Congress

USFWS

The future of the greater sage grouse, already uncertain, may get even murkier because Congress is considering delaying protections for the Western bird.

Congress is considering a $1.1 trillion spending bill that would keep the federal government from shutting down. A legislative rider in the bill would put the brakes on protecting the bird.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Republican Idaho Sen. Jim Risch says the U.S. Senate should not have released a report on CIA interrogation practices following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The report that became public Tuesday says the CIA tortured prisoners, did not get much valuable information from doing so, and lied to Congress about it.   

U.S. Forest Service

 A slow wildfire season in the U.S. means the Forest Service won’t have to dip into other parts of its budget to cover firefighting expenses. The federal government’s fiscal year ends Tuesday. It’s the first time in three years the agency’s firefighting allotment will cover actual costs.

The Forest Service exceeded its firefighting budget by $505 million last summer, and $440 million the year before.

Rep. Raul Labrador, a Tea Party favorite, is calling for Congress to debate and vote on further military action against the extremist group calling itself the Islamic State.

Labrador thinks President Obama needs to sketch out a well-defined mission with a clear exit strategy in order to win Congressional support in his forthcoming speech to the nation.

Congressional investigators say the Pentagon violated the law when it swapped five Taliban leaders for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who was held prisoner in Afghanistan for five years.

The nonpartisan Government Accountability Office says the Defense Department's failure to notify the relevant congressional committees at least 30 days in advance of the exchange broke the law.

Mike Crapo

U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo says he will seek re-election in 2016.

In making the announcement Friday in Lewiston, the 63-year-old Republican says he's committed to resolving a number of critical issues to the country.

The Lewiston Tribune reports that Crapo was elected to the Senate in 1998 to succeed Sen. Dirk Kempthorne. He is serving the fourth year of his third term and is ranked 39th in seniority in the Senate.

Dan Popkey
Jim Hadley / Idaho Public Television

Dan Popkey, the longtime Idaho Statesman reporter who announced last week he’s going to work for Idaho Congressman Raul Labrador, says his decision to make a career change has been an agonizing one.

After cancelling a string of campaign events and fundraisers this week, Montana Democrat John Walsh announced Thursday that he would drop out of the race for the U.S. Senate.

"I am ending my campaign so that I can focus on fulfilling the responsibility entrusted to me as your U.S. senator," Walsh said in a statement. "You deserve someone who will always fight for Montana, and I will."

He will serve out the remainder of his Senate term, which expires in Jan. 2015.

On Sunday morning, with haze from wildfires thick in the air, Sen. John Walsh addressed a graduation for officer candidates at the Fort Harrison Army post outside Helena, Mont.

"As your senator and someone who sat in your seat approximately 30 years ago today, I will always be your partner," Walsh told the small crowd.

For Walsh, this should have been a perfect event. He's the only Iraq War veteran serving in the U.S. Senate. And he had graduated from this same training here.

Idaho Republican Congressman Raul Labrador lost his bid Thursday for majority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives. But the run may not be a complete loss for Idaho’s ultra-conservative congressman.

This post was updated at 4:20 p.m. ET.

Calif. Rep. Kevin McCarthy has been chosen by House Republicans to be their next majority leader, taking the place of Rep. Eric Cantor, who was defeated in a stunning primary upset earlier this month. Louisiana's Rep. Steve Scalise has been selected to fill the majority whip post left vacant by McCarthy's promotion.

McCarthy defeated Idaho Rep. Raul Labrador, a conservative with close ties to the Tea Party, in a secret ballot for the position.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho Republican Rep. Raul Labrador could begin his third term in the U.S. House as Majority Leader. Labrador Friday announced he's running for the high-profile post after Rep. Eric Cantor, R-VA, lost his primary election.

The U.S. House of Representatives Thursday rejected the Pentagon's plans to retire aging ships and planes.

Scott Graf / Boise State Public Radio

A coalition of Congressional Democrats and Republicans gathered in Boise Monday to tout a proposal that would change the way the federal government pays for firefighting operations in the West and beyond.   

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell joined Sen. Mike Crapo, R-ID, Sen. Jim Risch, R-ID, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-OR, Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-OR, Rep. Raul Labrador, R-ID, and Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise.

Scott Graf / Boise State Public Radio

A bipartisan effort is underway in Congress to create a new way to pay for battling wildfires that prevents the diversion of money intended to reduce the size of such fires.

Lawmakers from Oregon and Idaho met with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on Monday to discuss the budget reform.

President Obama's proposed budget seeks a change in the long-standing method of funding the fight against the most catastrophic wildfires.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho’s senators Tuesday sided with a majority of their colleges to pass the revamped farm bill. It now goes to President Obama for a signature. Both Idaho senators had said they were undecided in the days leading up to the vote.

gray wolf, wolves
U.S. Fish & Wildlife

Republicans in Congress say a 40-year-old law meant to protect animals and plants from extinction has become bogged down by litigation and needs to be updated.

A group of 13 GOP lawmakers released a report Tuesday detailing their proposed changes to the Endangered Species Act, one of the nation's cornerstone environmental laws.

Proponents credit the act with staving off extinction for hundreds of species — from the bald eagle and American alligator to the gray whale. President Richard Nixon signed it into law in December 1973.

CompassioninWorldFarming / Flickr

Idaho’s Republican delegation in the U.S. House voted early Wednesday in favor of the new farm bill. Rep. Raul Labrador and Rep. Mike Simpson cast votes in favor of the legislation, which cuts more than $8 billion in food stamp spending while ending a direct subsidy to crop farmers. It also expands crop insurance programs backed by the federal government.

Nels Mitchell
Idaho Democratic Party

A Boise lawyer plans to run as a Democrat for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Republican Jim Risch.

Nels Mitchell aims to announce his run Tuesday at Boise's historic train depot.

Mitchell grew up in Idaho's capital, but spent much of his professional career as a lawyer in New York and California.

His legal experience includes several years as an associate regional director at the Securities and Exchange Commission in southern California, where he oversaw a staff of about 75 people who investigated and prosecuted securities fraud cases in the Los Angeles area.

In the congressional fundraising horse race, Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson says he outraised challenger Bryan Smith nearly four-to-one in 2013's final quarter.

Smith announced Thursday that he raised $111,066 in the fourth quarter. The money will go to his GOP primary election bid against Simpson, with the vote on May 20.

Meanwhile, Simpson says he brought in $430,000.

In total, Simpson says he raised more than $1.25 million in 2013, with Smith raking in $525,000, including his own money, since joining the race in June.

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