simpson 2019 (copy)

U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, speaks at House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on Capitol Hill on March 26, 2019. 

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U.S. House Democrats’ highway funding bill is poised to include roughly three out of five transportation projects submitted by members, as legislators vie for their share of federal dollars through the resurrected congressional earmarks process, the Idaho Capital Sun reports today. The 1,473 projects that made the cut were out of 2,383 that Democratic and Republican legislators requested for inclusion in a federal infrastructure bill, at a time when infrastructure is the subject of prolonged, high-profile negotiations between the White House and Republicans in Congress.

The earmarks list — detailed in an amendment to five-year, $547 billion surface transportation reauthorization bill that the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee will take up on Wednesday — has a price tag of $5.7 billion. That’s about 40% of the nearly $14.9 billion that was requested for member-designated projects.

Of the six projects submitted for consideration by Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, four in Idaho’s Second Congressional District made the cut. Rep. Russ Fulcher, R-Idaho, did not submit proposals for Idaho’s First Congressional District during the process.

In a news release on Tuesday, Simpson said, “It is important to note that eliminating any one of those projects would not have reduced federal spending by one penny – the money would have instead gone to another project in a different state or to a federal bureaucracy to be spent at its discretion. In the end, I can either seek these projects for Idaho or allow the funding to go to another state. I would rather see that funding end up in Idaho to improve our communities.”

Betsy Z. Russell is the Boise bureau chief and state capitol reporter for the Idaho Press and Adams Publishing Group. Follow her on Twitter at @BetsyZRussell.

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