After Secure Rural Schools Vote Divides Idaho Republicans, Labrador Takes Shot At Simpson

Apr 1, 2015

Congressman Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, is lashing out at fellow Congressman Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, over what Labrador perceives as criticism from Simpson.

Last Thursday, Labrador voted against legislation that would send millions of federal dollars to rural Idaho schools and counties. He says he did so because the Secure Rural Schools reauthorization legislation was attached to a larger, unrelated Medicare reimbursement bill Labrador viewed as too expensive. 

Simpson voted for the bill, which passed the House by a 392-37 margin. After his vote, Simpson said one would “have to look long and hard to find a reason to vote no.”

In a KBSX interview taped Tuesday, Labrador said he thinks it “absolutely” was a dig aimed at him. Labrador then fired back.

“Mike Simpson has been part of the establishment in Washington D.C. for 12 years,” Labrador said. “He loves to go out drinking and smoking with the Speaker [John Boehner]. He loves to have these relationships where it’s all about making false promises to his constituents and then going back there to Washington D.C. to compromise.”

Simpson has served in Washington for 16 years. Labrador is beginning his fifth. Simpson is considered part of the more moderate wing of the GOP, while Labrador is a tea party favorite. The two haven’t been allies, despite making up half of Idaho’s tiny Congressional delegation.

“We’re different kinds of politicians.  I will not lie to my constituents. I won’t say something in my campaign that is totally different than what I do during my time as a member of Congress," Labrador said. "People of his district obviously like him and they keep re-electing him, but he’s got to answer to his constituents when he takes votes like this.” 

Simpson’s communications director, Nikki Wallace, said Simpson was out of the country and not available for comment. 

“This isn't the first time Congressman Labrador has uttered this nonsense and I'm sure it won't be the last,” Wallace said in a statement. “The fact is that Congressman Labrador voted against Idaho counties while Mike Simpson stood with them. Congressman Labrador knows this and he should stick to the issues instead of the undignified personal attacks.”

Labrador defended his vote by saying the so-called “doc fix” Medicare bill would have added more than $140 billion to the national debt. Besides, he says, there’s too much support in Congress for members not to approve the Secure Rural Schools reauthorization.

“Because if it wouldn’t have passed, it would have passed [later] as a standalone bill,” he says. “There was never any danger of this legislation not passing.”

Labrador was also upset with Idaho Statesman reporter Rocky Barker. Barker wrote about Labrador's vote - coverage the Congressman called "reprehensible."

Barker says Labrador's chief of staff, Doug Taylor, contacted the reporter to protest the headline the newspaper used with the story. Barker says the Statesman did not change its article.

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