When I was first elected to Congress, I came to Washington, D.C., ready to serve my neighbors, learn from my peers and accomplish legislative goals that benefit Idaho. This has never changed. What has changed, unfortunately, is the rancorous tone in Washington, D.C., and the ever-widening partisan divide that has, at times, threatened to swallow us whole.
During the last several years, I have watched in dismay as the media has stoked the flames of hatred in exchange for ratings by exploiting the important debates Americans are having around their dining room tables. We are in a historic moment for our country and we should be having these conversations, but we are better than the angry rejection of facts.
Facts matter, and that is why I want to set the record straight.
Marty Trillhaase recently wrote that during my two recent debates, I condemn white supremacy. This is true. It is also true, as he accuses, that I condemn extremism on all sides.
But shouldn’t that be the norm? Is this really where we are as a country, that only one side can be criticized or called out for their most extreme, violent members, and the other gets a free pass? I don’t think so, and to imply it is to discredit the overwhelming majority of Americans who value peace and security. Americans want, more than anything else, to live in neighborhoods where their children can play outside and they don’t have to fear for their lives as they go about their days. Small business owners want to know their shop windows will remain intact overnight, and supermarkets want to stay open to feed their neighbors. So, yes, I condemn any person who expresses him or herself through violence and intimidation, period.
While it often seems that Washington politics have devolved into nothing more than partisan bickering, I want to assure Idahoans that where Democrats in Congress repeatedly throw up roadblocks, Republicans continue to offer common-sense solutions to difficult problems. You won’t often see this on the news, but in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, Republicans came eagerly to the negotiating table to discuss policing reforms, only to be shut out entirely by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. What resulted was a hyper-partisan bill that was dead on arrival in the Senate and will never become law. Even more troubling, Democrats voted to tie up funding for some of the most effective and popular federal community safety programs in this country: “COPS Hiring” grants, which help local law enforcement agencies hire additional career law enforcement officers; law enforcement suicide prevention grants; active shooter training grants; grants for school hardening equipment and Tribal Resources Grant Program funds. Republicans on the Appropriations Committee, including myself, offered two amendments to free up these critical funds for state and local governments, and were unanimously shut down both times on a party line vote.
Another solution that Republicans put forward was Sen. Tim Scott’s legislation on police reform, which I co-sponsored in the House. Sadly, Democrats balked at this offer as well.
I mentioned these vital programs during the debate, not to take away from the gravity of the very real problems we are facing as a nation, such as extremism and the partisan divide, but rather because I believe Idahoans deserve to know what’s really going on in Washington, D.C.
I strongly believe that the American people are tired of the games and being pandered to by the media. They want to know what we’re really doing to make this country better.
For me, that means continuing my work in Congress with members across the political spectrum and standing up for what I know is right. I hope my colleagues, including those in the press, can say the same.
Simpson, R-Idaho, represents Idaho’s 2nd Congressional District in the House of Representatives.