(Congressman Mike Simpson Press Release, December 2, 2022)
In Defense of Community Project Funding (CPF)
By: Congressman Mike Simpson
Washington, D.C. – “This week House Republicans defeated a misguided amendment to conference rules that would have prohibited House Republicans from directing federal funding to specific priority projects in their districts. I was pleased to see this amendment go down by such a large majority. The amendment would have done nothing to limit the ability of House Democrats and Senators from asserting their funding priorities for their district and would only have hamstrung House Republicans. It was clearly a political stunt that would have done nothing to reduce government waste and only hurt those in Republican congressional districts.
“The idea of banning earmarks has long made a nice soundbite, but it creates several false narratives that don’t serve the American people. One of these is that member-directed spending is inherently wasteful and bloats the federal government. Make no mistake, the federal government has a spending problem. Throughout my time in Congress I have continually pushed to limit the growth of the federal budget and fought back against Democrats’ efforts to freely increase spending with no consideration for the long-term health of our nation. But congressionally directed spending is not more spending. It is simply a way for Members to prioritize projects in their own districts within existing budget limits. Even within the budget set by Congress each year, these projects are limited to no more than 1 percent of the discretionary budget. If we really want to address fiscal responsibility, we need to focus our efforts on the real problem, not just make meaningless political claims.
“In reality, congressionally directed spending gives Idahoans an important voice in determining where the budgeted funding goes. No bureaucrat in Washington, DC, knows Idaho the way you and I do. I have lived in Idaho’s second district for nearly all my life, and I have spent the past two decades in Congress listening to Idahoans tell me what really matters to them. I have visited communities, farms, and organizations throughout our state to see first hand the needs and the possibilities. And it is one of my most important responsibilities to make sure that vitally important projects in the state of Idaho are given due consideration within the budgeting process. When members don’t have the opportunity to direct funding to worthy projects in their districts, we hand all the decisions about allocating the federal budget over to the executive branch.
“Idaho rarely wins in that situation. During the decade-long congressional moratorium on earmarks, Idaho lost out on millions of dollars in funding that went not to deficit reduction but to federal agencies to distribute in other states. Since 2021, the new Community Project Funding (CPF), which put reforms into place to allow Members to advocate for limited and carefully vetted projects in their districts, has allowed me to make sure Idaho priorities get the funding they need.
“The Gooding Wall is a great example of how CPFs benefit Idaho. This project, needed to repair dilapidated sections of the Gooding Canal that put the community at higher risk of flooding, was authorized with language I included in a 2007 bill. But without the opportunity to request the funding needed to carry out the construction, this flood control project, so critical to an Idaho community, languished on the shelf for decades. Congressional action was needed to finally get it underway, and I was able to use the CPF program to direct funding to get it started again.
“This is just one example of the way Idaho communities continue to benefit from CPFs. In the past year I have championed STAG grants to a community to prevent sewage from backing up into homes, upgrades for an Idaho fire station that didn’t even have running water, and repairs to failing roads. It’s important to note that eliminating any one of these projects I’ve worked to fund would not have reduced federal spending by a single penny. That money would just have gone to another project in a different state or to a federal agency to spend at its discretion. At the end of the day, I will continue to fight for impactful, important Idaho projects over letting those funds go to Nancy Pelosi’s pet projects in California every day of the week. That is exactly what happens when Members fail to advocate for the things that matter in their own districts. As your representative in Congress, I will continue to fight for Idaho’s priorities within a responsible federal budget.”