Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson supported passage of the fiscal year 2018 House Interior and Environment Appropriations bill, which contains many important provisions to Idaho. Congressman Simpson has continually advocated for essential funding for Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) and wildfire suppression and prevention, which are included in this year’s bill.
“The Interior Appropriations bill is arguably the most important piece of legislation for the western United States,” said Congressman Simpson. “I am pleased this bill addresses the federal government’s responsibility to public lands counties by funding PILT. This is how many counties pay for essential services such as roads and schools. Until we find a much needed long term solution to PILT, I will continue to ensure these payments are fully funded and arrive on time.”
The Interior bill also includes a number of priorities championed by Simpson that benefit Idaho, including:
“Whether it is authorizing the EPA to roll back disastrous rules from the former Administration or adequately funding programs to combat wildfires, this bill addresses issues that impacts Idahoans on a daily basis. I look forward to advancing the bill on the House floor.”
The legislation was adopted by the committee last night by a vote of 30-21.Read More
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson praised passage of H.R. 2810, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2018. This bill fulfills the constitutional responsibility of Congress to provide for the common defense by funding the Department of Defense, and authorizes many important programs that support our military, including a pay increase and benefits to military members and their families.
“I am thrilled to see this bill provide our service members with the necessary tools and support they need to keep up safe at home and abroad,” said Simpson. “With ever-changing threats, we must ensure that our military can protect us from those that wish to do us harm.”
The NDAA contained many important priorities for Idaho including an amendment offered by Congressman Simpson that streamlines the conveyance of an unused Air Force-owned rail spur near the Mountain Home Air Force Base (AFB) to the City of Mountain Home. This amendment was developed in consensus with the City of Mountain Home and the Air Force. The city will leverage this rail for economic development to attract businesses to the city and lead to job growth for its residents and for military dependents. Without legislative action, this project could have been delayed years and held up important economic development.
“I am very pleased that my amendment was adopted, and I am excited to see the rail conveyance create economic opportunities in the region,” said Simpson. “There is great potential for this conveyance to strengthen and diversify the economy for both Mountain Home and the State of Idaho. I am also pleased that this conveyance provides a great partnering opportunity for the city of Mountain Home and Mountain Home Air Force Base. It’s a win-win for the city and the base.”
The railway is critical to attracting business to the city’s planned industrial park. Each new business attracted by the immediate proximity of rail transport will create jobs from diverse fields and levels.
The bill also includes a provision preventing the retirement of the A-10 Thunderbolt II, and authorizes funding for the aircraft to continue its operation. An A-10 squadron currently operates at Gowen Field in Boise.
“I am pleased to back the A-10 which ensures that our service members will have the necessary tools they need in close air combat support,” said Simpson. “While there will be a time when the aircraft will need to be replaced, we have to ensure that an appropriate replacement can be identified before that happens.”
The bill also authorizes funding for new trainee barracks for the Idaho Army National Guard, a high priority for the Army to improve Guard readiness.
This bill provides for a 2.4% pay raise for over 1.3 million active-duty and 820,000 Guard and Reserve troops.
H.R. 2810 passed the House by a bipartisan vote of 344-81.
· INL’s Safeguards and Security Program is funded at $133 million – an increase of $3.7 million over fiscal year 2017.
· The Nuclear Energy Enabling Technologies program is funded at $126.7 million – an increase of $11.6 million above fiscal year 2017.
· 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 same as last year.
· The Reactor Concepts Research, Development, and Demonstration account is funded at $219.3 million – an increase of $87.3 million above last year. Within the overall $219 million level for this account, $30 million is allocated to fuel qualification for the High Temperature Gas Reactor, and $60 million is for a solicitation to support technical, first-of-its-kind engineering and design and regulatory development of next generation light water and non-light water reactor technologies, including small modular reactors.
· Within the Fuel Cycle Research and Development program, the Advanced Fuels program is funded at $71 million; and Used Nuclear Fuel Disposition research and development is funded at $45 million.
· Within the Office of Naval Reactors, the bill includes $82.5 million for the operation of the Advanced Test Reactor.
· Within the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, the bill includes $9 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 $382 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 will allow the significant cleanup activities currently underway to continue. The bill also includes an additional $4 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 $37.6 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.
“From water projects across the nation to critical energy research and national security, the Energy and Water bill has a wide reach,” Chairman Simpson said. “This bill prioritizes fulfilling our national security needs and maintaining critical investments to advance our economy within tight budget caps,” said Subcommittee Chairman Mike Simpson. “It strikes a responsible balance between the modernization and safety of our nuclear weapons, advancing our national infrastructure, and strategic investments in basic science and energy R&D.”
The House Appropriations Committee also passed the fiscal year 2018 Agriculture Appropriations bill. The legislation includes important priorities to Idaho such as vital research and support for farmers and ranchers. Similar to previous years, Congressman Simpson authored language in the Agriculture Appropriations bill that blocks the President’s proposed closure of the U.S. Sheep Experimental Station in Dubois, Idaho.
“I am pleased that the House Appropriations Committee is sending a clear message that recognizes the station’s valuable work,” said Congressman Simpson. “While I was disappointed that USDA proposed to close the facility, this creates an important opportunity towards ensuring that stakeholders and ARS come together to work on a viable, long-term future for the sheep station.”
Also included in the Agriculture Appropriations bill are other important Idaho priorities such as potato and wheat research funding, support for pest eradication programs, and language directing the FDA to develop a standard identity for dairy based on existing standards which is similar to Congressman Simpson’s bipartisan DAIRY Pride Act.
The two bills are expected to be considered on the floor of the House of Representatives in the coming weeks.
Idaho Congressman Simpson praised the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Army Corps of Engineers proposed rule to repeal the “waters of the United States” (WOTUS) definition that was submitted by the previous Administration. Today’s proposed rule withdraws WOTUS and allows for a rewrite of the definition, which will provide regulatory certainty for farmers, ranchers, local municipalities, and others who have voiced concerns with WOTUS.
“I applaud the Administration for taking this important step to provide Idahoans with regulatory relief,” said Simpson. “The WOTUS rule from the previous Administration blatantly overreached into our lives in the West, which is why I fought this massive expansion of federal jurisdiction since day one. I am pleased this Administration recognizes the WOTUS rule is unworkable and way beyond the scope of the federal government.”
The controversial rule would have expanded the definition of “waters of the United States” and as a result, federal regulation and permitting under the Clean Water Act. The rule, as written, could apply to virtually all water, including ground water. States currently regulate non-navigable water.
Congressman Simpson has been a leader on this issue, currently chairing the appropriations subcommittee overseeing the budget for the US Army Corps of Engineers and is a member of 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. In fact, Congressman Simpson today released his Energy and Water Appropriations legislation, which includes language authorizing the Administrator of the EPA and the Corps to withdraw the WOTUS rule.
“With the introduction of my Energy and Water bill today - alongside the proposed withdrawal of the rule itself – two branches of government are sending a clear message to the American people that the federal government must defer to the authority of States to regulate state waters.”
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson and Oregon Congressman Kurt Schrader today reintroduced the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act (WDFA), legislation which would fix the current budgeting process for wildfires.
In recent years, Congress has budgeted for wildfire suppression by appropriating money according to the average cost for wildfires over the past ten years, known as the “ten-year average.” When costs exceed an agency’s fire budget, that agency is forced to borrow from non-fire accounts to pay for fire suppression. This practice is known as “fire-borrowing.” Robbing these accounts means that the Forest Service and other land management agencies have fewer resources available for forest management activities like hazardous fuels reduction that would prevent catastrophic fires. As a result, fires get worse and wildfire suppression costs end up devouring the agency’s budget.
“I have seen the cost of wildfires in Idaho and the impacts it has on our forests when funds that are planned for forest management are used to fight wildfires,” said Simpson. “When more than fifty percent of an agency’s budget is unpredictable, you are creating a recipe for the unsustainable fire-borrowing we see today that devastates our forests and costs taxpayers. I am pleased to reintroduce the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act with Congressman Schrader again this Congress. It is time to acknowledge that catastrophic wildfires should be funded like natural disasters so we can ensure that land managers have the resources they need to properly manage our forests.”
“Simply put, the current system is broken,” said Schrader. “Because we do no project management to help protect our forests, we end up paying much more to fight costly carbon producing wildfires that again devastate our ability to do the critical forest management on our public lands in the first place. These fires should be treated the same as any other natural disaster. Budgeting to address the mismanagement of our forests would free up financial resources. Our bill will work to fix this root problem by reducing fuel loads, improving forest health, save taxpayers money, and provide jobs in our struggling rural communities.”
Fire borrowing was intended to be an extraordinary measure to help in bad wildfire years. However, this practice has become the norm and not the exception, which has caused wildfire costs to increase. According to the Forest Service, wildfire costs were 56% of their total budget in 2016. In 1995, the Forest Service spent only 16% of their total budget fighting wildfires. By 2025, that number could increase to nearly 70% if nothing is done to fix the budgeting process.
The Wildfire Disaster Funding Act would end fire borrowing by treating wildfires like other natural disasters when wildfire suppression costs are exhausted. Most importantly, the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act would protect land management programs by protecting the budget from the increasing ten-year average. Wildfire suppression would still be funded through the normal budgeting and appropriations process, but when the Forest Service exceeds its annual wildfire suppression budget, the agency would be able to fund wildfire fighting costs like other natural disasters. This allows the Forest Service and other land management agencies to maintain resources in the prevention accounts they are intended for, ultimately preventing catastrophic wildfires from growing in size and cost.
The Wildfire Disaster Funding Act was also introduced in the 113th and 114th Congress. The legislation received 150 bipartisan cosponsors and the support of more than 300 organizations. Original cosponsors for the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act of 2017 include Representatives Mark Amodei, Suzanne Bonamici, Ken Calvert, Jim Costa, Peter DeFazio, Marcy Kaptur, Derek Kilmer, Raul Labrador, Betty McCollum, Cathy McMorris-Rodgers, Dan Newhouse, Jared Polis, Kysrten Sinema, Steve Stivers, Scott Tipton, and Greg Walden.
On Thursday, Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson discussed important Idaho issues with Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell during a hearing held by the House Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee. The topics ranged from ongoing litigation that prevents the Forest Service from managing public lands, to treating wildfire funding like other natural disasters.
“How do you maintain the public’s right to have a say in how their public lands are managed and get on with managing instead of spending all the resources we use in lawsuits?” said Simpson. “We have created situations where you can get sued at multiple steps in the process and it is just unmanageable.”
Congressman Simpson has long expressed concerns with frivolous litigation and recently introduced bipartisan legislation to reverse a court ruling that risks 80 vegetative management projects and hundreds of millions of board feet according to the Forest Service. Secretary Perdue echoed his concerns about the court decision known as Cottonwood.
Simpson also raised the issue of ending the disastrous practice of fire borrowing and treating wildfires like other natural disasters.
“Fire borrowing has gotten out of hand,” said Simpson. “When 53 percent of your budget is going to fight wildfires that means there is no money left for anything else… We have appropriated money for (trail maintenance), but guess what? It has gone to fight wildfires...We need your help (Secretary Perdue) to make leadership understand the importance of this issue.”
Congressman Simpson has long championed the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act, which would fix the way wildfires are currently budgeted for by treating catastrophic wildfires like other natural disasters. The legislation received 150 cosponsors last Congress.
To view Congressman Simpson raising these important issues, visit the following link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_E37zD8GwY&feature=youtu.be
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson released the following statement addressing the Administration’s FY18 Budget.
“Now that Congress has received the Administration’s FY18 budget, my colleagues and I will give serious thought and discussion to the proposals that the President has put forward. I look forward to carefully reviewing the President’s request in the coming weeks so that Congress can get to work on funding bills for fiscal year 2018, which begins in just a few short months. Although we are starting the process later than normal this year, our subcommittee will do what it does every year; scrutinize the request and hold hearings with administration officials to inform our line-by-line funding decisions. This is the responsibility entrusted to the Congress by the Constitution, and we take that obligation very seriously.
“The Administration deserves credit for taking our nation’s fiscal crisis seriously, but I hope that in the coming years we can begin the conversation on addressing the real drivers of our debt, which remain untouched by the yearly appropriations process. Mandatory programs remain on autopilot and continue to grow, dwarfing all other government programs in terms of spending. That is why I will continue to advocate for “going big” with a package of spending cuts paired with tax and entitlement reform, as it is the only way we will truly put our country back on solid fiscal footing.”
On Friday, President Trump signed the Fiscal Year 2017 Consolidated Appropriations Act into law which includes Congressman Simpson's agreement on the Gateway West Transmission Line.
“I applaud President Trump for signing the fiscal year 2017 appropriations legislation into law,” said Congressman Simpson. “This bill contains many important provisions for Idaho including an agreement that allows the Gateway West Transmission line to pursue an Idaho-based solution while enhancing the Birds of Prey conservation area. This is a win-win for Idahoans.”
“We are delighted this provision was signed into law,” stated Danielle Murray, Senior Director of Programs for the National Conservation Lands. “This law expands protections for the unique raptor and eagle habitat in southern Idaho, while also allowing for the development of much needed energy infrastructure.”
“I'm grateful to Congressman Simpson, our delegation and key stakeholders for helping advance a critical economic development priority for Idaho,” Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter said. “The Gateway West transmission line has been held up by federal bureaucracy for far too long, so I'm pleased to see legislation on this important infrastructure project finally moving forward.”
The Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area Boundary Modification Act allows the transmission line to be routed using the preferred alternative of the Bureau of Land Management’s Resource Advisory Council (RAC) and is supported by the State of Idaho and Idaho Power. The agreement also includes land in the NCA being removed from NCA status and managed as BLM multiple use land. In exchange, the Birds of Prey NCA will receive enhanced mitigation and conservation measures and an additional 4,800 acres will be added to the NCA.
The Morley Nelson Snake River Birds of Prey National Conservation Area Boundary Modification Act was cosponsored by Congressman Raul Labrador and received support from Senator Jim Risch and Senator Mike Crapo. The legislation is also supported by conservation groups and the State of Idaho.
On Thursday, Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson supported the American Health Care Act which passed the House of Representatives by 217-213. The legislation is a repeal and replacement plan for Obamacare.
“I voted against the passage of Obamacare and I have voted to repeal it over 60 times,” said Simpson. “Many members promised the American public that they would repeal and replace Obamacare and this vote is the first step to fulfilling that promise. I believe in keeping my promises.”
Specifically, H.R. 1628 begins the process of replacing Obamacare with provisions that lower premiums and provide more choices for health coverage. The Congressional Budget Office found that premiums will be 10% lower under this legislation. One such mechanism to do this is to provide over $130 billion to Patient and State Stability Funds to lower costs and stabilize insurance markets, including a dedicated fund for states to expand services for mental health, addiction treatment, and further support for patients with pre-existing conditions. The bill also eliminates the most burdensome Obamacare mandates such as the individual mandate, the employer mandate, and numerous tax increases that have driven up health care costs.
“The Affordable Care Act is unsustainable given its current trajectory. The thought of a total collapse in the health care market is simply too dangerous to ignore given the stakes. The question today was to stick with Obamacare or to start the process of fixing our broken health care system. The American Health Care Act is the only opportunity we have to start that replacement process. It is not perfect given the limited scope of reconciliation rules, but to fix health care we need to start somewhere.”
The legislation includes an amendment to provide additional support for people with pre-existing conditions. Importantly, states may not – under any circumstance - ever obtain a waiver for pre-existing condition protection, prohibition on gender discrimination, guaranteed issue and renewability, or for the right of dependents to stay on a family plan up to the age 26.
In March, the House also passed two health care reform bills that will lower costs through increased competition. The Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act is a policy change that Congressman Simpson has long cosponsored and supported. The legislation would level the playing field by removing the McCarran-Ferguson Act’s federal antitrust exemption for health insurance businesses. Congressman Simpson voted in favor of the Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act which passed by a large bipartisan vote of 416-7.
The Small Business Health Fairness Act would allow small businesses to join together to offer coverage through association health plans thus providing another option for purchasing health insurance and creating competition. The legislation also passed the House with bipartisan support of 236-175.
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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The U.S. Small Business Administration will be in Boise tomorrow hosting a free regulatory reform discussion with s… https://t.co/v7RyNN3Vuh
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The FY18 Energy and Water Appropriations bill has been approved by the Subcommittee on a voice vote.
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