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Simpson Secures Idaho Provisions in Year-End Legislation

INL, PILT, SRS, and wildfire funding included along with Obamacare tax repeals

Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson today applauded the House passage of H.R. 1158 and H.R. 1865, which will fund the federal government for fiscal year 2020 and include numerous critical benefits for Idaho and Western States. 

“I’m very pleased to see this package come to fruition today,” said Simpson.  “This is Congress doing its job and fulfilling its Constitutional duty to keep the government funded.  Besides avoiding an unacceptable and irresponsible continuing resolution or government shutdown, these bills contain huge wins for Idaho and the nation.  Those wins include two additional years of funding for Secure Rural Schools; record funding for the Idaho National Laboratory and a major initiative to demonstrate advanced nuclear reactors; maintaining enacted pro-life and 2nd Amendment protections; and the repeal of some of Obamacare’s most onerous tax provisions.”

As Ranking Member of the House Energy and Water Development Subcommittee and a member of the House Interior and Environment Subcommittee, 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 portion of H.R.1865 contains significant funding for Idaho National Laboratory (INL) and the Office of Nuclear Energy,” said Simpson.  “Combined with other portions of this package, these bills will reestablish the U.S. leadership role in nuclear energy.  It also recognizes that clean nuclear energy MUST be part of our energy future.  After years of significant investment in research, development and facilities, this bill charts a course to begin building advanced reactor technologies, and I look forward to seeing some of these new nuclear reactors being built at our own INL.”

Idaho-specific wins in the Energy and Water portion of H.R. 1865 include:  

  • $1.49 billion for the Office of Nuclear Energy, an increase of $167 million over last year. 
  • Over $400 million to maintain and upgrade INL facilities, including $25.45 million for the Sample Preparation Laboratory to be built at INL.
  • Initiation of a $230 million program to demonstrate advanced nuclear reactors.  As the nation’s lead lab for nuclear energy research and development, INL is the likely home for these advanced reactor demonstrations.
  • $100 million for Advanced Small Modular Reactor research and development.
  • $65 million for the Versatile Test Reactor.
  • $20 million for the National Reactor Innovation Center recently established at INL.
  • $20 million for micro reactor research and development. 
  • $15.6 million to upgrade facilities for the security forces at the INL Materials and Fuel Complex.
  • $11 million and addition funds in the Fuel Cell Technology Office account to use nuclear power plants to produce hydrogen for transportation and industrial uses. 
  • $10 million for INL’s new Sawtooth supercomputer.
  • Funds to expand INL’s leadership role to protect the electric grid and other critical infrastructure from cyber-attack.
  • $433.5 million for cleanup activities associated with the Idaho Cleanup Project. 

Interior and Environment

“Idaho’s public lands are why we live here, which is why the Interior and Environment section of this bill is critical to how we enjoy the outdoors,” said Simpson. “I am thrilled that the wildfire cap adjustment I fought for years to enact, will be implemented in fiscal year 2020 and provide land managers the resources they need to both fight and prevent future fires in the west. I am also pleased to see PILT and SRS funded which rural counties depend on for infrastructure and schools.”

  • Provides full funding for 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 receives more than $30 million.
  • The bill includes a two-year extension of 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. Congressman Simpson has been advocating for both PILT and SRS legislation and cosponsored important legislation on both programs in September.
  • Provides $5.6 billion for the Forest Service and the Department of the Interior to fight wildfires. Fiscal year 2020 is also the first year of wildfire cap adjustment which Congressman Simpson fought for to treat wildfires like other natural disasters.
  • Prioritizes funding for the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Loan fund, which states and local governments use for water infrastructure projects.
  • Continues a provision to relieve livestock operations of EPA permitting requirements similar to bipartisan legislation Congressman Simpson cosponsored.
  • Provides $1 million to compensate ranchers for livestock killed by wolves.
  • Language which prevents listing of sage grouse as an endangered species and provides $64 million in funding for the Bureau of Land Management towards sage grouse conservation.
  • Continues a provision which 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.
  • 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.


“Agriculture is the backbone of our economy in Idaho and if we intend to feed the world we must invest in our farmers and ranchers,” said Simpson. “The language included in the bill that acknowledges the support for the Sheep Station and the collaborative work among diverse stakeholders, gives positive momentum to ensuring the future of Dubois and mutual research goals that ranchers and sportsmen agree on. Of course, the continued research for potatoes, grain, and other commodities is vital as we seek to expand the trade reach of Idaho products around the globe.”

  • Includes language that supports the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station in Dubois and acknowledges the work of the diverse stakeholders Congressman Simpson convened to support current research to collaborate on future research objectives.
  • Provides funding for the USDA Rural Utilities Service Circuit Rider program which helps fund rural communities to provide safe and affordable drinking water.
  • Includes language directing the FDA to develop a standard identity for dairy based on existing standards, which is similar to Senator Risch and Congressman Simpson’s bipartisan DAIRY Pride Act.
  • Includes language that reverses an Obama era regulation that created barriers for potatoes to be included in the school breakfast program. The rider was inserted by Congressman Simpson during a 2018 House Appropriations Committee markup seen here.
  • 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 for potato and wheat research.
  • Continues funding for the Molecular Marker Potato Breeding Program located at the ARS research facility in Aberdeen.


“After last week’s passage of the National Defense Authorization Act, I am pleased that the Congress has also passed a strong defense appropriations bill,” said Simpson.  “For the past three years, we have made meaningful strides in rebuilding our military and bolstering readiness, fulfilling our obligation to provide for the common defense.  Most importantly, this bill supports our troops and their families by providing a pay raise and addressing quality of life issues.”

  • Provides a 3.1 percent pay raise for troops, the largest in a decade;
  • $34 billion for Defense Health programs for servicemembers and research;
  • Fully funds the U.S.-Israel Memorandum of Understanding;
  • Rejects Democrat proposals to restrict the President’s ability to use funds to secure borders;
  • Includes funding to modernize the A-10 Thunderbolt II, the aircraft maintained and deployed by the Idaho Air National Guard’s 124th Fighter Wing, based at Gowen Field in Boise.

Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education:

“One of my top annual priorities is the Impact Aid program, which supports schools and gives tax relief to local communities that are impacted by the presence of federal activities,” said Simpson.  “These funds make all the difference for federally-impacted Idaho schools, and I commend my colleagues for acknowledging our responsibility to these students.  I am also pleased by the strong showing of support this bill gives for the life-saving research funded by the National Institutes of Health.  Idaho research institutions such as Boise State, Idaho State, and University of Idaho use these funds to make advancements in biomedical research each and every day, and this bill will continue to support their efforts.”

  • $1.4 billion for the Department of Education Impact Aid program;
  • $41.6 billion for the National Institutes of Health, an increase of $2.6 billion over fiscal year 2019;
  • Funding for the CDC Newborn Screening Quality Assurance Program.
  • Maintains currently enacted pro-life protections.

The House passed H.R. 1158 by a vote of 280-138 and H.R. 1865 by a vote of 297-120, and they will be considered by the U.S. Senate in the coming days.  Links to the bill text and reports can be found here:

H.R. 1158

H.R. 1865