Idaho’s U.S. senators put self-interest over service

Rep. Lauren Necochea, D-Boise
Reader Contributor

Idahoans deserve elected officials who do what is best for Idaho and prioritize the people they are elected to represent. Unfortunately, the track records of our longtime Republican Sens. Jim Risch and Mike Crapo indicate a different set of priorities, as recent headlines have shown. 

Earlier this month, Risch made the news for his attempts to reroute flight paths at the Boise Airport. Unhappy with the occasional sound of planes taking on and off near his 44-acre ranch, he used his position to ask the Federal Aviation Administration to change the flight traffic patterns. 

Despite being told by an administrator that this would threaten safety and reduce efficiency, he convinced Sen.Ted Cruz to add a clause to must-pass legislation. 

This isn’t the first time Risch has misused his influence. In 2018, he nearly caused a government shutdown over a provision to rename The Boulder-White Clouds Wilderness after his former political rival, Cecil Andrus. Such pettiness in the face of important legislation is deeply troubling. 

Rep. Lauren Necochea, D-Boise.

Meanwhile, Crapo has spent his decades-long political career catering to his corporate donors, at the expense of regular Idahoans. He has accepted substantial contributions from payday lending companies, which use deceptive practices to charge Idahoans a shocking average annual interest rate of 652%. In 2021, he opposed a resolution to overturn a “true lender” rule, which let non-bank lenders avoid state interest rate caps through partnerships with lenders. 

In this way, even if Idaho passed a state interest rate cap, Crapo wanted to ensure his friends who make predatory loans could get around it. 

Further concerning is his recent hostility to a pilot program that would allow taxpayers to save time and money by filing their returns directly to the IRS — rather than having to pay a corporation for filing assistance. Crapo is happy forcing Idahoans to pay these fees, which go right into the coffers of the financial services corporations that heavily fund his campaign. 

Their recent votes also tell a story. 

Last year, Risch and Crapo were among the 11 senators who voted against the PACT Act, a bill to enhance benefits for veterans exposed to toxic chemicals.

Crapo and Risch’s opposition to capping insulin at $35 a month highlights their eagerness to side with price-gouging corporations over people needing life-saving medication. 

And they have voted against enshrining same-sex and interracial marriage rights, paid sick leave for rail workers and codifying Roe v. Wade protections. 

These two senators have collectively amassed more than 80 years in public office, solidifying their status as career politicians. It’s finally time to hold them accountable at the ballot box and usher in change that prioritizes the interests of the people of Idaho over personal gain.

Rep. Lauren Necochea is the House assistant Democratic leader, representing District 19 in Boise on the Commerce and Human Resources; Environment, Energy and Technology; Revenue and Taxation; and Ways and Means committees.

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