Idaho Republican Rep. Mike Simpson will now chair the House subcommittee with authority over the Idaho National Laboratory, the Bureau of Reclamation and the Bonneville Power Administration.
The Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development has far-reaching spending power over the eastern Idaho labs research and cleanup operations; the agencies that run the dams on the Boise, Payette and Snake Rivers; and the agencies in charge of the Pacific Northwests hydroelectric dams and power revenues.
Simpsons move Wednesday was precipitated by the death of Rep. Bill Young of Florida, which caused a reshuffling of leadership assignments among majority House Republicans.
The Idaho delegation has a strong history of involvement in federal issues related to energy development and water infrastructure, and in particular nuclear energy, Simpson said in a news release. This new assignment gives me the opportunity to expand our involvement in these issues and make sure the concerns of our state and region are heard and addressed.
The panel also has spending authority over the National Nuclear Security Administration, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board and the Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board.
Last month, Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador told the Idaho Statesmans editorial board that the value of having an Idahoan as chairman of the Energy subcommittee was overrated.
I dont think one man or one mans election is critical to Idahos economy, Labrador said.
Simpson faces a challenge from Idaho Falls attorney Bryan Smith, who has the backing of the conservative group Club for Growth.
Simpson was required to give up his chairmanship of the Subcommittee on Interior and the Environment under House term limit rules. He will still sit on that committee as well as the Subcommittee on Health and Human Services, Labor and Education.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.