How Idaho lawmakers voted on transportation/student loan deal

UPDATED, 12:22 p.m., with statement from Simpson.

Congress approved a last-minute compromise to fund more than $100 billion in highway, transportation and mass transit projects — and keep interest rates on subsidized federal student loans at 3.4 percent for one more year.

But while the catchall bill enjoyed broad bipartisan backing last week — passing the House 373-52 and the Senate 74-19 — it received scant support from Idaho's Republican delegation. Only Rep. Mike Simpson voted yes; Rep. Raul Labrador and Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch voted no.

I have a request for comment from Labrador, but here's what I have from the rest of the delegation.

Here is a statement from Crapo explaining his no vote.

I am grateful to my colleagues for working with me to include provisions in this legislation which are very important to the state of Idaho, including an extension of the Secure Rural Schools program, which I've long championed as a necessary supplement to those rural counties which are not able to generate sufficient property tax revenue to fund schools and other vital services because so much of the land in the county is owned by the federal government.

Nevertheless, I voted against H.R. 4348 because, as a whole, it violated the budget levels agreed to by Congress last year during the debt limit negotiations. Our country is facing an unprecedented fiscal crisis that requires serious reforms that carry enforcement and weight beyond this Congress and into the future. Throughout my tenure in Congress, I have continually sought to support legislation that would bring federal spending in line. Americans are fed up with out-of-control and unsustainable spending coming from the federal government, a frustration I share. But no matter what the issue, Congress inevitably finds loopholes to avoid spending controls set by Congress to restore the federal budget to balance.

While this bill raises additional revenue from outside the traditional highway funding system, it does not contain the necessary reforms to that system to ensure its sustainability over the long term. Using short-term patches only punts the greater issue at hand. In this time of massive deficits, funding for critical transportation programs must be based on a sustainable fiscal plan and can no longer rely on borrowing funds to prop up shortfalls.

Here is a statement from Risch:

Once again, Congress is not even taking small steps to bring spending under control. Congress continues to borrow over 40 cents out of every dollar it spends. I cannot, in good conscience, vote to pass current expenditures on to our children and grandchildren. This bill even reaches outside of traditional transportation funding sources to grab more revenue. Even claimed reforms are mostly smoke and mirrors and will do little, if anything, when major reforms are needed. Most everyone acknowledges the coming fiscal cliff, but nothing is being done about it.

Here's a statement from Simpson, explaining his support for the bill:

The Transportation Reauthorization bill is vitally important to many sectors of Idaho's economy and had the strong support of the overwhelming majority of Congress, including many conservatives. In addition to including provisions to streamline major road and bridge projects, the bill contained renewed funding for the Secure Rural Schools and PILT programs which are so important to most Idaho counties and rural citizens. The bill is by no means perfect, but the reforms it contains and its vital importance to Idaho were crucial in my decision to support its passage.

Meanwhile, Labrador's Democratic challenger, Jimmy Farris, blasted his opponent's vote. Here's his news release:

On Friday, Idaho 1st Congressional District candidate Jimmy Farris blasted Congressman Raul Labrador for voting against a bill which will preserve 2.8 million American jobs and keep interest rates on student loans from doubling.

The bill, which the House passed by a vote of 373-52, funds transportation infrastructure and freezes student loan interest at its current rate of 3.4 percent.

“If Congressman Labrador had gotten his way, millions of Americans would have lost their jobs,” said Farris. “College students would be drowning in even deeper debt, and higher education would be further out of reach for those aspiring to go to school. Labrador voted against millions of people trying to support their families and better their lives.”

“Labrador obviously does not have the interests of the middle class in mind,” Farris continued. “I am committed to helping working class families, not pulling the rug out from under them.”

Get Twitter updates on my blog and column and Statesman editorials. Become a follower. You can also get updates on Facebook's Idaho Statesman Opinion Page.

More wayward and misguided voting brought to you by

the makers of Labradoodle. Fortunately we have some areas of the country where the majority of the voting populace are not cognitively impaired. Idaho on the other hand, not so much.

Their arguments about long-term solutions would hold more

water if they offered any themselves.

"No his mind is not for rent, to any god or government." Neil Peart

Many new ideas to explore.

"How to Replace Obamacare", James Capretta and Robert Moffit, National Affairs.

Rust Belt Repub Gov's from Jersey to Wisco, getting our broke purple states back in the black after a sour Dem hand off. This is the best political bull pen in the country.

Paul Ryan budget proposal, offered out in near political suicide fashion. Don't agree? But you gotta admit the boys got stones.

Wonderful, Simson-Bowles, ideas offered, met by White House stone wall and no debate.

Ideas, some good some not good, but they are offered by a party with really no adjenda power. The problem is we have a weak leader in the White House and he has no power pursuade his own party, and no ability to cross the isle.

Will Crapo vote against any DoD bills that violate the agreement

or is subsidizing oil companies interests in the ME too important.

"No his mind is not for rent, to any god or government." Neil Peart

Surprise! Surprise!

Surprise! Surprise! Surrrrprise!! Can't Y'all just hear Gomer Pile in that when you read the article? The I got mine crowd voted against the bill that will help students and many other programs here in Idaho with BIPARTISAN support gets shot down by our Teaparty Darlings. Mr. Labrador got his education by way of Church subsidy... I'm thinking of asking for my donations back for his education because my opinion is he failed his ethics cla-sses(I love the filter). And not many people make it through law school without student loans, so I hope he sleeps well at night after trying to raise the interest rate on others after he had his. Sometimes, Senator Crapo, a few short term patchs will get you home on that bike to get a new tire. Once again Thanks Guys for Stickin it to us!

Defense Spending

I agree with the Congressmen to a certain extent. However, I would fund the student interest deduction and infrastructure bill by cutting some of the over $ 600 BILLION in defense spending and foreign aid. Here are some ideas: reduce foreign aid, stop building the infrastructure of countries like Afghanistan and Iraq and start improving our own infrastructure, eliminate some of the dozens of overseas bases in England, Germany, etc, consider eliminating one aircraft carrier fleet from the twelve we already have now--why do we need so many aircraft carriers anyway with all these bases all over the world (note: no other country has more than one aircraft carrier.