The U.S. House has overwhelmingly passed an omnibus year-end spending bill on a vote of 316-113; Idaho 2nd District GOP Rep. Mike Simpson applauded it as including “many critical wins for Idaho and western states,” while Idaho 1st District Rep. Raul Labrador, who voted no, decried it as “an abject failure for Idaho.” The bill, a bipartisan spending bill, is up for a vote in the Senate today and President Obama has said he’ll sign it; it keeps the government running through September 2016 and avoids a threatened government shutdown.
UPDATE: The Senate passed the bill on Friday on a on a 65-33 vote, sending it to the president's desk; both Idaho Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch voted no. Crapo said, “This catch-all funding measure is a big part of what is wrong with Congress.” His full statement is online here.
Simpson said, “I applaud Chairman Rogers and Speaker Ryan for their hard work in assembling this comprehensive and responsible package that will keep the government open through the rest of this fiscal year. This bill contains many critical wins for Idaho and Western States. It avoids the inefficient and negligent practice of funding the government through continuing resolutions, and is instead the product of this past year’s worth of thoughtful deliberation and line-by-line analysis of our budget. It will make vital investments in our national economy, all while adhering to budget caps that are $56 billion below the Ryan budget for FY16 and $70 billion below the Ryan budget for FY17. With all of the provisions that support conservative priorities and Idaho specifically, and I am so pleased to see that it passed the House with overwhelming support.”
As an Appropriations Committee member and subcommittee chairman, Simpson played a key role in setting funding levels for Department of Energy and Interior Department programs in the bill, including significant boosts to the Idaho National Laboratory for infrastructure, security, safety, cleanup and research; allowing heavier trucks weighing up to 129,000 pounds on Idaho interstates; more funding for firefighting and hazardous fuels reduction; a $452 million cut to EPA funding below the president’s request; preservation of the U.S. Sheep Experimental Station in Dubois; retaining the A-10 Thunderbolt II mission for the Idaho National Guard at Gowen Field in Boise for another year; and a $17 million dollar increase in impact aid to rural counties and schools impacted by lower timber proceeds on federal lands.
Labrador said, “The spending deal between Republican leadership and Democrats is an abject failure for Idaho. Instead of advancing conservative policies this bill funds President Obama’s agenda and ignores the needs of Western states. That’s why I voted ‘no’ today.” He dismissed the Idaho gains in the bill as “low-hanging fruit,” and said the bill didn’t roll back regulatory restraints on water, power, mining and energy production. “Our majority party didn’t get any of the important policy changes I advocated, including tougher screening for refugees from Syria and Iraq and defunding Planned Parenthood. Additionally, the bill includes the Cybersecurity Act of 2015, which strips privacy protections against excessive government intrusion and surveillance,” Labrador said.
“Passing an omnibus appropriations bill at the end of the year is not the way to legislate,” he said. “Like Speaker Ryan, I am hopeful that next year we will pass individual appropriations bills and return to regular order.”