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
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson today issued the following statement following the EPA’s announcement finalizing the Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule.
“I find it extremely disappointing, though not surprising, that the EPA has moved forward on this controversial rule in spite of widespread opposition from Members of Congress, the states, and the American public,” said Simpson. “In Idaho, water is life, and I don’t intend to sit back and watch the EPA take control of state waters, leaving Idaho farmers, ranchers, and landowners at the mercy of federal regulations.”
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. He has also cosponsored a number of legislative provisions addressing this issue.Read More
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson today supported passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY16, which includes a provision delaying the listing of the greater sage-grouse as an endangered species. Simpson supported language included in NDAA that would prevent the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from listing the bird for ten years, giving adequate time for effective state management plans to be developed and put into effect. The bill passed 269-151.
“Given the impact that a decision to list sage-grouse would have on Idaho, it is imperative that we get it right. That means working closely with state and local officials to develop management plans based on sound science,” Simpson said. “Unfortunately, there is growing concern that the BLM and Fish and Wildlife Service are ignoring state input and moving forward with new management plans that are based on a fear of being sued. At the beginning of this process, the states were invited to partner with the federal government. But today, with just weeks left before the new management plans are to be revealed, they feel they’ve been locked out of the process. This language makes sure that state voices are heard in sage-grouse management and conservation efforts.”
The language in the NDAA bill would prevent the sage-grouse from being listed for ten years and put state-approved management plans into place for at least five years. Simpson has cosponsored similar legislation to ensure that states have an integral role in sage-grouse management. He authored language to delay the listing decision for one year that was included in the Omnibus Appropriations Act for FY15.
“It is worth noting that the deadline for a sage-grouse listing decision was imposed by the courts, not based on science,” said Simpson. “It is far better to take enough time to make a sound scientific decision rooted in collaboration than to make a rushed decision based on an arbitrary deadline.”
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson supported passage of legislation to rein in the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) attempts to take control of state waters last night. H.R. 1732, the Regulatory Integrity Protection Act of 2015, would require the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to withdraw the controversial proposed rule expanding the definition of “waters of the United States” and develop a new rule after consultation with state and local governments and interested parties. Simpson is a cosponsor of the bill, which passed the House by an overwhelming majority of 261-155.
“The EPA has received a record number of comments on this proposed rule, and during the 113th Congress over half of the members of House of Representatives registered their opposition to it. This doesn’t surprise me one bit,” said Simpson. “I have long known that expanding the reach of EPA regulations to ground water, farm ponds, and ditches would devastate rural Idaho, and I have been fighting against the EPA’s growing regulatory appetite for years. Passage of this bill is an important step in the right direction.”
The controversial proposed 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.
Simpson chairs the House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee and sits on the House Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, which oversee the budgets of the Army Corps and the EPA, respectively. He has authored numerous provisions to stop the flawed rule, including most recently a provision in the House Energy and Water Appropriations Act for FY16 that would prohibit any changes to federal jurisdiction under the Obama Administration’s “Waters of the United States” proposal. H.R. 1732 is now before the U.S. Senate for consideration.Read More
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson praised the House passage of the Fiscal Year 2016 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill, which reverses proposed cuts to Idaho National Laboratory (INL), the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy, and cleanup activities in Idaho. 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. The legislation passed the U.S. House of Representatives today with a final vote of 240-177.
“I am pleased to report that the Energy and Water bill rejects cuts proposed by the Obama Administration to nuclear energy programs and increases funding for many of the vital research efforts at INL,” said Simpson. “The funding increases we have been able to secure will build on our previous work, and continue to make a real impact accelerating nuclear innovation programs and addressing much needed infrastructure enhancements at INL. These investments will make sure nuclear energy remains an important component of our nation's energy mix.”
The FY 2016 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill sets funding for the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy at $936 million, an increase of $102.6 million above fiscal year 2015 and $28.5 million above the President’s request. Nuclear energy research and development programs that receive funding within the overall $936 million allocation include:
The Idaho Facilities Management account, which covers infrastructure maintenance and improvement at INL, is funded at $218.5 million – a $12.5 million increase over last year and $6.7 million above the President’s request.
The Nuclear Energy Enabling Technologies program is funded at $111 million – an increase of $10.6 million above fiscal year 2015 and $25 million above the President’s request.
Small Modular Reactor Licensing Support Programs are funded at $62.5 million. This funding is slated for NuScale Power’s Small Modular Reactor which is proposed for construction in Idaho.
The Light Water Reactor Sustainability program, which is managed by INL and promotes the continued safe operation of America’s existing nuclear reactors, is funded at $40 million.
The Reactor Concepts Research, Development, and Demonstration account is funded at $141 million – an increase of $8.7 million above fiscal year 2015 and $33.5 million above the President’s request. Within the overall $141 million level for this account, $33 million is allocated to fuel qualification for the High Temperature Gas Reactor.
Within the Fuel Cycle Research and Development program, the Advanced Fuels program is funded at $60.1 million, the same as fiscal year 2015; and Used Nuclear Fuel Disposition research and development is funded at $55 million, $16.5 million below fiscal year 2015.
Within the Office of Naval Reactors, the bill includes $71.2 million for the operation of the Advanced Test Reactor.
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 provides $390 million for cleanup activities associated with the Idaho Cleanup Project and the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project co-located on the Idaho desert with INL. The funding level of $390 million is an increase of $10.5 million above fiscal year 2015 and $30 million above the President’s request, which will allow the significant cleanup activities currently underway to continue. There is also 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.
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 contains funding to support the continued adjudication of the Yucca Mountain license application, ensuring the federal government will meet its commitments to Idaho and other states and dispose of used nuclear fuel.
Overall, the Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill provides $35.4 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.
“This is a responsible bill that prioritizes national security needs and improving our nation's infrastructure within tight budget caps,” Simpson said. “As we do every year, we worked hard to incorporate perspectives from all members, and the result is legislation that makes critical investments in 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 will be conferenced with the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations bill later this year. The complete Committee Report can be found at: http://appropriations.house.gov/uploadedfiles/hrpt-114-hr-fy2016-energywater.pdfRead More
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson, House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman, has led a successful effort to defeat an amendment that would have stripped a section of the Energy and Water Appropriations bill prohibiting any changes to federal jurisdiction under the Obama Administration’s “Waters of the United States" proposal.
The proposed rule would expand the reach of the Clean Water Act by replacing the term “navigable waters” with the term “waters of the United States.” Non-navigable waters are currently regulated by the states. Striking this term means that the Act could be broadly interpreted to included everything within a state, including ground water.
Late last night Chairman Simpson fought the amendment on the House floor stating, “Many people believed that if the waters were not regulated under the Clean Water Act, they were unregulated. Not true. They are regulated by the states. And that’s how it should remain. . . While there may be a desire for clarity on federal jurisdiction, providing clarity does not trump the need to stay within the limits of the law. The proposed rule would expand federal jurisdiction far beyond what was ever intended by the Clean Water Act. The provision in the Energy and Water bill does not weaken the Clean Water Act; it stops the Administration from expanding federal jurisdiction. For those reasons I strongly oppose this amendment and encourage my colleagues to vote no.”
The amendment was offered by Representative Don Beyer (D-VA) last night, and failed on a voice vote. Consideration of the House Energy and Water Appropriations bill will continue today, with a vote on final passage expected on Friday, May 1st. To view a video of Chairman Simpson’s speech, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjLy2IR4RKc&feature=youtu.beRead 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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Happy 240th birthday to the @USArmy. Thank you to all those who served and are currently serving in the U.S. Army.
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Simpson’s ID truck weight language advances-Provides common sense reform allowing ID on equal footing w/ neighbors http://t.co/REduyIsLEM