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Simpson Delivers Historic Wins for Idaho – Including Renaming the White Clouds Wilderness after former Governor Cecil Andrus

Bill includes Simpson’s Wildfire Fix, PILT, SRS, Pay Raise for Troops, Aquifer Recharge, Investments in INL

Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson today applauded the House passage of H.R. 1625, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018, which included monumental benefits for Idaho and Western States. 

“This is a comprehensive and responsible package that contains so many important provisions for Idaho and Western States,” said Simpson. “It is the product of this past year’s worth of thoughtful deliberation and line-by-line analysis of every program in the federal budget.  Funding our government through short term Continuing Resolutions is unsustainable, inefficient, and an irresponsible way to govern. Through this agreement, Congress has fulfilled its duty of keeping our government open, and while no one got everything they wanted in the final package, we have paved the way back to regular order in the weeks and months to come.”As Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development and a senior member and former Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and Environment, Simpson 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

“The Energy and Water section of this bill reaffirms our nation’s commitment to nuclear energy and the Idaho National Laboratory,” said Chairman Simpson.  “It makes critical investments in advanced reactor and nuclear fuel R&D programs at the nation’s lead nuclear lab and funds much needed infrastructure improvements that will allow the world class researchers at the lab to continue their ground breaking work. This bill also makes significant investments in nonproliferation and grid security programs, where INL plays a leading role keeping our nation safe.”

The fiscal year (FY) 2018 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill sets funding for the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy at $1.2 billion, an increase of $188 million above fiscal year 2017.  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 $294 million – an increase of $56.3 million above fiscal year 2017 and $90 million above the budget request. 

·         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 $159 million – an increase of $44 million above fiscal year 2017. 

·         The Reactor Concepts Research, Development, and Demonstration account is funded at $237 million – an increase of $105 million above last year. Within the overall $237 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. 

·          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 $47 million – an increase of $7 million over last year.

·         Within the Fuel Cycle Research and Development program, the Advanced Fuels program is funded at $125 million—a $57 million increase from fiscal year 2017; and Used Nuclear Fuel Disposition research and development is funded at $86.4 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 to accelerate planned reliability-related infrastructure upgrades, and $198 million is included for the Spent Fuel Handling Recapitalization Project.·         Within the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, the bill includes $10 million to complete the development of an industry-scale Electric Grid Test Bed program to enhance existing full-scale electric grid testing capabilities like those at Idaho National Laboratory.

·         Within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, $25 million is included for energy efficient mobility systems and over $15 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 $434 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, an increase of $52 million over fiscal year 2017.  The funding level of $434 million will allow the significant cleanup activities currently underway to continue and includes $10 million to demolish excess facilities and infrastructure in order to reduce overall maintenance costs. In addition, the bill includes language in the House mark directing the Department to fully investigate alternatives for new missions at the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project.  Finally, the bill 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. 

Interior and Environment

“The Interior portion of the Omnibus contains provisions that are critical to Idaho,” said Simpson. “I am thrilled to see a fix to fire borrowing included. I have been working on this issue since 2013 and it is long past due that fires are treated like other natural disasters. I am also pleased to see vital funding for PILT and SRS which our rural counties need. Notably, this bill recognizes the late Governor Andrus by naming the White Clouds Wilderness after him. A well-deserved honor for a man who dedicate his life to public service.”

·         Includes a fix to fire borrowing which Congressman Simpson has championed since 2013. It also includes forest management reforms that are also critical to preventing catastrophic wildfires.
·         Includes Congressman Simpson’s bill to rename the White Clouds Wilderness after former Idaho Governor Cecil D. Andrus.
·         Provides $3.8 billion in wildfire fighting and prevention programs which fully funds the 10 year average for wildfire suppression costs at the Forest Service and Department of the Interior. There is also an additional $500 million for the Forest Service suppression operations.
·         Includes 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 $30,054,704 in PILT funding for FY17.
·         Reauthorizes Secure Rural Schools (SRS) which, similar to PILT, provides an alternative source of education funding for counties with a high percentage of national forests.  This program also fulfills the federal government’s responsibility to counties with tax-exempt federal lands.
·         Provides $614 million for hazardous fuels reduction activities—a $50 million increase over FY17.

·         Retains cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and specifically reduces the regulatory programs by over $20 million and prioritizes funding for the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Loan fund, which states and local governments use for water infrastructure projects.

·         Relieves livestock operations of EPA permitting requirements similar to bipartisan legislation Congressman Simpson cosponsored.
·         Prohibits the EPA from making changes to certain agricultural exemptions under the Clean Water Act.
·         Provides $1 million to compensate ranchers for livestock killed by wolves.
·         Language which prevents listing of sage grouse as an endangered species and adequate funding for sage grouse conservation.
·         Directs EPA, U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA), and DOE to establish clear policies regarding the carbon neutrality of biomass which is an important energy source and part of an all of the above energy strategy.
·         Continues language making litigation costs more transparent and extending requirements that litigants exhaust administrative review before litigating grazing issues in Federal court.
·         Provides a $185 million increase for the National Park Service to help reduce the deferred maintenance backlog. This is one of the largest increases NPS has received to address the $11.6 billion maintenance backlog. Congressman Simpson also introduced standalone legislation to address this issue.
·         Includes funding for Native American communities to help improve infrastructure and health care needs.
·         Language that directs the Bureau of Land Management to work with the State of Idaho regarding aquifer recharge.


“Whether it is resources for our farmers and ranchers or research that guarantees a safe and efficient food supply, USDA plays a vital role in Idaho,” said Congressman Simpson. “The bill also includes language that allows for the Dubois Sheep Station to remain open and work in a collaborative manner on a long term plan for future research.”
·         Provides funding for the USDA Rural Utilities Service Circuit Rider program which helps fund rural communities to provide safe and affordable drinking water.
·         Provides funding for National Institutes of Food and Agriculture potato and wheat research.
·         Continues previous years’ language authored by Congressman Simpson that blocks the President’s proposed closure of the U.S. Sheep Experimental Station in Dubois, Idaho.
·         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.


“For years we have heard from our military leaders that defense spending is not keeping pace with increased demands on our military,” said Simpson.  “As lawmakers, it is our responsibility to ensure that our troops have the resources they need to complete every mission and anticipate new threats.  At $654.6 billion for defense spending, this bill does the work towards making critical investments in our nation’s military and safeguarding our American way of life.”

This is the biggest year-to-year increase in defense funding in 15 years.
·         Fully funds a 2.4% pay raise for our troops.
·         Includes an additional $221.7M above the request for additional end strength.
·         Directs $103M for A-10 wing replacements.

Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education

“Impact Aid is vitally important across the state of Idaho, providing support for schools and tax relief for local communities.  I am pleased that this bill honors our commitment to federally-impacted schools by increasing funds for Impact Aid programs,” said Congressman Simpson. “The Labor H bill contains life-saving research funding by substantially increasing NIH to continue their important initiatives. Most of this money flows out to universities like Boise State, Idaho State, and University of Idaho, who conducts the biomedical research that ultimately saves lives.”

·         Includes $1.41 billion for Impact Aid, an $85 million increase for education programs that benefit Idaho schools and counties.
·         Provides for a $3 billion increase to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to continue lifesaving research initiatives
·         Provides funding to address the nation’s opioid addiction crisis through prevention and treatment initiatives.  

The House passed H.R. 1625 by a vote of 256-167, and it will be considered by the U.S. Senate tomorrow.  Links to the full bill text and reports can be found here.

For bill-by-bill summaries, please visit:

Agriculture Appropriations Bill

Commerce/Justice/Science Appropriations Bill

Department of Defense Appropriations Bill

Energy and Water Appropriations Bill

Financial Services Appropriations Bill

Homeland Security Appropriations Bill

Interior/Environment Appropriations Bill

Labor/Health and Human Services/Education Appropriations Bill

Legislative Branch Appropriations Bill

Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill-

State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill

Transportation/Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Bill