Arrow-right Camera
Go to e-Edition Sign up for newsletters Customer service
Subscribe now

This column reflects the opinion of the writer. To learn about the differences between a news story and an opinion column, click here.

Opinion >  Column

Eye on Boise: ‘Our support is necessary’ in Yemen conflict, Risch says

Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, arrives at Capitol Hill, Thursday, May 17, 2018 in Washington. Risch voted this week against a measure to end U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s military actions in Yemen. (Alex Brandon / AP)
Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, arrives at Capitol Hill, Thursday, May 17, 2018 in Washington. Risch voted this week against a measure to end U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s military actions in Yemen. (Alex Brandon / AP)

The U.S. Senate voted 63-37 last week to advance a resolution aimed at ending U.S. military support for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen; Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, who is in line to chair the Senate Foreign Relations committee in January, opposed it, while current Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker supported it.

According to the Washington Post, the resolution was spurred in part by anger over journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s killing and the role of the Saudi crown prince.

“We understand that Saudi Arabia is an ally, of sorts, and a semi-important country,” Corker, R-Tenn., told the Post. “We’ve watched innocent people be killed … we also have a crown prince who is out of control.”

Fourteen Republican senators joined every Senate Democrat in the vote to advance the resolution, which still faces additional procedural hurdles; it would invoke the War Powers Act to end military support for the campaign in Yemen. Neither Risch nor his colleague Sen. Mike Crapo was among the 14.

Risch issued this statement on his vote:

“First, this resolution should have gone through the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as regular order requires – it did not; it was forced to the floor with limited consideration. Second, I believe existing authorities cover the extremely limited support the United States is providing in Yemen. Most importantly, our support is necessary to protect our national security interests from the extremists and foreign proxies threatening the sovereignty of Yemen.”

Nye to take over as chief

U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill will step down as the chief district judge for Idaho’s federal courts on Jan. 1, and the chief judge role will be taken over by new U.S. District Judge David Nye. Winmill will remain on the court with a full docket of cases.

Winmill has been the chief district judge for the district of Idaho for more than 19 years, which is highly unusual; chief judges normally serve for a maximum of seven years. Because Idaho had no other judges available – for more than two years, Winmill was Idaho’s only active U.S. District judge, as the process to replace longtime Judge Edward Lodge lagged in Congress – Winmill remained in the administrative role, on top of his courtroom duties.

He’s now served almost a triple term as chief judge.

Idaho’s congressional delegation has long pushed to add a third U.S. District judge to the state; Idaho is one of only three states with just two authorized federal district judges. The other two are North Dakota and Vermont.

Idaho got its second federal judgeship in 1954 when its population hit 600,000; the state’s population is now just over 1.7 million, according to the U.S. Census.

In May, legislation to add 52 new federal district judgeships, including one in Idaho, cleared a House committee, but hasn’t advanced.

Idaho 2nd District GOP Rep. Mike Simpson has introduced legislation to add a third U.S. district judge in Idaho every two years for more than a decade.

Inaugural events set

The formal inauguration of Brad Little as Idaho’s next governor has been set for noon on Jan. 4 on the south steps of the state Capitol.

The ceremony will include the swearing-in of the governor, lieutenant governor, secretary of state, state controller, state treasurer, attorney general and superintendent of public instruction, as well as Little’s inaugural address. The event is free and open to the public; Jefferson Street in front of the Capitol will be closed from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. to accommodate the crowd. Free parking for people with disabilities will be offered on Eighth Street between Jefferson and State, which also will be closed for the event.

Then, on Saturday, Jan. 5, the traditional Inaugural Procession and Ball will take place in the Capitol. This event, held for each Idaho inaugural since 1913, will feature the Idaho National Guard’s 25th Army Band, a grand processional in the Capitol rotunda, dancing and refreshments. It is open to the public, and financed entirely by ticket sales, at $25 for adults and $10 for children 12 and under.

Doors will open at 7 p.m., and the grand procession of elected officers, legislators and distinguished guests will start at 8 p.m.; ballgoers gathered on all levels of the rotunda have prime views. A 1913 newspaper report said the processional “wound up and over the spacious staircase … like a many-colored serpent of various hues.” It’s still done that way.

Tickets are available online at; they’ll also be sold in the garden level of the Capitol rotunda Thursday and Friday and Jan. 2-4 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets also may be ordered by mail: Send a check payable to Idaho Inaugural Ball, P.O. Box 5065, Boise ID 83705.

The inaugural events, including the ball, are run with military precision, keeping to long-established traditions. That’s because, by law, the adjutant general of the Idaho National Guard is in charge of the events.

More from this author