Despite challenge from right, Simpson remains in GOP’s ‘governing wing’

Idaho Republican Congressman Mike Simpson told a Capitol Hill newspaper last week that the frustration voiced by Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Ky., is widespread among those responsible for writing spending bills to keep the government running.

“He’s frustrated like all members of the Appropriations Committee,” said Simpson, who was characterized as a Rogers ally by Erik Wasson of The Hill. “Why are we making these really tough votes?”

Simpson is one of 12 subcommittee chairs on Appropriations and has been a leader in the “Go Big Coalition” that says erasing U.S. debt requires both spending cuts and tax increases. He’s watched the committee grind through spending bills with tough amendment votes that could well become fodder for attack ads in next year’s GOP primaries.

Last month, Rogers criticized GOP leaders for pulling the 2014 spending bill for transportation, housing and urban development. Leadership said the vote was postponed because of scheduling; Rogers said the party didn’t have the votes to pass the bill, which would have cut spending below the 2006 levels.

Rogers, recognizing that Democrats control the Senate and the White House, says a deal must be made to replace the across-the-board cuts under the sequester.

But “deal” has become a dirty word for the GOP’s tea party wing, including Simpson challenger Bryan Smith, an Idaho Falls lawyer. Simpson’s lone Idaho colleague, Republican Rep. Raul Labrador, has called Simpson “an old-school legislator that went to Washington, D.C., to compromise.”

Labrador says he’s not making an endorsement in the Smith-Simpson race.

But Simpson’s defense of Rogers suggests he’s not shying from a record that includes compromise.



Dan Popkey came to Idaho in 1984 to work as a police reporter. Since 1987, he has covered politics and has reported on 25 sessions of the Legislature. Dan has a bachelor's in political science from Santa Clara University and a master's in journalism from Columbia University. He was a Congressional Fellow of the American Political Science Association and a Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. A former page in the U.S. House of Representatives, he graduated Capitol Page High School in 1976. In 2007, he led the Statesman’s coverage of the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news. In 2003, he won the Ted M. Natt First Amendment award from the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association for coverage of University Place, the University of Idaho’s troubled real estate development in Boise. Dan helped start the community reading project "Big Read." He has two children in college and lives on the Boise Bench with an old gray cat.

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