Recently in Washington
On Wednesday, the House passed H.R. 5797, the IMD CARE Act, by a vote of 261 to 155. The bill allows state Medicaid programs to remove the Institutions for Mental Diseases (IMD) exclusion for Medicaid beneficiaries aged 21 to 64 with an opioid use disorder for fiscal years 2019 to 2023. By removing the exclusion, Medicaid would pay for up to 30 total days of care in an IMD during a 12-month period for eligible individuals. The House also passed H.R. 6082, the Overdose Prevention and Patient Safety Act, by a vote of 357 to 57. The bill expands the circumstances under which medical records relating to substance use disorders can be disclosed to healthcare providers, plans, and health care clearing houses, thereby enabling medical professionals to access that information when treating patients.
On Thursday, the House rejected H.R. 4760, the Securing America's Future Act, by a vote of 193 to 231. The bill would have reformed existing immigration laws, including legal immigration programs, authorized funding to secure the border, and provided a legislative solution for the current beneficiaries of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
The House passed H.R. 2, the Agriculture and Nutrition Act of 2018 (the Farm Bill), by a vote of 213 to 211. The bill reforms and reauthorizes farm and nutrition assistance programs for five years, strengthening the farm safety net and maintaining and improving the nation’s nutrition programs to assist those who struggle to put food on the table, while providing critical training to help people learn the skills necessary to gain well-paying jobs, financial self-sufficiency and better futures for themselves and their families.
The Truth about the Omnibus
By Congressman Mike Simpson
“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 Applauds EPA Action on WOTUS Rule
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.”
Simpson Supports Farm Bill
Legislation Passes U.S. House
Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson 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 this week.
MONDAY, JUNE 25TH
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. 5783 - Cooperate with Law Enforcement Agencies and Watch Act of 2018, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. French Hill / Financial Services Committee)
2) H.R. 435 - Credit Access and Inclusion Act of 2017, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Keith Ellison / Financial Services Committee)
3) H.R. 4294 - Prevention of Private Information Dissemination Act of 2017, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. David Kustoff / Financial Services Committee)
4) H.R. 6069 - FIND Trafficking Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Juan Vargas / Financial Services Committee)
5) H.R. 5094 - Enhancing Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Peter King / Homeland Security Committee)
6) H.R. 5081 - Surface Transportation Security and Technology Accountability Act of 2018 (Sponsored by Rep. John Katko / Homeland Security Committee)
7) H.R. 5730 - Transportation Security Technology Innovation Reform Act of 2018, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. John Katko / Homeland Security Committee)
8) H.R. 5766 - Securing Public Areas of Transportation Facilities Act of 2018 (Sponsored by Rep. Donald Payne / Homeland Security Committee)
9) H.R. 5733 - DHS Industrial Control Systems Capabilities Enhancement Act of 2018, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Don Bacon / Homeland Security Committee)
10) H.R. 5206 - OBIM Authorization Act of 2018, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Martha McSally / Homeland Security Committee)
11) H.R. 5207 - IAP Authorization Act of 2018, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Martha McSally / Homeland Security Committee)
12) H.R. 5751 - To redesignate Golden Spike National Historic Site and to establish the Transcontinental Railroad Network, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Rob Bishop / Natural Resources Committee)
13) H.R. 221 - Hydrographic Services Improvement Amendments Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Don Young / Natural Resources Committee)
14) H.R. 805 - Tulare Youth Recreation and Women’s History Enhancement Act (Sponsored by Rep. Devin Nunes / Natural Resources Committee)
15) H.R. 857 - California Off-Road Recreation and Conservation Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Paul Cook / Natural Resources Committee)
16) H.R. 3392 - Lake Bistineau Land Title Stability Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Mike Johnson / Natural Resources Committee)
17) H.R. 4257 - Advancing Conservation and Education Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Chris Stewart / Natural Resources Committee)
18) H.R. 1791 - Mountains to Sound Greenway National Heritage Act, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Dave Reichert / Natural Resources Committee)
19) H.R. 299 - Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2018, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. David Valadao / Veterans Affairs Committee)
20) H.R. 4528 - To make technical amendments to certain marine fish conservation statutes, and for other purposes (Sponsored by Rep. Darren Soto / Natural Resources Committee)
TUESDAY, JUNE 26TH AND THE BALANCE OF THE WEEK
On Tuesday and Wednesday, the House will meet at 10:00 a.m. for morning hour and 12:00 p.m. for legislative business.
On Thursday, the House will meet at 9:00 a.m. for legislative business. Last votes expected no later than 3:00 p.m.
On Friday, no votes are expected in the House.
Legislation Considered Under Suspension of the Rules:
1) H.R. 5841 - Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act of 2018, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Robert Pittenger / Foreign Affairs Committee / Financial Services Committee)
H.R. 6157 - Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2019, Rules Committee Print (Subject to a Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Kay Granger / Appropriations Committee)
Complete Consideration of H.R. 6136 - Border Security and Immigration Reform Act (Closed Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Bob Goodlatte / Judiciary Committee / Homeland Security Committee)
Motion to Go to Conference on H.R. 5515 – National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018, and Democrat Motion to Instruct Conferees
Additional Legislative Items are Possible
In the News
House editorial: 2019 will be good year for Idaho
Post Register, June 13, 2018
Congressman Mike Simpson is having a pretty good year.
Somehow Simpson has continued to manage walking the fine line between being practically the state’s patron saint of public land issues and maintaining or increasing the state’s input on environmental protection and wildlife regulations.
Historically he has worked overtime on behalf of Idaho’s sportsmen both with his unswerving support for access to public lands, his years-long work on Cecil D. Andrus-White Clouds Wilderness, but also for those rural Idaho communities that depend on the federal government’s continued financial support – payment in lieu of taxes, or PILT – to offset the loss of tax income that comes from living in the backyard of the state’s massive stock of public lands.
Simpson also cobbled together 150 sponsors and bipartisan support for his Wildfire Disaster Funding Act which, in March, passed in the Omnibus Appropriations bill. The legislation sets aside $2 billion a year outside the Forest Service’s regular budget to battle fires during the annual wildfire season. “Fire borrowing was intended to be an extraordinary measure, but as fire seasons have grown more destructive, it has become common practice – and has created a devastating cycle that prevents agencies from doing needed hazardous fuels removal or timber harvests, leading to worse fires,” Simpson told the Associated Press at the time.
Several changes in the FY 2019 Interior and Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, which passed by a 25-20 vote margin last week, include language that directs the federal Bureau of Land Management to work with state or local agencies on issues like prohibiting banning recreational use of public lands except in cases of public safety, aquifer recharge and sediment build up caused by flooding.
Simpson also managed to help increase funding for PILT, argued for a $30 million increase for hazardous fuels management, which will provide funds to clear underbrush and thin trees to help prevent fires from climbing to treetops, fueling runaway megafires, and secured a $175 million increase to the National Park Service coffers to chip away at an $11.6 billion maintenance backlog.
Along with the news release containing information about provisions beneficial to Idaho because of Simpson’s work as chairman of the Energy and Water Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, were links to video clips of Simpson arguing his point of view on several topics.
These brief video clips are often worth watching because they offer fascinating windows into the world occupied by our congressional delegation two time zones to the east. They give perspective on how well-versed and pragmatic Simpson is on issues of importance to the state of Idaho and his constituents.
While arguing for clearer terminology than “navigable” “waters of the United States” included in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Water Act, Simpson said, “Navigable to what? A steam ship? A canoe? A rubber raft?”
That’s just one example of Simpson’s use of humor and language to communicate the, at times, farcical work of hammering out a single set of appropriations for a single year that will try to meet the needs of a nation of millions, maintain billions of acres, and fraught with agendas from lobbyists, activists, attorneys and congressional colleagues with their own baggage containing more of the same from the opposing side.
The best thing about it being a good year for Mike Simpson is that it’s also a really good year for Idaho.