Michael Keith "Mike" Simpson, D.M.D. (born September 8, 1950), is the member of the U.S. House of Representatives representing Idaho's 2nd congressional district, serving since 1999. He is a member of the Republican Party. He previously served in the Idaho House of Representatives.
Early life, education and career
Simpson is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He was educated at Utah State University in Logan, Utah, and the Washington University School of Dental Medicine in St.
Louis, Missouri. Simpson practiced dentistry in Blackfoot, Idaho, before entering the U.S. House. While other members of Congress who come from a medical background prefer to be referred to as "Doctor" while serving in Congress (most notably former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist), Simpson does not insist that he be referred to as Dr. Simpson, preferring to simply go by Congressman or Mr. Simpson.
Simpson was elected to the Blackfoot City Council in 1980. In 1984 he was elected to the first of seven terms in the Idaho State House of Representatives. Simpson served as Speaker of the Idaho State House of Representatives from 1993 until his election to the U.S. Congress.
U.S. House of Representatives
In the 111th Congress Simpson became the Ranking Member on the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee.
With this position he is now considered a "Cardinal" (a term applied to the chairmen or ranking members of the Appropriations Subcommittees) within the House Republican Caucus. He also serves as the small state representative on the 33-member House Republican Steering Committee. Known as the "committee of committees", the Steering Committee decides which Republican lawmakers become ranking members on House committees. Simpson replaced Congressman Don Young (R-AK) on the committee.
Simpson is a conservative member of the Republican Party. His voting record indicates strong support for pro-life initiatives and an aversion to gun control (Simpson was one of the Members of Congress to sign the D.C.
v. Heller amicus brief which supported a recognition of the Second Amendment as an individual right). Simpson also supports an agenda of low taxes and pro-business policies. However, he is known to be pragmatic on many issues. For example, he was one of a handful of Republicans to vote in favor of the reauthorization of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) in the 110th Congress. Simpson has also been a supporter of the National Endowment of the Arts and the National Endowment of the Humanities, voting each year against Republican amendments to strip them of funding. Furthermore, he has been vocal in his opposition to many House Republicans' position on "earmarks", or congressionally directed spending. While this position has put him at odds with certain factions within the Republican Party, Simpson maintains that it is unwise for the Legislative Branch to relinquish its constitutional control of the budget to the President and the federal bureaucracy.
Esquire magazine listed Simpson as one of the 10 Best Members of Congress in October 2008. The magazine said of Simpson, "More than any other representative, Simpson lives by the philosophy that democratic representation is a matter of finding not advantageous positions but common ground..." The magazine's portrayal of Simpson echoes one of his personal philosophies, which is embodied in a quote by Henry Clay: "Politics is not about ideological purity or moral self-righteousness. It is about governing, and if a politician cannot compromise he cannot govern effectively." This quote is framed and hangs in Simpson's Washington D.C. office.
Simpson's hallmark legislation in the House of Representatives has been the Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act (CIEDRA) and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judgeship and Reorganization Act. Simpson has been credited as having a key role in the election of John Boehner (R-OH) to the position of House Majority Leader in the 109th United States Congress.
While the Republican Party held the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, Simpson often served as the Speaker Pro Tempore of the House, particularly during debates concerning controversial legislation, due to his command of House procedure. Simpson is known to have broken several sounding boards with the gavel while calling the House to order. This inspired Simpson to have a number of sounding boards produced in Idaho, which he presented to then Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL) as a joke.
During the 2007 scandal involving Senator Larry Craig (R-ID), Simpson was openly considered for an appointment to the U.S. Senate in the event that Senator Craig resigned. Simpson however, asked Governor C.L. "Butch Otter" to remove his name from consideration, claiming that the Idaho Congressional Delegation would be in a better position if he were to remain in the House and retain his seniority on the House Appropriations Committee.
Simpson rankled Senate leadership during the Craig scandal by criticizing them for their treatment of the Senator. Simpson is quoted as saying, "If that’s how they treat their own, that tells me they’re more interested in party than individuals, and the party is made up of individuals. How you treat them says a lot about your party." Simpson is not known to have condoned the alleged misconduct of Craig, but rather demanded that he be treated fairly. For example, he is quoted as saying, "They have people over there [in the Senate Republican Conference] in far worse trouble that they haven’t said a thing about."
Simpson has become increasing opposed to President Obama and the Congressional Democrats' policy agenda. Simpson has recently announced his commitment to repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, questioning its constitutionality and effectiveness.
Following the death of Congressman Charlie Norwood (R-GA), a fellow dentist, Simpson has become a leading advocate of the American Dental Association ("ADA") in Congress. This advocacy has inspired Simpson to introduce legislation regarding methamphetamine, specifically "methmouth". Simpson is also known as an outspoken proponent of nuclear power, extolling its virtues as an environmentally friendly source of energy with minimal carbon output. Simpson's support for this form of energy plays a significant role in his membership of the Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, which oversees the Idaho National Laboratory, a main site for nuclear and alternative energy research in the United States. Simpson is a strong supporter of the domestic sugar beet producers, and the Idaho potato growers. In 2010, Simpson took up the cause, alongside his former Democratic colleague, Walt Minnick, the lead sponsor of the bill, to secure a third federal judge for Idaho. Simpson was quoted as saying, "The caseload of the Idaho District Court has increased significantly in recent decades resulting in Idaho’s district judges carrying a disproportionate share of cases in relation to their colleagues in other states.
Simpson entered the 1998 campaign for the U.S. House seat vacated by Mike Crapo, who was running for United States Senate. He defeated former Democratic Congressman Richard H. Stallings in the general election. Simpson did not face serious opposition in 2002 and 2004. In 2006 Simpson defeated former Democratic state representative Jim D. Hansen, son of former Republican Congressman Orval H. Hansen, to win reelection.
Simpson was reelected to a sixth term in 2008, defeating Democrat Debbie Holmes. The final result was 204,465 for Simpson and 83,340 for Holmes, giving Simpson 71% of the vote. Esquire magazine endorsed Simpson for Idaho's Second Congressional District in the 2008 elections, but endorsed Democrat Walt Minnick for Idaho's First Congressional District.
During the 2008 Presidential primaries, Simpson was an early supporter of former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and a member of his Congressional Whip Team.
Simpson was challenged by Democratic nominee Mike Crawford and Independent candidate Brian Schad.
In the Republican primary, Simpson defeated Chick Heileson of Iona and Russ Mathews of Idaho Falls. Each touted himself as a more conservative alternative. Simpson won re-election.
October 24th, 2011