First District Rep. Raul Labrador is among 15 members of the 435-member U.S. House with a perfect record on 25 scored votes in 2013, earning the American Conservative Union’s “Defenders of Liberty” award.
But 2nd District Rep. Mike Simpson voted against ACU’s advice on 13 of the 25 key votes, earning a 46 percent score. The year was an anomaly for Simpson, who has an 82 percent lifetime rating after 15 years in Congress.
The split between the Idaho lawmakers reflects 2013′s tension between mainstream Republicans like Simpson who are loyal to House Speaker John Boehner and tea party insurgents like Labrador who call for sweeping changes, largely on spending.
On 11 of the 13 votes against ACU, Simpson’s voted with the House majority, including amendments to trim federal agricultural spending, subsidized rural air service and on a December budget deal that helped head off another government shutdown.
Simpson also defied ACU in voting to extend the Violence Against Women Act, which was co-sponsored by Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho.
Crapo’s vote helped drop his ACU score to 88 percent in 2013 and put his lifetime score at 92 percent. Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, scored 92 percent in 2013 and has a 96 percent rating after five years in the Senate.
Founded in 1964, the ACU is the country’s largest conservative activist group and its congressional voting ratings — issued since 1971 — are widely seen as a leading measure of conservative orthodoxy.
Here’s a summary of the 13 votes where Simpson differed from ACU:
Jan. 15, H.R. 152 Disaster Relief. Simpson was among the 258-162 majority that defeated the Mulvaney Amendment that would have required $17 billion in spending cuts to pay for Superstorm Sandy relief.
Feb. 28, S. 47 Violence Against Women Act. Simpson was in the 286-138 majority that passed the bill, which expanded protections for gays and lesbians, Native Americans and illegal immigrants. Now law, the bill authorizes $659 million a year over five years for programs that strengthen the criminal justice system’s response to crimes against women and some men, such as transitional housing, legal assistance, law enforcement training and hotlines.
March 20, H. Con. Res. 25, Woodall Amendment on budget. Simpson was in the 132-104 majority that defeated a conservative alternative budget aimed at balancing the budget in four years; 171 Democrats voted “present,” which ACU counted as a “no” vote.
June 13, H.R. 1960 Rigell Amendment. Simpson was in the 248-178 majority that defeated the amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would have repealed the ban on private-sector competition for some Defense Department programs.
June 19, H.R. 1947 Foxx Amendment to the Farm Bill. Simpson was in the minority on a 267-156 vote to cap spending on the Farm Risk Management Election Program at 110 percent of Congressional Budget Office estimates. ACU says farm programs cost 51 percent more than predicted since the last farm bill in 2008.
June 19, H.R. 1947 Chabot Amendment to the Farm Bill. Simpson was in the 322-98 majority that defeated the amendment that would have ended a foreign marketing program for U.S. agricultural goods, the Market Access Program.
June 20, H.R. 1947 Walorski Amendment to the Farm Bill. Simpson was in the 227-197 majority that defeated the amendment that would have ended a mandatory fee paid by Christmas tree growers for marketing. The program is similar to those imposed on other agricultural producers, including cattlemen.
June 20, H.R. 1947 Huelskamp Amendment to the Farm Bill. Simpson was in the 250-175 majority that defeated the amendment that would have tightened food stamp eligibility requirements and removed provisions that allow recipients to get food stamps by qualifying for another welfare program.
June 20, H.R. 1947 Farm Bill. Simpson was in the minority of a 234-195 vote to defeat the Farm Bill, a blow to Speaker Boehner. A revised Farm Bill became law last month, authoring $956 billion in spending over 10 years.
July 10, H.R. 2609 Chabot Amendment to Energy and Water Appropriations bill. Simpson, who chairs the Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, was in the 273-147 majority that defeated the attempt to amend his committee’s bill. The amendment would have eliminated the Appalachian Regional Commission and other regional economic development agencies that ACU says “serve no useful purpose.”
July 23, H.R. 2397 Denham Amendment to the Defense Appropriations bill. Simpson was part of the 238-185 vote to defeat the amendment that would have eliminated funding for a U.S. government news website aimed at foreign audiences.
July 30, H.R. 2610 Grayson Amendment to Transportation and House Appropriations bill. Simpson was in the 224-191 majority that defeated the amendment to cut by half a $200 million subsidy for rural airports with light traffic.
Dec. 12, H.J. Res. 59 omnibus budget bill. Simpson was in the 332-94 majority that eliminated spending cuts in the sequester agreement, doubled airline taxes and uses what ACU calls “budget gimmicks to claim savings in future years for spending increases now.” The vote helped clear the way for a budget deal without again shuttering the federal government.