Washington, D.C. - Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson joined a bipartisan coalition of members of Congress to introduce the Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act. The bill would create a dedicated fund to address the $12 billion maintenance backlog in the National Parks (NPS) and multibillion-dollar backlog that exists at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), and the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE). The proposal is consensus legislation that combines Congressman Simpson’s National Park Restoration Act and LAND ACT, and Congressman Will Hurd’s National Park Service Legacy Act.
“This is an exciting day for public lands and national park advocates,” said Simpson. “Growing up in Yellowstone’s backyard, I was afforded the opportunity to enjoy our nation’s first national park. That is why I feel it is important to pay it forward to future visitors that deserve the same quality experience as past generations. I look forward to working with all the stakeholders to advance legislation that will help restore our parks and public lands.”
Specifically, the Restore Our Parks and Public Lands Act would create a dedicated fund of money to fix the backlog maintenance at the NPS, USFWS, BLM, and BIE. The money would come from onshore and offshore energy revenues that are currently not obligated to other purposes. The bill is estimated to raise roughly $6.5 billion over the course of five years.
The legislation was introduced with over 50 bipartisan cosponsors and has bicameral support with a Senate version that was introduced in June. The legislation also has the support of President Trump and Interior Secretary Zinke, the National Parks Conservation Association, the Pew Charitable Trusts’ restore America’s parks campaign, and the Outdoor Industry Association.
Washington, D.C. - The House of Representatives passed the fiscal year 2019 Interior and Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations bill by a vote of 217-199. Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson authored several of the provisions in the bill that directly benefit Idaho. This legislation also continues many important provisions from the 2018 Omnibus, such as rolling back onerous rules and regulations, providing funding for the Payment in Lieu of Taxes Program (PILT), and fully funding wildfire suppression to ensure western states have the resources to battle catastrophic wildfires.
“Land managers have a duty to be good neighbors to Idahoans,” said Simpson. “That is why Congress needs to adequately fund these agencies to ensure that they have the resources to carry out their missions. The legislation passed by the House does that by funding PILT, wildfire prevention and suppression programs, and providing a check on the executive branch from past rules and regulations that have been a burden to communities across Idaho.”
The bill will now move to the Senate for further consideration. To read about more Idaho provisions in the bill visit: https://simpson.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=398651
Washington D.C.- I have always believed that America first does not mean America alone. We are at our strongest when we work together with our allies to counter international aggression inconsistent with our values. In response to Russian actions that run counter to our principles, Congress has spoken clearly by providing the Administration tools to hold the Kremlin accountable, tools that I hope will be utilized to their fullest extent.Read More
“It was a pleasure to meet Bailey and her family and I’m proud that her art is now on display in the U.S. Capitol,” said Simpson. “She is a fantastic artist, a great student, and Idaho is lucky to have her represent our state.”
The Congressional Art Competition began in 1982 and more than 650,000 high school students have participated. Southwest Airline donated airline tickets for Bailey to attend the Congressional Art Reception in Washington D.C. that was held this week.
“We were thrilled at this year’s participation,” said Simpson. “This is the largest participation we have seen in years. There were nine high schools represented in this year’s competition, spanning from Skyline to Timberline and North Fremont to Snake River.”
The Art Museum of Eastern Idaho commissioned a panel to jury all submissions and then all entries were on exhibit in March, where over 1,200 people viewed the artwork from Idaho high school students. The winning piece from Bailey Annis is now on display with the winners of every other congressional district in the country for thousands to see in the U.S. Capitol.
On Wednesday, the Department of the Interior announced fiscal year 2018 Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) payments, which compensate local governments for the inability to collect property taxes on federal land. Idaho is slated to receive $36.1 million in fiscal year 2018, along with the $26 million from Secure Rural Schools Payments (SRS) the Forest Service announced in May. PILT funding was made possible by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018 which contained $530 million for the program.
“In Idaho, PILT is perhaps the most critical source of funding for counties with high percentages of federal land,” said Simpson. “I am pleased the federal government is meeting its obligations to states and localities and I look forward to continuing to ensure full funding for fiscal year 2019. It is my hope that we can pass appropriations bills on time this year to give Idaho counties certainty with their PILT payments.”
Congressman Simpson’s vote for the Omnibus also included reauthorization of SRS and many other important provisions that impact Idaho.
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson today supported H.R. 2, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act (the “Farm Bill”). The Farm Bill reauthorizes many important farm and nutrition programs for five years. H.R. 2 passed by a vote of 213-211.
“We need to show rural America we have their back, and the Farm Bill is the perfect vehicle to demonstrate our support,” said Simpson. “In Idaho, this bill will provide certainty for our ranchers and farmers and signature commodities like potatoes, dairy, grain, and sugar beets. I am pleased we moved one step closer today towards providing stability to our nation’s farmers.”
During the initial floor consideration of H.R. 2, Congressman Simpson fought for many important Idaho priorities such as the U.S. sugar program which operates at no cost to the taxpayer and is critical to Idaho sugar beet farmers. Other important programs include research for specialty crops such as potatoes, risk management tools for dairy and grain producers, and trade promotion programs for all agriculture.
The legislation will now await a formal conference to work out differences with the Senate legislation which is expected to be considered next week.Read More
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson released the following statement after U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of the Army announced they will be sending a proposed ‘Step 2” rule that would define ‘waters of the United States (WOTUS) to the Office of Management and Budget for interagency review.
“I applaud this Administration for permanently rescinding the hastily developed Obama Administration rule on ‘waters of the United States’,” said Simpson. “I look forward to working with the Administration on the new rule which will give certainty to Idaho’s farmers and ranchers, respect the jurisdiction of state waters, and ultimately achieve the intent of the law through supporting local communities to provide clean water.”
The Truth about the Omnibus
By Congressman Mike Simpson
Washington, D.C. – “You may have seen an article authored by a DC lobbyist recently that criticized my vote on the FY18 Omnibus bill. I’d like to respond to Mr. Riggs’ claims.
“First, the FY18 Omnibus bill was good for Idaho. It will directly benefit Idahoans through reauthorization of Secure Rural Schools, full funding for PILT, reining in the EPA, and funding for the A-10 Thunderbolt II based at Gowen Field. It included my fix to fire funding, which will allow us to decrease the cost and severity of future wildfires. Strong support for the INL to sustain its world-class research and development, including their work on cybersecurity grid protection will help keep Americans safe.
“Most critically, the omnibus starts rebuilding America’s Armed Forces by making the largest investment in our defense in 15 years. I was shocked to learn recently that we currently have the smallest Army since before World War II, the smallest Navy since before World War I, and the smallest and oldest Air Force that we have ever had. Our Army has only 5 of 58 Brigade Combat Teams that are “Ready to Fight Tonight.” Less than half of the Navy’s aircraft can fly due to maintenance and spare parts issues. Only 50% of the Air Force’s combat forces are sufficiently ready for a fight against a peer adversary. The FY18 Omnibus bill gives warfighters the resources they need to fight, win, and return home safety. I am proud of my vote for this legislation.
“It’s ironic that Mr. Riggs lamented the lack of progress on mandatory entitlement reform, because on that point we completely agree. My constituents know well that I have advocated a “go big” approach to deficit reduction that would find at least $4 trillion in savings with a package of cuts to discretionary spending, tax reform, and most importantly, an overhaul of mandatory spending programs.
“Mr. Riggs admitted that Congress successfully tackled reforming our tax code. On discretionary spending, he failed to acknowledge that Congress has cut more than a trillion dollars in the last several years, and that despite the increase to rebuild our military, discretionary spending in FY18 was LOWER than it was in FY10. Last week, the House voted to cut another $15 billion from discretionary funding that was expired or unnecessary.
“The growth of mandatory programs is the main driver of our debt. It’s the final challenge that Congress will need to tackle to address our fiscal health. Cutting discretionary spending only has a small impact on the growth of government, since mandatory programs make up 2/3 of the federal budget. In FY16, mandatory spending was 69% of our total budget while all other spending that Congress controls (the Departments of Defense, Agriculture, Justice, Energy, Interior, Transportation, State, and others) totaled 31%. Left unchecked, by 2040, those numbers will grow to 81% mandatory and 19% discretionary. In 1965, those numbers were 34% mandatory and 66% discretionary.
“Americans have spent their working lifetimes paying into these programs, and this growth is unsustainable. The fundamentals are simply not working anymore, as only 2.9 workers pay into Social Security for every one beneficiary (versus 159 workers per beneficiary in 1940), meaning the trust fund will be insolvent by 2034. Every proposal that I have ever supported to reform these programs would preserve benefits for current beneficiaries and save it for future generations.
“Mr. Riggs’ column highlights a fundamental issue with our country. If we engage in thoughtful conversation, we usually find there is a lot more we agree on than not. Let’s develop and pursue actual solutions to the most serious challenge our nation faces. Americans deserve it.”
Simpson’s Energy and Water Legislation Passes the House
House approves legislation including Energy and Water, Military Construction-Veterans Affairs, and Legislative Branch Appropriations bill
Washington, D.C. – Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson praised the passage of H.R. 5895, which included the Fiscal Year 2019 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill. The U.S. House of Representatives approved the legislation with a final vote count of 235-179. H.R. 5895 provides funding for the 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 FY19 Energy and Water bill recognizes the leading national role that the Idaho National Laboratory plays in enhancing our national security and increasing American competitiveness,” said Chairman Simpson. “I’m proud to support their groundbreaking research in advanced reactor and fuel development, battery and bioenergy programs, and protecting the electric grid from cyber-attacks, and I am pleased this bill fulfills their needs to continue this critical work.”
The FY 2019 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill sets funding for the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy at $1.2 billion. Nuclear energy research and development programs that receive funding within the overall $1.2 billion allocation include:
· The Idaho Facilities Management account, which covers infrastructure maintenance and improvement at INL, is funded at $322 million – a $28 million increase over last year.
· INL’s Safeguards and Security Program is funded at $146 million – an increase of $13 million over fiscal year 2018.
· The Nuclear Energy Enabling Technologies program is funded at $164.3 million – an increase of $5.3 million above fiscal year 2018.
· 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 $50 million, the same as last year.
· The Reactor Concepts Research, Development, and Demonstration account is funded at $370 million – an increase of $133 million above last year. Within the overall level for this account, $34 million is allocated to fuel qualification for the High Temperature Gas Reactor, and $100 million is for Advanced Small Modular Reactor Research and Development to support technical, first-of-its-kind engineering and design and regulatory development of next generation light water and non-light water reactor technologies.
· Within the Fuel Cycle Research and Development program, the Advanced Fuels program is funded at $128.5 million; and Used Nuclear Fuel Disposition research and development is funded at $62.5 million.
Other vital priorities funded within the Energy and Water division include:
· Within the Office of Naval Reactors, the bill includes $85.5 million for the operation of the Advanced Test Reactor.
· Within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, $25 million is included for energy efficient mobility systems and over $27 million for the Lab’s bioenergy program, and $9 million for the integrated energy systems.
· Provides significant investment in cyber security grid protection work that the Idaho National Laboratory leads.
· A provision to allow recharge of the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer during flood releases and high flow events at the Palisades Reservoir.
The bill also provides $420 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 $5 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.
The bill also 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 $44.7 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 well-balanced bill that places emphasis where it is needed most: meeting critical national security needs and investing in our nation's infrastructure," Chairman Simpson said. "It prioritizes the maintenance and security of our nuclear weapons stockpile, while also supporting infrastructure projects and strategic research and development that will increase U.S. economic growth and competitiveness.”
Simpson also praised the passage of the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Bill for Fiscal Year 2019, which was included in H.R. 5895. “This FY19 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs bill is landmark legislation- besides rebuilding our military infrastructure, the bill provides the largest dollar increase in history for the Department of Veterans Affairs. The bill funds healthcare for our veterans, modernizes the VA records system, continues to rebuild military infrastructure, and addresses the veterans compensation claims backlog. I am extremely proud to support this legislation which upholds our responsibility to veterans and military families.”
The FY19 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Bill also includes:
· $8.6 billion for mental health care services
· $7.4 billion for homeless veterans services
· $270 million for rural veterans’ health initiatives
· $1.6 billion for housing for military families
H.R. 5895 will now be conferenced with the Senate version of these pieces of legislation.
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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