|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from Idaho's 2nd district
January 3, 1999
|38th Speaker of the Idaho House of Representatives|
|Member of the Idaho House of Representatives|
from the 31st district
December 1, 1992 - December 1, 1998
|Member of the Idaho House of Representatives|
from the 26th Seat B district
December 1, 1984 - December 1, 1992
|Lenore Hardy Barrett|
Michael Keith Simpson
September 8, 1950
Burley, Idaho, U.S.
|Education||Utah State University (BS)|
Washington University (DMD)
Michael Keith Simpson (born September 8, 1950) is an American politician serving as the U.S. Representative for Idaho's 2nd congressional district since 1999. A member of the Republican Party, he was first elected in the 1998 elections, succeeding Mike Crapo. Simpson previously served as an Idaho State Representative (1984-1998) and was Speaker of the Idaho House of Representatives from 1992 to 1998.
Born in Burley, Simpson was raised in Blackfoot, where his father was a dentist. He graduated from Blackfoot High School in 1968, Utah State University in Logan in 1972, and the Washington University School of Dental Medicine in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1977. Simpson practiced dentistry in Blackfoot until his election to Congress in 1998. He was elected to the Blackfoot City Council in 1980 and was elected to the state legislature in 1984, the first of seven terms. He was the Speaker of the Idaho House prior to his election to Congress.
While some members of Congress with a medical background prefer to be addressed as "Doctor" (most notably former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist), Simpson does not insist that he be referred to as Dr. Simpson, preferring to simply go by Congressman or Mr. Simpson.
While the Republican Party held the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, Simpson often served as the Speaker Pro Tempore of the House, particularly during debates concerning controversial legislation, due to his command of House procedure. Simpson is known to have broken several sounding boards with the gavel while calling the House to order. This inspired Simpson to have a number of sounding boards produced in Idaho, which he presented to then Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL) as a joke. When the Republican Party regained control of the House of Representatives in 2010, Mr. Simpson began once again to serve frequently as the Speaker Pro Tempore of the House.
In December 2020, Simpson signed an amicus brief in support of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton's lawsuit seeking to overturn the legal, verified results of the 2020 presidential election. 
Simpson was an original co-sponsor of the Newborn Screening Saves Lives Reauthorization Act of 2013 (H.R. 1281; 113th Congress), a bill that would amend the Public Health Service Act to reauthorize grant programs and other initiatives to promote expanded screening of newborns and children for heritable disorders. Simpson said that "the bill reflects the realities of reduced budgets Washington, but continues and strengthens the well established system of monitoring and evaluating infant conditions soon after birth. Just one small blood sample from the newborn's foot identifies infants with genetic or other conditions that can be treated quickly and effectively, saving and improving thousands of lives."
On June 20, 2014, Simpson introduced the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2015 (H.R. 4923; 113th Congress), a bill that would make appropriations for energy and water development and related agencies for FY2015. The bill would appropriate $34 billion, which is only $50 million less than these agencies currently receive. The appropriations for the United States Department of Energy and the United States Army Corps of Engineers are made by this bill.
He voted for and helped to pass the "National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011". Under this new law, which passed through the House of Representatives on November 16, 2011, people with a valid license are allowed to carry a concealed weapon in other states, as long as those states allow concealed weapons and don't have specific rules about concealed weapons carried by nonresidents.
Simpson's hallmark legislation in the House of Representatives has been the Central Idaho Economic Development and Recreation Act (CIEDRA), which would create 312,000 acres of wilderness in central Idaho, much of which is currently a wilderness study area. Simpson has faced substantial resistance from groups like the Sierra Club who claim the bill lacks "wilderness values" because the bill allows for motorized access to certain portions of the wilderness area and some federal land would be transferred to the State of Idaho to promote the economic development of the local community and the recreational use of National Forest land and other public lands in central Idaho. Simpson has also faced opposition from groups who oppose new federal land designations, and wilderness designations particularly because of restricted access to wilderness areas. In August 2015 a revised version of CIEDRA, the Sawtooth National Recreation Area and Jerry Peak Wilderness Additions Act, passed Congress and was signed by President Obama, creating the Hemingway-Boulders, Jim McClure-Jerry Peak, and White Clouds wilderness areas, which cover a total of 275,665 acres (111,558 ha) of central Idaho.
On March 21, 2014, Simpson introduced the bill To amend the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act to authorize the Secretary of the Interior to maintain or replace certain facilities and structures for commercial recreation services at Smith Gulch in Idaho (H.R. 4283; 113th Congress). The bill would require the United States Secretary of Agriculture to permit private entities to repair or replace certain commercial facilities on United States Forest Service land in Idaho. Simpson said that "this legislation clarifies Congress' intent of the 2004 amendments to the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act which continued the existing use and occupancy of commercial services in this corridor of the Salmon River".
Simpson played a crucial role with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judgeship and Reorganization Act. Mike Simpson's goal is to amend title 28, and create the appointment of additional Federal Circuit Judges, to divide the Ninth Judicial Circuit into two smaller judicial circuits. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Judgeship and Reorganization Act was introduced to House Judiciary Committee, and more specifically to the subcommittee on Courts and Competition Policy. Since Jan 24, 2011, the bill has been in the subcommittee, where it will be refined before being presented to the Judiciary Committee, then later the actual House of Representatives.
Following the death of Congressman Charlie Norwood (R-GA) in February, 2007, Simpson has become a leading advocate of the American Dental Association (ADA) in Congress, in part because his profession is dentistry. The advocacy inspired Simpson to introduce legislation regarding methamphetamine, specifically how the drug affects tooth decay or "methmouth". The bill is formally called H.R. 1671: Meth Mouth Prevention and Community Recovery Act, with the purpose to understand and address the oral health problems associated with methamphetamine. The bill's goals are to expand and intensify the Department of Health and Human Services, make grants available to educate 12- to 17-year-olds about methmouth, and to promote a series of education activities for all dentists to learn about substance use disorders and their relationship to oral health and the provision of dental care. As of March 24, 2009, the bill was put from the House Committee on Energy and Commerce to the Subcommittee on Health where it has been debated, but never brought to a conclusion. As soon as that happens, it will be brought up before the whole committee, then later the House of Representatives.
Simpson voted in favor of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. After passing the bill, Simpson said he spoke to Idaho farmers, ranchers and businesses who called for a simplified tax code and reform. He says the bill will "create economic growth in the United States by unleashing American small businesses and unburdening middle class families so they can make better financial decisions with their own money."
In December 2020, Simpson was one of 126 Republican members of the House of Representatives who signed an amicus brief in support of Texas v. Pennsylvania, a lawsuit filed at the United States Supreme Court contesting the results of the 2020 presidential election, in which Joe Biden prevailed over incumbent Donald Trump. The Supreme Court declined to hear the case on the basis that Texas lacked standing under Article III of the Constitution to challenge the results of the election held by another state.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi issued a statement that called signing the amicus brief an act of "election subversion." Additionally, Pelosi reprimanded Simpson and the other House members who supported the lawsuit: "The 126 Republican Members that signed onto this lawsuit brought dishonor to the House. Instead of upholding their oath to support and defend the Constitution, they chose to subvert the Constitution and undermine public trust in our sacred democratic institutions." New Jersey Representative Bill Pascrell, citing section three of the 14th Amendment, called for Pelosi to not seat Simpson and the other Republicans who signed the brief supporting the suit. Pascrell argued that "the text of the 14th Amendment expressly forbids Members of Congress from engaging in rebellion against the United States. Trying to overturn a democratic election and install a dictator seems like a pretty clear example of that."
In the 111th United States Congress Simpson became the Ranking Member on the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee. Upon assuming this position, and the subsequent chairmanship of the subcommittee, he is considered a "Cardinal" (a term applied to the chairmen or ranking members of the Appropriations Subcommittees) within the House Republican Caucus. He also serves as the small state representative on the 33-member House Republican Steering Committee. Known as the "committee of committees", the Steering Committee decides which Republican lawmakers become ranking members on House committees. Simpson replaced Congressman Don Young (R-AK) on the committee.
Simpson is a member of the Republican Party. However, he is known to be pragmatic on certain issues. For example, he was one of a handful of Republicans to vote in favor of the reauthorization of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) in the 110th Congress. He has also been a supporter of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, voting each year against Republican amendments to strip them of funding. In the past, he has opposed "earmarks", or congressionally directed spending.
Esquire listed Simpson as one of the 10 Best Members of Congress in October 2008. The magazine said of Simpson, "More than any other representative, Simpson lives by the philosophy that democratic representation is a matter of finding not advantageous positions but common ground..." The magazine's portrayal of Simpson echoes one of his personal philosophies, which is embodied in a quote by Henry Clay: "Politics is not about ideological purity or moral self-righteousness. It is about governing, and if a politician cannot compromise he cannot govern effectively." This quote is framed and hangs in Simpson's Washington D.C. office. Simpson played a key role in the election of John Boehner (R-OH) to the position of House Majority Leader in the 109th United States Congress.
Simpson is a strong supporter of the domestic sugar beet producers, and the Idaho potato growers. In 2010, Simpson took up the cause, alongside his former Democratic colleague, Walt Minnick, the lead sponsor of the bill, to secure a third federal judge for Idaho. Simpson was quoted as saying, "The caseload of the Idaho District Court has increased significantly in recent decades resulting in Idaho's district judges carrying a disproportionate share of cases in relation to their colleagues in other states."
Simpson has is committed to repealing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, questioning its constitutionality and effectiveness. He is close to and loyal to Speaker John Boehner.
Simpson supports an agenda of low taxes and pro-business policies.
Simpson supports tax reform. When asked about the Grover Norquist pledge to oppose any net increase in taxes, Simpson said, "Well, first the pledge: I signed that in 1998 when I first ran. I didn't know I was signing a marriage agreement that would last forever."
In a 2019 conference in Boise, Simpson stated that "climate change is a reality. It's not hard to figure out. Go look at your thermometer." In his speech, he tied climate change to the viability of salmon in Idaho lakes and rivers.
Simpson is also known as an outspoken proponent of nuclear power, extolling its virtues as an environmentally friendly source of energy with minimal carbon output. Simpson's support for this form of energy plays a significant role in his membership of the United States House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, which oversees the Idaho National Laboratory, a main site for nuclear and alternative energy research in the United States.
Simpson is anti-abortion. He has a zero rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America and a 100% rating from the National Right to Life Committee for his voting record regarding abortion. He opposes using federal monies to fund abortions, embryonic stem cell research, restricting the transport of minors over state lines to receive abortions, partial-birth abortions except to save a mother's life and human cloning. He supports cutting federal funding from Planned Parenthood.
Simpson has a "D" rating from NORML for his voting history regarding cannabis-related causes. Simpson is opposed to veterans having access to medical marijuana if recommended by their Veterans Health Administration doctor and if it is legal for medicinal purposes in their state of residence.
Simpson entered the 1998 campaign for the U.S. House seat vacated by Mike Crapo, who was running for United States Senate. He defeated former Democratic Congressman Richard H. Stallings in the general election. Simpson did not face serious opposition in 2002 and 2004. In 2006 Simpson defeated former Democratic state representative Jim D. Hansen, son of former Republican Congressman Orval H. Hansen, to win reelection.
Simpson defeated two primary challengers winning with 85.2% of the vote.
In the Republican primary, Simpson defeated Chick Heileson of Iona and Russ Mathews of Idaho Falls.
Simpson defeated Democratic nominee Mike Crawford and Independent candidate Brian Schad with 68.8% of the vote.
In the Republican primary, Simpson defeated perennial candidate Lisa Marie, earning 73% of the vote.
Simpson defeated Jennifer Martinez and Anthony Tomkins in the general election, earning 62.9% of the vote.
|Year||Democrat||Votes||Pct||Republican||Votes||Pct||3rd Party||Party||Votes||Pct||3rd Party||Party||Votes||Pct|
|1998||Richard Stallings||77,736||44.7%||Mike Simpson||91,337||52.5%||Jonathan B. Ratner||Natural Law||4,854||2.8%|
|2000||Craig Williams||58,265||25.9%||Mike Simpson (inc.)||158,912||70.7%||Donovan Bramwell||Libertarian||7,542||3.4%|
|2002||Edward Kinghorn||57,769||29.0%||Mike Simpson (inc.)||135,605||68.2%||John A. Lewis||Libertarian||5,508||2.8%|
|2004||Lin Whitworth||80,133||29.3%||Mike Simpson (inc.)||193,704||70.7%|
|2006||Jim D. Hansen||73,441||34.4%||Mike Simpson (inc.)||132,262||62.0%||Cameron Forth||Independent||5,113||2.4%||Travis J. Hedrick||Constitution||2,516||1.2%|
|2008||Debbie Holmes||83,878||28.9%||Mike Simpson (inc.)||205,777||70.9%||Gregory Nemitz||Write-in||612||0.2%|
|2010||Mike Crawford||48,749||24.4%||Mike Simpson (inc.)||137,468||68.8%||Brian Schad||Independent||13,500||6.8%|
|2012||Nicole LeFavour||110,847||34.8%||Mike Simpson (inc.)||207,412||65.1%|
|2014||Richard Stallings||82,801||38.6%||Mike Simpson (inc.)||131,492||61.4%|
|2016||Jennifer Martinez||95,940||29.4%||Mike Simpson (inc.)||205,292||62.9%||Anthony Tomkins||Constitution||25,005||7.7%|
|2018||Aaron Swisher||110,381||39.3%||Mike Simpson (inc.)||170,274||60.7%|
During the 2007 scandal involving Senator Larry Craig (R-ID), Simpson was openly considered for an appointment to the U.S. Senate in the event that Senator Craig resigned. Simpson, however, asked Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter to remove his name from consideration, claiming that the Idaho Congressional Delegation would be in a better position if he were to remain in the House and retain his seniority on the House Appropriations Committee.
Simpson rankled Senate leadership during the Craig scandal by criticizing them for their treatment of the Senator. Simpson is quoted as saying, "If that's how they treat their own, that tells me they're more interested in party than individuals, and the party is made up of individuals. How you treat them says a lot about your party." Simpson is not known to have condoned Craig's alleged misconduct, but he demanded that Craig be treated fairly. For example, he is quoted as saying, "They have people over there [in the Senate Republican Conference] in far worse trouble that they haven't said a thing about."
This article incorporates public domain material from the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress website http://bioguide.congress.gov.