Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson’s legislation H.R. 1138, the Sawtooth National Recreation Area and Jerry Peak Wilderness Additions Act, today passed the U.S. House of Representatives without objection.
“Today’s action by the U.S. House of Representatives is a great accomplishment for the thousands of Idahoans working to solve the Boulder White Clouds land management issue,” said Simpson. “I am extremely optimistic that we will continue to move this legislation forward to become law.”
H.R. 1138 will establish certain wilderness areas in central Idaho and authorize various land conveyances involving the National Forest System land and Bureau of Land Management land in central Idaho.
Specifically Simpson’s legislation will do the following:
Senator Jim Risch has sponsored the bill (S. 538) in the U.S. Senate. Risch successfully held a hearing in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests and Mining on May 21, 2015. The Senate version will be marked up in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee this week.Read More
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson voted this week for legislation to bring certainty under EPA’s recently finalized coal ash regulations. H.R. 1734, the Improving Coal Combustion Residuals Regulation Act of 2015, would put states in charge of implementing coal ash regulation in order to ensure that public health and the environment are protected while states’ rights are preserved. The bill passed by a vote of 258-166.
Coal ash is the byproduct of coal combustion and is used to create roads, bridges, and buildings. It is also regularly recycled and used in construction materials. The EPA finalized a rule to regulate coal ash in April. Under H.R. 1734, states would have the authority to implement a coal ash permit program, with EPA implementing a permit program for states that choose not to establish their own.
“While I am concerned about the practical implementation of EPA’s final rule, I do believe that reasonable regulations should be in place regarding coal ash,” said Simpson. “This legislation ensures that human health and the environment are protected without creating a new and unneeded regulatory system, leaving regulation and permitting to the states, where it belongs.”
The bill is now under consideration by the U.S. Senate.Read More
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson’s legislation H.R. 1138, Sawtooth National Recreation Area and Jerry Peak Wilderness Additions Act, today passed the U.S. House Resources Committee by unanimous consent.
“To say I am pleased about the BWC bill moving forward would be an understatement,” said Simpson. “For more than a decade, Idahoans of all walks of life have worked tirelessly on this legislation. It is because of their dedication that we are one step closer to achieving our goal – creating an Idaho solution for managing the Boulder White Clouds.”
H.R. 1138, which will establish certain wilderness areas in central Idaho and to authorize various land conveyances involving National Forest System land and Bureau of Land Management land in central Idaho, and for other purposes. The Sawtooth National Recreation Area and Jerry Peak Wilderness Additions Act will now be considered by the House of Representatives for final passage.
Senator Jim Risch has sponsored the bill in the U.S. Senate, S. 538. Risch successfully held a hearing in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests and Mining on May 21, 2015. The senate bill is waiting to be considered in Senate Resources Committee for final mark-up.
“I greatly appreciate the hard work that Senator Risch and his staff have done to move this legislation through the Senate. It’s been a great effort on both sides to keep the BWC bill moving forward,” said Simpson.Read More
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson voted today for legislation to promote healthier forests and more effective forest management. H.R. 2647, the Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2015, addresses the land management crisis created by catastrophic wildfires, promotes collaborative management projects, and modernizes the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act. Simpson is a cosponsor of the legislation, which passed the House by a vote of 262-167.
“The Forest Service faces a number of very real challenges when it comes to active land management, and I’m pleased with a number of steps that this bill takes to respond to those issues,” said Simpson. “Frivolous lawsuits paralyze federal land management agencies and put management decisions into the hands of the court rather than land managers. This legislation addresses several issues at the heart of this problem.”
“Another major problem,” added Simpson, “is the cost of catastrophic wildfires. Addressing this issue is one of my top legislative priorities, and while this bill takes steps toward that goal, I’m going to continue working on my comprehensive solution to funding catastrophic wildfires.”
Simpson has introduced H.R. 167, the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act, which is bipartisan legislation with broad support intended to fix the budgeting process for wildfire suppression. His bill would treat catastrophic wildfires like similar natural disasters and would end the disastrous process known as “fire borrowing.” When fire suppression costs exceed the budget, the Forest Service is forced to rob from other non-fire accounts—including projects intended to reduce hazardous fuels and make forests less susceptible to fire—in order to keep fighting the fires. “Fire borrowing” was intended as an extraordinary measure, but as wildfires have grown more costly, it has become standard procedure—in fact, fire borrowing has been necessary in 7 of the past 10 years. H.R. 2647 includes language that would allow FEMA to transfer limited funds to the Forest Service and the BLM for fire suppression when the budget has been exhausted.
“Until we address the problem of fire borrowing, funds intended for forest management, including hazardous fuels removal, timber harvest, and trail maintenance, will continue to pay to fire suppression,” said Simpson. “While I believe that Congress should take up the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act in order to fix a number of wildfire budgeting problems, I’m glad that this bill acknowledges these issues and begins to address them.”Read More
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson today praised the House Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee’s decision to preserve ARS research programs including those at the U.S. Sheep Experimental Station (USSES) in Dubois, Idaho. Simpson, who requested the language in the FY16 Agriculture Appropriations Bill, is working with other western representatives to support the USSES.
“I was disappointed when USDA attempted to close USSES last year and failed to provide prior notice to Congress and the sheep industry,” said Simpson. “I am very pleased this appropriations bill includes language that maintains the mission at Dubois. Because of its location and expertise, staff at the Dubois station are working on unique issues, including research on the domestic-wildlife interface that is vital to the sheep industry’s future.”
Congressman Simpson has worked closely with USDA, University of Idaho, and members of the sheep industry throughout the process to ensure the long-term viability of the USSES and the economic activity it generates in the area.
After the committee meeting Simpson said, “The bill passed out of committee today recognizes the station’s valuable work and is an important step towards ensuring the stakeholders and ARS come together to work on a viable, long-term future for USSES.”
The Agriculture Appropriations bill was passed by the House Appropriations Committee on a voice vote.Read More
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson recently supported final passage of two bills that would repeal two of the most unpopular and onerous provisions in Obamacare. H.R. 160, the Protect Medical Innovation Act of 2015, and H.R. 1190, the Protecting Seniors’ Access to Medicare Act of 2015 were both passed by the House of Representatives with bipartisan support.
The Protect Medical Innovation Act passed last Thursday, by a vote of 280-140. It repeals the harmful 2.3% excise tax on medical devices like pacemakers, CT scan machines, and defibrillators.
“The medical device tax has already driven up costs for medical device manufacturers, many of whom have told me they must pass on those costs to the customer in order to stay in business,” said Congressman Simpson. “It is essentially a tax on medical care in this country. That is why I am pleased the House acted in a bipartisan manner to repeal this tax. We should encourage innovation, not tax it.”
H.R. 1190, the Protecting Seniors’ Access to Medicare Act eliminates the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), which is a board of unelected bureaucrats tasked with deciding payment rates for Medicare. Included in Obamacare is authority for IPAB to operate without public meetings or hearings, consider public input on proposals, or make its deliberations open to the public.
“The IPAB is a provision of Obamacare that has concerned me since day one,” said Simpson. “We all know that without effective reform, Medicare as we know it will not be there for our children and grandchildren. Any changes to Medicare must happen in public, with broad input, and with the best interests of the American people in mind. Unfortunately, the IPAB is authorized to act in the completely opposite manner—with the power to impact American’s Medicare benefits behind closed doors and with little public or congressional oversight.”
H.R. 1190 passed the House today by a vote of 244-154 and along with H.R. 160 will be considered in the U.S. Senate.Read More
Today the U.S. House of Representatives voted on a Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill and it passed by a vote of 218-208. Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson supports free trade and supported the legislation.
TPA, known as “fast track,” is not a trade deal. TPA simply sets up a process for Congress to consider trade deals; in this case, Congress expects to consider the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), which is still being negotiated. The TPA bill that the House voted on today guarantees that Congress will maintain a meaningful role in all trade negotiations through increased transparency and ensures that Congress will hold the administration accountable with effective oversight measures. If TPA is signed into law, Congress and the public will have 60 days to review any proposed trade deal before it will come up for a vote. Congress will retain the final say on passage or failure of trade deals, and Congress will reject any proposal that does not serve the best interests of the United States.
“When Congress does consider trade agreements, we need to remember that 95% of the world market is outside of our borders,” said Simpson. “Participating in trade deals is good for the American economy and good for increasing employment here. Americans need to be the ones writing the rules for international trade, not leaving it up to other countries and risk being left behind in the global economy. Members of Congress can’t just claim to be supportive of free trade at home—we must support it here in Washington with our votes.”
Today’s vote follows last week’s three votes in the House related to trade. Although fast track passed by a vote of 219-211 last week, it could not advance because it was part of a package sent by the Senate that didn’t pass overall. Congressman Simpson voted in support of all four trade measures. The TPA bill that passed the House today will now move to the Senate for further consideration.Read More
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson today protected Idaho priorities in the House Interior and Environment Appropriations bill for FY16. The bill, which sets out the budget for the Department of the Interior, the Forest Service, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), was marked up by the full House Appropriations Committee. Simpson, who sits on the subcommittee, defended a number of important provisions in the bill that protect western interests, including language preventing the EPA’s recently-finalized rule expanding federal jurisdiction over the Clean Water Act.
During the markup, Simpson successfully fought off an amendment intended to strike this language, claiming that the only certainty that the EPA has provided with its new rule is the certainty that all water will eventually be subject to Clean Water Act regulation.
“There is no way that you cannot eventually take this rule to say that it doesn’t impact groundwater, because groundwater is connected to other waters,” Simpson said during the markup. “The EPA has gone way overboard beyond what Congress ever intended with the Clean Water Act.”
Simpson also defeated an amendment to strike three sections of the bill addressing the Endangered Species Act. The bill included a provision similar to Simpson’s 2011 language that reinstated the Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to remove wolves from the endangered species list that applies to gray wolves in Wyoming and the Great Lakes. Wolf populations in both areas have vastly exceeded recovery goals.
“When the Endangered Species Act was originally passed, it was broadly supported,” said Simpson. “But today it isn’t doing what it was intended to do. Instead, interest groups are using the ESA to control land and water by suing federal agencies over each and every decision they make. The ESA hasn’t been reauthorized for over 25 years, and Congress needs to update this law.”
The bill included a number of important Idaho priorities, including full funding for Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT). The bill also fully funds wild land fire accounts at the 10-year average, providing $3.6 billion for both Forest Service and DOI fire-fighting accounts, a $52 million increase over FY15, and a $75 million increase for hazardous fuels management.
The bill passed the full committee and now awaits consideration on the floor of the House of Representatives.Read More
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson applauded passage of H.R. 2685, the FY16 Defense Appropriations bill, which funds the Department of Defense and fulfills the constitutional responsibility of Congress to provide for the common defense.
Crucially, the bill provides funding for the A-10 Thunderbolt II, which is based at the headquarters for the Idaho National Guard at Gowen Field in Boise, and is essential to the mission there. In FY15, the Cromnibus denied the administration’s request to retire any A-10 close-air support aircraft.
“I am very pleased this bill shows support for the A-10 and recognizes the unique and valuable contributions the aircraft provides to our armed forces,” said Simpson. “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. 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.”
Congressman Simpson has been working with Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter to preserve, extend and expand the mission of the Idaho National Guard. H.R. 2685 also prohibits the transfer of AH-64 Apache helicopters from the Army National Guard to active Army in FY16.
The bill also provides for a 2.3% pay raise for over 1.3 million active-duty troops and nearly 820,000 Guard, and reserve troops.
H.R. 2685 passed the House with a bipartisan vote of 278-149.Read More
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson supported final passage of the Fiscal Year 2016 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill, which passed the House 216 -210 late last night. The bill includes Simpson’s language increasing truck weights on Idaho Interstate Highways to 129,000 pounds.
The increase, above the current allowance of 105,500 pounds, puts Idaho in line with neighboring states and with Idaho’s state highway system, which already allows 129,000 pound trucks. “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.
The language comes after completion of a comprehensive ten year pilot study in Idaho which found the weight increase would have no significant impact on roadway safety, nor would it impact the structural soundness of Idaho’s bridges or pavement.
“Last night was a big step forward for Idaho business and agriculture,” said Simpson. “This bill has long been sought by the Governor, the Idaho State Legislature, the Idaho Transportation Department, and business and agriculture throughout Idaho because it will remove the competitive disadvantage Idaho businesses face and generate significant economic activity.”
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, which are often more narrow, with less lanes and more curves and hills than the Interstate.
“This bill puts heavy trucks where they belong, on the Interstate,” added Simpson. “For centuries, our transportation system has been the backbone of our economy, and it is today. Our ability to move goods and people safely and efficiently across the country has made our economy the greatest in world history. But today that system is aging, reaching the end of its life in many cases or being stretched beyond what was originally intended. We need to implement common sense reforms to extend our system’s life by making it work even better. This language does that.”
The Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill will now need to be conferenced with a Senate version of the same bill before it can be signed into law by the President.Read More
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Michael (Mike) K. Simpson is serving his eighth term in the House of Representatives for Idaho’s Second Congressional District.
Mike serves on the House Appropriations Committee. He is the Chairman for the Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development. He also serves on the Interior and Environment Subcommittee and the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Subcommittee. These committees have jurisdiction over funding for a number of programs critical to Idaho, including the Department of Energy, the Department of the Interior, the Forest Service, our National Parks, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Smithsonian Institute.
Simpson is one of the House’s leading advocates for a new energy policy and a renewed commitment to research and development of improved nuclear energy technologies. Mike has also gained national attention for his bill to split the massive, overburdened 9th Circuit Court of Appeals as well as his bill, the Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act which addresses the concerns of economic growth and stability for rural Idaho and resolves long time wilderness debate over the Boulder-White Clouds.
His political career began in 1980, when he was elected to the Blackfoot City Council. In 1984, he was elected to the Idaho Legislature where he served until 1998, the last six years serving as Speaker. Simpson was born in Burley, Idaho and raised in Blackfoot. He graduated from Utah State University and earned his DMD from Washington University School of Dental Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri. After graduation, he joined his father and uncle at the Simpson Family Dental Practice in Blackfoot.
Mike is an avid golfer and enjoys painting. He has been married to his wife Kathy for over 40 years and they live in Idaho Falls.
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Simpson’s Boulder White Clouds Bill Surges Ahead http://t.co/HBlVhzRbea
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Happy 240th birthday to the @USArmy. Thank you to all those who served and are currently serving in the U.S. Army.