While Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) easily won re-election Tuesday, his ability to influence the money flow to the Energy Department’s Idaho National Laboratory, and federal nuclear cleanup operations as a whole, appears to be on the decline.
Simpson took more than 60 percent of the vote in Idaho’s 2nd Congressional District to decisively defeat Democrat Aaron Swisher. But with the GOP losing the House of Representatives, Simpson in January will cede his chairmanship of the House Appropriations energy and water development subcommittee.
The subcommittee prepares the first version of the appropriations package that funds DOE, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and other agencies. These bills typically do not change drastically as they advance through the House — though that can change when it comes to merging the appropriations legislation from each chamber of Congress.
The subcommittee helped push the DOE Office of Environmental Management to about $7.2 billion and kept INL funding at level at $433 million for the current fiscal year. Simpson plans to remain on the appropriations panel, according to a spokesperson.
The election results also mean Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tenn.) will lose his vice chairmanship on the Appropriations energy and water subcommittee. Fleischmann, who cruised to re-election with 63 percent of the vote, is a vocal advocate for the nuclear cleanup complex — particularly when it comes to the Oak Ridge Site in his 3rd Congressional District.
Another subcommittee member, Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-Wash.), easily retained his seat in Washington’s 4th District by taking 65 percent of the vote in a contest with former television news anchor and Democrat Christine Brown. The district includes the Hanford Site, home to the largest and most expensive cleanup job in the DOE complex.