When then-citizen Walt Minnick was running for the U.S. Congress against Republican incumbent Bill Sali in 2008, he touted his work as a businessman who steered his companies through three recessions successfully. It seems that Minnick has kept his pro-business inklings after being recognized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce on Monday with the Spirit of Enterprise Award. The rest of Idaho's congressional delegation - Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch and Rep. Mike Simpson - were also recognized the group, though Minnick outscored each of them.
The chamber, which represents more than 3 million businesses of every shape and size, graded each member of the U.S. House and Senate on certain votes having to do with business dealings in the country. Grades for votes included the health care reform bill, which the chamber opposed, and the stimulus package, supported by the group. Each member of Idaho's congressional delegation opposed both of those measures. To receive the award, federal lawmakers had to agree with the chamber's position on specific votes - seven for senators and 15 for representatives - at least 70 percent of the time. Minnick received an 87 percent, Simpson an 81, and Crapo and Risch both secured a 71 percent rating from the group.
One local chamber says that though it doesn't rank or grade Idaho's congressional delegation, it does pay attention to the monitoring being done by the national organization. Todd Christensen, president and CEO of the Coeur D'Alene Chamber of Commerce, told IdahoReporter.com that his organization is cognizant of what Idaho's congressmen and senators are doing through the national chamber and work to meet with federal lawmakers on a regular basis. "We try to engage candidates various ways, including face-to-face meetings and community forums," Christensen said. He also noted that his chamber has a policy of not endorsing candidates.
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