Session highlights span array of issues

Mike Kingsley

JEERS ... — in advance — to U.S. Sens. Jim Risch and Mike Crapo, R-Idaho.

By now, this pair probably voted to seal off President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial — and the American public — from hearing witnesses.


What makes you think they’ll do the right thing?

Not the mounting evidence pointing to the president’s guilt in leveraging military aid in exchange for getting Ukraine’s president to sabotage former Vice President Joe Biden’s candidacy:

l The Government Accountability Office says Trump broke the law.

l A newly released tape has the president calling for the ouster of former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch.

l John Bolton, Trump’s former national security adviser, writes in his upcoming book he witnessed the presidential shakedown.

l John Kelly, Trump’s former chief of staff, says he believes Bolton.

Not public opinion. The latest Quinnipiac University poll says 75 percent of registered voters support bringing in witnesses.

Not even their own legacies.

Risch further embellished his reputation as a Trump toady impervious to the facts by sleeping through about 15 minutes of last week’s presentation by House managers.

Alone among the entire Senate, only Crapo voted at every opportunity — four times as a House member, twice as a senator — to impeach and remove President Bill Clinton. At some point, he will have to explain why Clinton’s offenses were so much worse than Trump’s.

Come on.

All they’ve done is go right down the line for Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. Consider the tone of the questions they’ve submitted to House impeachment managers and Trump’s legal team:

l “Are there legitimate circumstances under which a president could request a foreign country to investigate a U.S. citizen including a political rival who is not under investigation by the U.S. government?”

l “Does the evidence in the record show that an investigation in the Burisma/Biden matter is in the national interests of the U.S. and its efforts to stop corruption?”

l “Can the Senate convict the sitting U.S. president of obstruction of Congress for exercising the president’s constitutional authorities or rights?”

Vote for witnesses, Sens. Risch and Crapo.

Prove us wrong. You’d look good and we wouldn’t.

JEERS ... — again — to Crapo and Risch — as well as former Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, Congressman Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, and Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash.

Remember all their dread about the looming national debt?

Risch got so worked up at times that he could send his audience into fits of panic: “This can’t go on.”

Crapo ran his entire 2016 reelection campaign on it: “I am leading the fight to reduce the national debt and balance our budget, but there are many in Washington who oppose me and wish I would quit.”

Labrador’s four-term career was premised on voting against “anything that increases the national debt.”

McMorris Rodgers called the debt “a threat to the future of our children and grandchildren.”

So where were they this week when the Congressional Budget Office reported trillion-dollar deficits have become the new normal?

What was their reaction to the CBO’s announcement that by the end of the decade, the national debt will reach 98 percent of the gross domestic product — the highest level since World War II?

President Barack Obama was no deficit hawk, but by the time he left office, deficits were running about $585 billion.

Under Trump, the Republican 2017 tax cut added another $270 billion to the yearly deficit. Risch, Crapo, Labrador, Simpson and McMorris Rodgers voted in lockstep for it.

Some, but not all, also supported a pair of spending and tax bills in 2018 and 2019 that added another $180 billion to the deficit.

In other words, they chose to double this existential threat to the well-being of your children’s future.

No wonder they’re silent.

CHEERS ... to Idaho Gov. Brad Little. For virtually two decades, his Republican predecessors, including Dirk Kempthorne and C.L. “Butch” Otter, refused to place Democrats on the Idaho Fish and Game Commission. They appointed “independents” or “unaffiliated” members to get around a cap on GOP appointees.

But when the same thing happened under Little, attitudes changed. Democratic Senate Leader Michelle Stennett of Ketchum noted Lewiston’s Brad Melton had been a registered Republican until he switched to unaffiliated status when the governor appointed him to the Fish and Game Commission last fall.

“There isn’t a single Democrat on the Fish and Game Commission,” Stennett told Betsy Russell of the Idaho Press. “I did tell them, ‘Try to at least follow the statute.’ ”

Little agreed. Melton resigned and the governor is looking for a replacement “in accordance with the spirit of the law.”

JEERS ... to north central Idaho’s House delegation.

Reps. Priscilla Giddings, R-White Bird, Mike Kingsley, R-Lewiston, Paul Shepherd, R-Riggins, Thyra Stevenson, R-Nezperce, and Caroline Nilsson Troy, R-Genesee, joined a lopsided 44-23 vote against making modest improvements in the regulations that assure a minimal amount of safety in Idaho’s day care operations.

Rep. Bill Goesling, R-Moscow, voted yes.

This bill did not even get at the core problem with Idaho’s day care licensing system — tolerating too many young children being supervised by too few adults. But it provided for better staff training, more stringent criminal background checks, safer transportation standards and a modicum of emergency planning.

Killing this measure could cost Idaho $$960,000 in federal money this year and $1.6 million next. The money subsidizes child care for some of Idaho’s low-income parents who work outside the home. But why let a minor concern such as child well-being get in the way of cutting regulations? — M.T.

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