Recently in Washington
On Wednesday, the House passed H.R. 1301, the Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2017, by a vote of 371-48. This legislation appropriates base discretionary funding for the Department of Defense for fiscal year 2017. This legislation provides for key readiness programs that prepare our troops for combat and peacetime missions, keeps our military on the cutting edge of defense technology, outfits our military force to conduct successful operations, enhances medical care and ensure full benefits for our troops, military families, and retirees, and maintains a strong, robust active and reserve force by fully funding a 2.1% pay raise for our troops.
Simpson Applauds Administration’s Decision to Rein in WOTUS Rule
President Trump directs EPA to reconsider rule that would expand federal jurisdiction over water
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson applauds the Trump Administration’s executive order that directs the Army Corps of Engineers and EPA to review and reconsider an Obama Administration rule that would expand the definition of “waters of the United States.”
Simpson chairs the appropriations subcommittee overseeing the budget for the US Army Corps of Engineers and sits on 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. Implementation of the rule was already on hold as a federal appeals court was considering a legal challenge filed by states.
“Under the Obama Administration, the EPA attempted to drastically expand the reach of EPA regulations to ground water, farm ponds, and ditches,” said Congressman Simpson. “Simply put, the rule was a shot across the bow to westerners because water is life. I applaud this Administration for taking the first step in rolling back this potentially burdensome regulation. The directive will give Idahoans the relief I have been advocating for since the rule was first proposed.”
The controversial rule would expand the definition of “waters of the United States” by removing the word “navigable.” As a result, federal regulation under the Clean Water Act could apply to virtually all water, including ground water. States currently regulate non-navigable water.
Simpson Votes to Fund Our Troops and A-10
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson praised passage of H.R. 1301, the Fiscal Year (FY) 17 Defense Appropriations bill. Simpson supported the legislation which fulfills the constitutional responsibility of Congress to provide for the common defense by funding the Department of Defense.
“This bill provides our troops with the tools necessary to keep us safe at home and abroad while providing service members and their families with the support they deserve,” said Simpson. “With an ever-changing enemy, we have to ensure our military is ready to protect us from those who want to do us harm.”
Crucially, the bill also provides funding for the A-10 Thunderbolt II, which currently operates at Gowen Field in Boise, and is essential to the mission there. The FY17 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) contained language preventing the retirement of the A-10 Thunderbolt II.
The bill also provides for a 2.1% pay raise for over 1.3 million active-duty and 810,000 Guard and Reserve troops authorized in the FY17 NDAA.
H.R. 1301 passed the House of Representatives with a bipartisan vote of 371-48.
Daines, Tester, Simpson, Peterson Introduce Legislation to Reverse Disastrous Court Ruling
U.S. Senators Steve Daines (R-MT) and Jon Tester (D-MT) and U.S. Representatives Mike Simpson (R-ID) and Collin Peterson (D-MN) underscored the urgency in reversing the ruling of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cottonwood Environmental Law Center v. U.S. Forest Service by introducing bipartisan bicameral legislation to do just that.
The bill seeks to codify the position taken by the Obama administration that federal agencies are not required to consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service at a programmatic level when new critical habitat is designated or a new species is listed.
“We need to take action immediately to reverse this disastrous court ruling that negatively impacts forest health, recreation, and watershed and habitat protection,” Daines stated. “This bipartisan legislation enjoys the support of diverse stakeholders and will protect Montana jobs and the commonsense collaborative forest management projects that have been harmed by this court decision.”
“The Cottonwood decision could lead to endless red tape for folks working on timber projects, trail maintenance, and conservation efforts,” Tester said. “To restore certainty for Montana mills and folks who work in the woods, we need to eliminate these hurdles created by the court and get this bipartisan bill signed into law.”
“Managing our forests is already challenging enough with increasing costs of wildfires,” said Simpson. “The last thing our land managers need is a duplicative process that prevents the Forest Service from pursuing important projects that improves forest health and increases access to our public lands. Congress must move swiftly to reverse the Cottonwood decision before it unnecessarily delays this seasons planned management activities.”
“Ongoing working forest management projects should not be interrupted for bureaucratic reasons because it wastes time and precious dollars. As an avid sportsman, I look forward to this bill moving through Congress,” said Peterson.
Currently there are conflicting circuit court interpretations in the Ninth (Cottonwood Environmental Law Center v. Forest Service) and Tenth Circuits (Forest Guardians v. Forsgren) on this matter of wide-ranging import, but in October 2016 the Supreme Court denied the Department of Justice’s petition to settle the discrepancy.
According to the U.S. Forest Service, 80 vegetation management projects and hundreds of millions of board feet are at risk due to Cottonwood.
Daines and Tester introduced comparable legislation in the 114th Congress. Former U.S. Representative Ryan Zinke introduced the House companion.
The text of the bill can be found HERE.
At 10:00 a.m., the House Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Subcommittee on Appropriations will hold a hearing with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
At 10:00 a.m, the House Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Subcommittee on Appropriations will hold a hearing with a panel of outside witnesses on early childhood education.
MONDAY, MARCH 13TH
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 15TH
1) 1) H.R. 132 - Arbuckle Project Maintenance Complex and District Office Conveyance Act of 2017 (Sponsored by Rep. Tom Cole / Natural Resources Committee)
4) H.R. 1238 - Securing our Agriculture and Food Act (Sponsored by Rep. David Young / Homeland Security Committee)
THURSDAY, MARCH 16TH
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