Capitol & State

Idaho’s representatives split on budget bill; both senators vote no

Idaho’s two U.S. Representatives split on the $1.1 trillion consolidated spending bill approved by Congress Friday while both Idaho senators voted against it.

One day after Rep. Mike Simpson praised the package’s benefits, Rep. Raúl Labrador attacked it as a deal between the Republican leadership and Democrats and “an abject failure for Idaho.”

“Instead of advancing conservative policies this bill funds President Obama’s agenda and ignores the needs of Western states,” Labrador said in a statement.

The bill was approved 316-113 in the House. The Senate, moving quickly, subsequently approved it in a 65-33 vote. Idaho Sens. Jim Risch and Mike Crapo both voted no.

Leadership in both the House and Senate endorsed the package and President Obama has said he will sign it.

Labrador criticized the bill for not rolling back the Environmental Protection Agency’s Waters of the United States rule, which defines which waterways fall under the federal jurisdiction, or the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, the administration’s effort to reduce carbon emissions from power plants, which critics oppose as an industry burden and economic hindrance. He criticized the spending package for not lifting restraints on mining and energy production or allowing state sage grouse conservation plans to supplant a federal plan announced earlier this year.

Finally, he noted the package raises spending by $66 billion over previously agreed-to limits, did not include initiatives he supported for enhanced screening of refugees and defunding Planned Parenthood, and also inserted the Cybersecurity Act of 2015 (page 1,728 of the 2,009-page bill), which seeks to encourage private companies to share cyber threat information with the government while protecting them from liability for not acting on information. Critics, both Democrats and Republicans, call it an expanded surveillance bill that lacks privacy protections against disclosure of personal information.

The spending bill includes $548 billion in defense spending and $518 billion in non-defense spending. An earlier tax bill negotiated with the spending bill makes permanent $620 billion in tax breaks for businesses and low-income families.

Crapo, in a statement, criticized the spending and tax package for “adding billions of dollars to our national debt.”

“Moreover, this funding process should have been used to achieve reforms of major overreach by the executive branch in areas like managing sage grouse habitat or stopping the federal grab of jurisdiction over water from the states,” he said.

Risch did not respond to a request for comment.

  Comments