Critics may say that Congressman Mike Simpson, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, “caved” to Republican leadership in his vote against the $1.7 trillion omnibus appropriations package that both houses of Congress approved … while selling out his Idaho constituents in the process.
It’s probably more like this: Simpson did what he had to do politically and, since the bill passed, everything he wrote in the budget bill for Idaho is there. Yes, Washington politics is messy. But consider what Simpson was up against. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who appears on the verge of being the next House speaker, has made clear his opposition to the package. Nine Republicans voted for the measure, and only two of those are returning to the new Congress that convenes on Jan. 3. So, Simpson didn’t have much choice but to oppose.
Simpson, a former Idaho House speaker, knows how political power works. You don’t run crossways with the speaker of the House, whether it’s the Idaho Legislature or Congress. In this case, Simpson supports McCarthy and his leadership team. Simpson is in a lofty position, and there’s no need for him to create misery for himself for the next two years.
Typically, Simpson votes for the budget resolutions and offers detailed (and convincing) arguments for how Idaho benefits from those omnibus packages. It’s hard to imagine Simpson in a new normal – working as hard as he does to take care of his home state, then bailing out on the budget vote. But this time, bucking House leadership would not work to his advantage.
Simpson, of course, didn’t bring up the sticky political situation in his short news release announcing his opposition to the appropriations package.
“While there are plenty of individual provisions of this bill that I support, the positives did not outweigh the tremendous cost of the total package and the irresponsible 11th -hour gimmicks thrown in by Democrats to hide the true cost of the package,” Simpson said in his news release.Advertisement
“I applaud the inclusion of more than $36.8 million for the worthy Idaho projects that I submitted, a rider to prevent sage grouse ESA listing, and the funding of critical defense provisions in the NDAA. However, the final package fails to address Americans’ most urgent needs and instead indulges Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats on one final reckless, inflation spending binge in the waning hours of their House majority.”
Idaho Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch also issued statements reflecting their opposition to the $1.7 trillion bill, which was in line with how they usually vote on those packages. As with Simpson, Crapo sees some positives from the measure – including bipartisan initiatives he has championed — but does not support the “all-or-nothing” approach.
“Instead of moving forward with individual spending bills to allow members of Congress to separate good policy from bad, we are once again having to vote on a single bill that will unfortunately add to our unsustainable debt crisis,” Crapo said. “Unrestrained federal spending over the past two years has led to one of the most expensive holiday seasons in history. It is past time to rein in reckless unnecessary government spending and get our fiscal house in order.”Advertisement
Risch says Congress needs to rein in government spending, abandon earmarks and treat taxpayer dollars with respect.
“This omnibus dramatically missed that mark,” Risch said. “At a time when Idahoans are facing the highest prices in decades, it is insulting for Congress to spend another $1.7 trillion that will add fuel to the inflationary fire. The 4,155 pages of this monstrous bill include billions for liberal priorities and pet project giveaways.”
Runaway spending in Congress is not new, which is why our national debt is more than $31 trillion and climbing every second. The question is whether members of Congress will do anything about it, aside from voting against multi-trillion-dollar omnibus appropriations packages that pop up. Maybe things will be better with Republicans holding a slim majority in the House of Representatives, but don’t count on it.
Chuck Malloy is a long-time Idaho journalist and columnist. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
This Op-Ed was submitted by Chuck Malloy. Op-Eds do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of those at the Idaho Dispatch.
Tags: Appropriations, Congressman Mike Simpson, Federal Spending, Kevin McCarthy, Nancy Pelosi, National Debt, Omnibus Bill, Senator Jim Risch, Senator Mike Crapo