U.S. Congressman Mike Simpson - 2nd District of Idaho
U.S. Congressman Mike Simpson - 2nd District of Idaho
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Recently in Washington

The House passed H.R. 23, the Gaining Responsibility on Water Act of 2017, by a vote of 230 to 190.  The bill addresses underlying federal policy, regulatory, and administrative failures that have contributed to the mismanagement of water supplies across the western United States. The House also passed H.R. 2810, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018, by a vote of 344 to 81.  The annual defense authorization bill fulfills Congress’s Constitutional responsibility to "provide for the common defense” and authorizes funding for the Department of Defense so our service men and women have the tools and resources they need to defend our nation.  Funding these core defense requirements such as personnel, training, maintenance, and procurement will help ensure our troops are ready and have the necessary support to fulfill their missions.  Congressman Simpson supported both bills.
 

Simpson Sustains INL Funding in Energy Bill
 
House Appropriations Committee advances Energy and Water and Agriculture spending bills

Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson announced that the Fiscal Year 2018 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill protects 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, which passed the bill through the full House Appropriations Committee today, and had the lead role in deciding funding for all Department of Energy programs.

“The FY18 Energy and Water bill provides comprehensive investment for the groundbreaking research and development conducted at the Idaho National Laboratory,” said Chairman Simpson.  “Whether it be through its work in advanced reactor and fuel development, battery and bioenergy programs, or protecting the electric grid from cyber-attacks; the INL is enhancing our national security and increasing American competitiveness.  I am pleased that this bill fulfills the needs of the lab to continue this critical work, and that it sends a strong message of support for its world class workforce.”

The FY 2018 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill sets funding for the DOE’s Office of Nuclear Energy at $969 million.  Nuclear energy research and development programs that receive funding within the overall $969 billion allocation include:

· The Idaho Facilities Management account, which covers infrastructure maintenance and improvement at INL, is funded at $238 million – a $6.3 million increase over last year.

· 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.


Simpson Votes for Defense Bill that Supports our Troops and Includes Big Wins for Idaho
 
Defense bill includes rail conveyance for the City of Mountain Home to spur economic development

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. 


Simpson Applauds Secretary Zinke for Craters of the Moon Decision

Idaho Congressman applauds U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke for his announcement that Craters of the Moon National Monument is no longer under review. Further, the Secretary will recommend that no modifications should be made to the monuments.

“I applaud Secretary Zinke for honoring the local consensus Idahoans have created with Craters of the Moon,” said Congressman Simpson. “I worked with a diverse group of stakeholders over ten years ago to ensure Craters reflects Idaho values and can be enjoyed by outdoor enthusiasts. I know Secretary Zinke shares these values and I thank him for his leadership.”

In a press release issued by Secretary Zinke he said, “As a former geologist, I realize Craters of the Moon is a living timeline of the geologic history of our land on the Great Rift. Whether it’s hiking up the alien-like lava flows along the Spatter Cones, or just driving through the scenic loop, there’s a lot to see and learn at this historic location.”

Craters of the Moon National Monument was under review in accordance with President Trump’s April 26, 2017, executive order. Secretary Zinke’s recommendation comes after review of public comments and conversations with stakeholders.


Committee Schedule 
Monday
At 7:00 p.m., the House Appropriations Committee will hold a full committee markup to consider the Fiscal Year 2018 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies Appropriations bill.   

 Tuesday
At 10:30 a.m., the House Appropriations Committee will hold a full committee markup to consider the Fiscal Year 2018 Homeland Security Appropriations bill and the Fiscal Year 2018 Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations bill.

 Wednesday
At 10:00 a.m., the House Appropriations Committee will hold a full committee markup to consider the Fiscal Year 2018 State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs Appropriations bill and the Fiscal Year 2018 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. 


Floor Schedule 

MONDAY, JULY 17TH
On Monday, the House will meet at 12:00 p.m. for morning hour and 2:00 p.m. for legislative business. Votes will be postponed until 6:30 p.m.

Legislation Considered Under Suspension of the Rules:

1) H.R. 2210 - To designate the community living center of the Department of Veterans Affairs in Butler Township, Butler County, Pennsylvania, as the Sergeant Joseph George Kusick VA Community Living Center (Sponsored by Rep. Mike Kelly / Veterans Affairs Committee)

2)
H.J.Res. 92 - Granting the consent and approval of Congress for the Commonwealth of Virginia, the State of Maryland, and the District of Columbia to amend the Washington Area Transit Regulation Compact (Sponsored by Rep. Barbara Comstock / Judiciary Committee)

3)
H.J.Res. 76 - Granting the consent and approval of Congress for the Commonwealth of Virginia, the State of Maryland, and the District of Columbia to a enter into a compact relating to the establishment of the Washington Metrorail Safety Commission (Sponsored by Rep. Steny Hoyer / Judiciary Committee)

TUESDAY, JULY 18TH
On Tuesday, the House will meet at 10:00 a.m. for morning hour and 12:00 p.m. for legislative business.

Legislation Considered Under Suspension of the Rules:

1) H.R. 2786 - To amend the Federal Power Act with respect to the criteria and process to qualify as a qualifying conduit hydropower facility (Sponsored by Rep. Richard Hudson / Energy and Commerce Committee)

2)
H.R. 2828 - To extend the deadline for commencement of construction of a hydroelectric project (Sponsored by Rep. Dan Newhouse / Energy and Commerce Committee)

3)
H.R. 3050 - Enhancing State Energy Security Planning and Emergency Preparedness Act of 2017 (Sponsored by Rep. Fred Upton / Energy and Commerce Committee)

H.R. 806 - Ozone Standards Implementation Act of 2017, Rules Committee Print (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Pete Olson / Energy and Commerce Committee)

WEDNESDAY, JULY 19TH
On Wednesday, the House will meet at 10:00 a.m. for morning hour and 12:00 p.m. for legislative business.

H.R. 2910 - Promoting Interagency Coordination for Review of Natural Gas Pipelines Act, Rules Committee Print (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Bill Flores / Energy and Commerce Committee)

H.R. 2883 - Promoting Cross-Border Energy Infrastructure Act, Rules Committee Print (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Markwayne Mullin / Energy and Commerce Committee)


THURSDAY, JULY 20TH
On Thursday, the House will meet at 9:00 a.m. for legislative business. Last votes expected no later than 3:00 p.m.

H.R. 218 - King Cove Road Land Exchange Act, Rules Committee Print (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Donald Young / Natural Resources Committee)

Additional Legislative Items are Possible


In the News
 Railway transfer could bring more jobs to Mountain Home, boost economy
 
By: Natalie Shaver, KTVB, July 14, 2017

MOUNTAIN HOME - Mountain Home could see a big economic boost if a defense funding bill before Congress passes.

The National Defense Authorization Act would authorize $696 billion in funding for the nation’s defense.

Congressman Mike Simpson amended the bill to include provisions to help Idaho.

The bill includes a provision that will streamline transferring ownership of an unused rail spur from the Air Force to the city of Mountain Home. Simpson said this is critical to attracting businesses to Mountain Home, which is planning an industrial park.

"I am very pleased that my amendment was adopted, and I am excited to see the rail conveyance create economic opportunities in the region," Simpson said in a statement. "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."

"Every year we lose out on about six to nine potential businesses or industries because we don't have the rail, and that's their number one requirement is rail," Mountain Home Mayor Rich Sykes said.

Sykes said he and previous mayors have been trying to acquire the railroad for decades. He said the Air Force hasn’t used it more than 20 years.

The city has been working with the Air Force to either buy the rail or get a long-term lease for it. It’s a drawn-out process, but with Simpson’s amendment it speeds up.

"We can be the central hub of everything,” Sykes said. “You can go to Seattle, Washington, Portland, Salt Lake City."

The city will use the rail to attract businesses to the planned industrial park. The idea is to create more jobs for the people who live in Mountain Home.

"That's our number-one complaint is for the Air Force spouses there's no jobs. And these jobs, you know we see there's factory worker jobs, but there's also CPAS, accountants," Sykes said.  

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.

The bill passed the House by a bipartisan vote of 344-81.  


House editorial: Miscellany: A week of updates big and small
 
Post Register, July 16, 2017

Simpson makes us believe in magic

On Friday, Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson announced the Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill for the 2018 Fiscal Year budget protects funding for the Idaho National Lab, the Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy and cleanup work at the INL site.

Simpson’s work on the bill was masterful. He managed to salvage most of the necessary funding for maintaining the modus operandi at INL in the face of ruthless requested budget cuts in the DOE with Trump’s first foray into negotiating government spending.

Simpson said the Energy and Water Subcommittee, of which he is chairman, was given a solid budget cut of $209 million, with a request for $1 billion in spending transferred to work on nuclear weapons and other strategic defense programs.

It made for some hard sacrifices, most notably in Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) spending, which handles renewable energy research programs.

Overall, the $969 million spending bill has $48 million trimmed from nuclear energy, a light belt-tightening when compared to the many programs zeroed out in Trump’s skinny budget.

Safe from seriously detrimental cuts are the INL’s facilities management budget, nuclear reactor research funding, including $83 million for the Advanced Test Reactor, the INL electrical grid test system and the DOE cybersecurity programs, many of which operate at the INL.

This is the kind of behind-the-scenes work that sometimes goes unnoticed back home, but take note: Simpson just performed the equivalent of a Houdini-style escape from certain death and eastern Idaho should be cheering.


MEDIA CENTER


Simpson Congratulates 2017 High School Congressional Art Contest winner


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