness of Idaho’s bridges or pavement.
“Last year we came closer than ever to this legislation becoming a reality,” said Congressman Simpson. “It is a common sense reform that not only puts Idaho on equal footing with its neighbors, but actually extends our system’s life by making it work better.”
A higher weight limit means trucks must have more axels than traditional trucks, distributing the weight in such a way that there is less weight on each axel than a standard truck. It also would reduce the number of trucks on the road.
Idaho’s current weight allowance is significantly less than that of neighboring states Montana, Wyoming, Utah and Nevada, as well as British Columbia, Canada, causing difficulty for producers who ship goods on the Interstate across and into Idaho. Additionally, heavier trucks are currently allowed to travel all throughout Idaho, but not where they should be travelling – on Idaho’s Interstates. Instead, they are navigating state highways, intersections, pedestrian areas, railroad tracks, and school zones.
“This bill puts heavy trucks where they belong, on the Interstate,” added Simpson. “Congress needs to take action to improve our transportation system, and make it work better for everyone who uses it. This legislation would do just that.”
Simpson’s bill will require passage in the House and the Senate before heading to the President’s desk to be signed into law.Read More
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson and Oregon Congressman Kurt Schrader reintroduced legislation to make common sense changes to the federal wildfire budget. H.R. 167, the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act, which was cosponsored by nearly 150 Members of Congress and supported by a broad coalition of over 300 organizations in the 113th Congress, aims to make sure the way we budget for wildfire suppression activities makes sense by ending the destructive cycle of fire borrowing and treating catastrophic wildfires like other natural disasters.
“There are a number of steps that we need to take to address forest health and management issues, but fixing the wildfire suppression budget must be the first one,” said Simpson. “Until we address this issue, anything we do to increase needed management activities in the forests, like hazardous fuels removal, timber harvest, conservation, or trail maintenance, will continue to be lost in fire transfers. Fixing the wildfire budget is the critical first step in making our forests healthier and, ultimately, reducing the cost of wildfires in the future.”
“Treating catastrophic wildfires like other natural disasters – such as hurricanes and tornadoes – means land management agencies can adequately prepare for the future without jeopardizing their annual funding,” said Congressman Schrader. “ Each year, critical forestry programs face unnecessary budget cuts because they are forced to transfer funds from successful forest management practices to pay for wildfire suppression. Freeing up those financial resources to enhance catastrophic fire prevention programs will ultimately reduce costs on the federal government and help us better prevent wildfires in the future.”
H.R. 167 would budget for catastrophic wildfires in the same way as other natural disasters, like floods and hurricanes. Under the bill, routine wildland firefighting costs, which make up about 70% of the cost of wildfire suppression, would be funded through the normal budgeting and appropriations process. The true emergency fire events, which represent about 1% of wildland fires but make up 30% of costs, would be treated like similar major natural disasters and funded under existing disaster programs.
“The way we currently budget for fire is costing taxpayers and destroying our forests,” said Simpson. “Passing this legislation will have a significant and long-term impact on both our public lands and on our budget, allowing us to finally budget responsibly for wildfire suppression in a way that ultimately decreases firefighting costs by mitigating fire risk and making us better prepared for and more resilient against future fires.”Read More
The House of Representatives has unanimously passed the Newborn Screening Saves Lives Reauthorization Act, co-authored by Congressman Mike Simpson and Congresswoman Lucile Roybal-Allard (CA). The bill will reauthorize newborn screening programs for five years while updating and building upon the landmark 2008 Newborn Screening Saves Lives Act first offered by Simpson and Roybal-Allard.
“I am pleased to see the House pass the Newborn Screening Saves Lives Reauthorization Act and send it to the President for his signature,” said Congressman Simpson. “I am so grateful to Congresswoman Roybal-Allard for her dedication to this issue. She has truly led the way in making this bill a reality.”
“I have repeatedly said that this bill is as important as any we will pass this year,” Simpson continued. “These crucial screening tests detect conditions that are too often undetected at birth and if left untreated can cause disability, developmental delay, illness, or even death. Conditions quickly identified lead to better outcomes and saved lives, often at a reduced cost. ”
Congresswoman Roybal-Allard added, “Our collective efforts to rapidly identify and treat these disorders are making a difference between health and disability, and even life and death, for the children affected by these severe diseases.”
Newborn screening is run by individual states, but the original 2008 Newborn Screening Saves Lives Act first encouraged states to uniformly test for a recommended set of disorders, and provided resources for individual states to grow their own screening programs. Before that legislation, state screening varied greatly, with only 10 states requiring infants to be screened for all the treatable “core conditions” recommended. Today, most states require screening for at least 29 of the 31 core conditions.
The test consists of a simple prick on the heel of newborns before they leave the hospital. That blood sample tests for serious genetic, metabolic, or hearing disorders that may not be apparent at birth. Without the test, parents may have no way of knowing their child needs treatment.
“Newborn screening represents a major public health success story that has preserved the lives and health of tens of thousands of newborns,” stated March of Dimes President Dr. Jennifer L. Howse. “The March of Dimes is deeply grateful to Rep. Mike Simpson for being a tireless champion of the Newborn Screening Saves Lives Reauthorization Act. With this legislation, we have ensured that the over 20,000 babies born in Idaho each year will continue to receive potentially life-saving newborn screening tests.”
“Besides the obvious benefit to families who suffer an enormous emotional and economic burden when a one of these conditions goes undiagnosed for too long, this legislation is a powerful tool for savings in our already overburdened health care system,” added Simpson. “As a former dentist, I have seen the value of diagnosing and treating a condition early in a child’s life, and this bill will help strengthen newborn screening across the country.”
One example is found in a 2012 study on severe combined immunodeficiency, known as SCID, which is one of the 31 core conditions recommended for state screening. The Medicaid cost of treating a baby with SCID in the first two years can be $2 million dollars or more. Yet an infant diagnosed early can be cured through a bone marrow transplant in the first three months of life, costing $100,000.
The amended bill already passed in the Senate, and now with House passage heads to the President’s desk for a signature.Read More
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson today applauded the release of H.R. 83, the Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations bill that included many important provisions for Idaho and Western States.
“This bill represents an important step for Congress toward fulfilling its constitutional responsibility to fund government operations through the regular process,” said Simpson. “When we fail to pass annual appropriations bills, we fail to look critically at how agencies spend taxpayer dollars, and lose opportunities to make government work better. We can point to dozens of examples in this bill that support conservative priorities and represent good government that would not have been supported had we continued to fund the government through a Continuing Resolution.”
Simpson is Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development and Vice Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and Environment 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
“I am pleased to report that the Energy and Water portion of the omnibus rejects cuts to nuclear research sought by the Obama Administration and increases funding for many of the vital programs at INL,” said Chairman Mike Simpson. “We’ve worked very hard with the Lab and the people of Eastern Idaho to promote INL, and the funding in this bill will advance the critical contributions that INL makes toward a broad energy security policy in the United States. This bill will have a lasting impact on enhancing the current capabilities of INL and building new, unique capabilities that are essential to the world class researchers at our national laboratory.”
DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy is funded at $914 million, an increase of $24.3 million over the FY14 funding level. Nuclear energy research and development programs that receive funding within the $914 million allocation include several of the following:
The Idaho Operations and Infrastructure account, which covers infrastructure maintenance and improvements at Idaho National Laboratory, is funded at $200.6 million – a $20 million increase over last year.
The National Science User Facility program is funded at $36.5 million – an increase of $18 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 $55 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 $35 million, an increase of $5 million over FY14 and the budget request.
The Reactor Concepts Research, Development, and Demonstration account is funded at $133 million – an increase of $20 million above fiscal year 2014 and $32.5 million above the President’s request. Within the overall $133 million level for this account, $33 million is allocated to fuel qualification for the High Temperature Gas Reactor, $11 million above the budget request.
The Advanced Fuels program within Fuel Cycle Research and Development is funded at $60.1 million, the same as last year and $17 million above the President’s budget request, and Used Nuclear Fuel Disposition research and development is funded at $49 million, $19 million above FY14.
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 FY14.
Within the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, the bill includes $5 million to continue 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. This represents an increase of $13 million above the President’s request to fully support workplan alignments needed for Idaho’s transuranic waste program as a result of the closure of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.
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.
Prohibits the U.S. Corps of Engineers from requiring Clean Water Act section 404 permits for certain agricultural activities, such as construction and maintenance of farm or stock ponds or irrigation ditches.
Directs the U.S Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of the Army to withdraw the interpretive rule, “U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of the Army Interpretive Rule Regarding the Applicability of the Clean Water Act 4 Section 404(f)(1)(A).” Section 404 of the Clean Water Act exempts certain agricultural activities, such as soil and water conservation practices, from regulation. The interpretive rule would have limited that exemption significantly.
Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee
“I’m pleased with a number of public lands provisions in this bill that will have a direct and positive impact on Idaho,” said Simpson. “PILT funding is crucial to Idaho counties, and adequate funding for wildfire suppression is essential, so I’m very glad that this bill fully funds both of those priorities. In addition, the language delaying the sage-grouse ESA listing decision is extremely important to our state. Stakeholders in Idaho have worked hard to create a management plan that will prevent the listing of sage-grouse as an endangered species. Yet even stakeholders who have been at the table since the beginning of this process are concerned that the court-imposed listing deadline has resulted in less collaboration and rushed decisions. They need more time to do the proper work that will warrant a decision not to list the species. By delaying the listing decision, we can provide the BLM with time to do the job right.”
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 $28,579,192 in PILT funding for FY14.
Language prohibiting funding for writing a rule to list the greater sage-grouse as an endangered species, providing stakeholders additional time to craft management plans that would work to prevent a listing.
Full funding for wildfire suppression operations at the 10-year average, as well as $65 million for the Forest Service to acquire needed airtankers to fight wildfires, allowing the agency to phase out antiquated aircraft.
Extends language making litigation costs more transparent and extending requirements that litigants exhaust administrative review before litigating grazing issues in Federal court.
Restores $1 million to compensate ranchers for livestock killed by wolves; and
Prevents agencies from limiting recreational shooting and hunting on federal lands.
“I’m very pleased that my colleagues have shown wide recognition and support for the importance of keeping the A-10,” said Simpson. “The A-10’s past combat performance is lauded by both the service members that operate them and those who rely on them for close air support on the battlefield. 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 any A-10 close-air support aircraft, and provides $337.1 million to keep A-10s flying in FY15.
Prohibits funds from being used to transfer or divest AH-64 Apache helicopters from the Army National Guard to active Army in FY15.
Agriculture and Rural Development Subcommittee
“Fresh potatoes have been excluded from the WIC program despite their widely known nutritional value,” said Simpson. “This bill corrects the exclusion of fresh potatoes and allows WIC participants to make wholesome food choices for their young families.”
Includes a provision lifting a ban on white potatoes from the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program. This language, drafted by Congressman Simpson, ensures that fresh white potatoes and all varieties of fresh vegetables are eligible for purchase through the WIC program.
The House is scheduled to vote on H.R. 83 on Thursday, December 11. Links to the bill text and reports can be found here: http://rules.house.gov/bill/113/hr-83Read More
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson today opposed H.R. 3979, The National Defense Authorization Act because of the authority it extends to the Administration to train and equip the Syrian rebels.
“There are many essential provisions included in H.R. 3979 that I support. However, I opposed the bill because I cannot in good conscience vote to extend additional authority to the Obama administration’s unilateral decision to train and equip Syrian rebel groups,” said Simpson. “A determination to continue to commit billions of dollars and countless other American resources to a new, and potentially years long conflict in the Middle East is too important for Congress to rubber stamp. We need to hold hearings, have a debate and vote after we have a complete picture of what our long-term strategy will be in this conflict. The actions we take now will have long lasting impacts on our national security, budget, and our economy, and I for one do not trust the President with making those decisions alone.”
H.R. 3979 passed with a final vote of 300-119 and now moves to the Senate for 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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Congressman Simpson supports bill to reform regulatory process and reduce uncertainty that harms the economy. http://t.co/3B06je0Rsn
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Simpson introduces truck weight increase legislation to put Idaho on level playing field with neighboring states. http://t.co/ac0bskQx8t
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Simpson and Schrader Reintroduce Legislation to Fix Wildfire Budget http://t.co/knUZjFQMe0