Idahoans cognizant of the nation’s ever-growing debt load have a hero in Congress: Republican U.S. Sen. Jim Risch.
Risch, Idaho’s junior senator was a top spending-cutter in the 112th Congress, according to a report from the National Taxpayers Union Foundation (NTUF).
NTUF, a nonprofit focused on cutting government spending, said that Risch had the ninth-largest net savings agenda in the U.S. Senate in the last Congress, which ended in early January. The Republican senator authored or co-sponsored bills proposing more than $369 billion in total savings in the last two years.
Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, also a Republican, nabbed the top spot, proposing more than $650 billion in spending cuts. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., had the largest increase spending agenda. He proposed more than $1 trillion in spending.
In the all-GOP Idaho delegation, Sen. Mike Crapo, Idaho’s senior senator, grabbed the next spot, proposing just more than $260 billion in cuts. Second-term U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador came in third, introducing $201 billion in savings bills. U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson, a seven-term congressman, nabbed the final spot, proposing $64 billion in cuts.
Many of Risch’s reduction bills, though, never had the chance of becoming law. For example, Senate Bill 192, the Repealing the Job-Killing Health Care Law Act, never even received a committee hearing in the Democrat-controlled Senate.
Similarly, the Risch-co-sponsored S. 3482, the Cut, Cap and Balance Act of 2012, a measure that would have limited future federal spending and provided for a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution, couldn’t pass the Senate, either.
Looking at the larger picture, more members of Congress are looking for ways to reduce federal outlays.
Democrats in the Senate proposed an average net agenda of $39 billion in spending increases in the 112th Congress, down by $157 billion in the prior Congress.
Senate Republicans have become more cost-conscious as of late, reversing from a $25 billion spending increase agenda in the 111th Congress to a $273 billion decrease agenda in the 112th session. NTUF noted that the number of cutting bills soared to 348, topping the previous high of 265 in the 108th Congress.
The renewed focus on spending reductions could be a trend. NTUF noted that the number of net-cutters—members of the U.S. House offering more spending reductions than increases—jumped to 234. Newer members of Congress called for less spending and more reductions than the Capitol’s seasoned veterans.
In all, Congress proposed $1.2 trillion in total spending in the last Congress when also taking into account decrease bills.
Risch, still in his first U.S. Senate term, is slowly gaining notoriety for his conservative credentials. Earlier this year, the National Journal rated the former Idaho governor and state lawmaker as the most conservative member of the U.S. Senate. The publication noted that Risch has been “a true stalwart when it comes to his conservative voting record.”
Crapo came in ninth in the National Journal’s report.