Simpson claims political wins in appropriations bills

Idaho’s congressional delegation voted in support of the COVID Relief and Omnibus funding bill that passed Congress last night.

“I am relieved that a deal has been reached to help Idaho families and small business during this uncertain time,” said Congressman Mike Simpson. “This bill builds on the extraordinary success of Operation Warp Speed to help get vaccines to all Americans, provides stimulus checks to individuals and families, and enhances the Paycheck Protection Program to help Idaho’s many small businesses.  It also completes Congress’ appropriations work for Fiscal Year 2021,” said Representative Mike Simpson (R-ID).

The Covid Relief bill will send out checks of $600 to adults and dependents in households with an income below $75,000, extend the Paycheck Protection Program, funds the purchase and distribution of various COVID-19 vaccines, extends an additional $300 per week in unemployment compensation for 10 weeks, and enhances support for farmers and agriculture.

The Omnibus bill completes the federal appropriations process.   Simpson said it includes $306 million to maintain and upgrade INL facilities, including $26 million for the “Sample Preparation Laboratory”, $250 million for the Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program (including $30 million for the National Reactor Innovation Center) and $115 million for the Advanced Small Modular Reactor program.  Another $433.5 million is included for the INL Cleanup Project.

Simpson says the bill includes funding for PILT, potato research, dairy innovation, level funding for the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station, and $3.5 million in Fish and Wildlife Service control for quagga mussels.

Politically, Simpson lists wins like $20 million for border processing coordinators, flexibility to manage security along the southern border (including authority to transfer funds for a border wall), preserves the Hyde Amendment pro-life protection, and continues prohibitions on closing GITMO and transferring detainees. It also continues a general provision prohibiting the listing of sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act.

Senators Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Jim Risch (R-ID) both voted in favor of the bills in the U.S. Senate.

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