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Thursday, July 9, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Idaho

Rural schools, roads funding passes House sans Labrador support

Idaho Congressman Raul Labrador cast one of just 37 “no” votes in the House this week on a program that provides millions of dollars to rural, timber-dependent Idaho counties for schools and roads.

The bill to fund reauthorization of the Secure Rural Schools program passed, 392-37. Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson was among its backers.

“This kind of bill represents exactly what the American people want to see out of their elected representatives,” Simpson said in a statement. “They want us to fix problems, not shout across the aisle and point fingers.”

The two-year reauthorization was included in legislation now headed to the Senate to revamp the formula that sets reimbursement amounts for doctors who treat Medicare patients. That “doc fix” has been patched by Congress each year while a permanent fix remained elusive.

Labrador’s spokesman, Dan Popkey, said Labrador wants a lasting solution for Secure Rural Schools.

“Attaching two years of SRS funding to a completely unrelated Medicare bill that adds $141 billion to our $18 trillion debt was unacceptable,” Popkey said. “The congressman will continue his effort to enact lasting reforms empowering rural counties to generate revenue from underutilized federal forests.”

Simpson, a dentist, said the move “has been the top priority for almost every Idaho medical professional who I have met with for years.”

“Before today’s vote, Congress had simply kicked the can down the road a total of 17 times, at a great cost to taxpayers and over the strong objections of the health community.”

Thirty-five of Idaho’s 44 counties receive the money. They received $2 million this year when the program wasn’t reauthorized; a year earlier, they received $28 million. The bill would reauthorize the program.

On Friday, the Senate voted 52-46 for a budget framework that includes funding for three years; both Idaho U.S. Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch voted yes.

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