Author: Rep. Russ Fulcher

On March 22, the Idaho Statesman ran a column riddled with inaccuracies, lies and innuendo, regarding my “no” vote on H.R. 6201, the Families First Coronavirus Act. To put this exchange in perspective, I was the target of the column, and the author was Bob Kustra, former president of Boise State University, the same Bob Kustra who’s been quoted as follows: “What do we do?” Kustra said. “We take from those who can afford it and redistribute to those who need it. We do it quietly as public institutions and without fanfare.” (Arbiter, Nov. 12, 2009)

As I have communicated publicly, I voted “no” on H.R. 6201 largely because it was still being written at vote time. Once upon a time on another bill, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi famously said, “… we need to pass this bill so we can see what is in it.” With H.R. 6201, she created a scenario where we needed to pass a bill so she could write it.

Call me skeptical, but I don’t think it’s right to vote on something before knowing all the contents. Unlike with the prior bill that I supported, which authorized $8.3 billion for emergency funding (conveniently ignored by Mr. Kustra), there were more reasons to be skeptical of H.R.6201: Republican members of Congress were largely cut out of the negotiation, and preliminary drafts showed significant, onerous implications to small businesses. As it turned out, my skepticism was warranted. Eighty-eight pages of corrections and amendments were later inserted via a “procedural” move. As the president says, we can’t let the cure be worse than the problem.

I’m disappointed in the speaker for orchestrating passage in a way that I believe was intentionally secretive, and I’m disappointed that Mr. Kustra was so uninformed before going to print.

As to the accusation that I’m “bought and paid for” by lobbyists, specifically NFIB (National Federation of Independent Business) here are the facts: To date, my campaign’s received from NFIB $1,500 in August ‘18 and $1,000 in June, ’19. If anyone interprets that as being “bought and paid for,” they’re not familiar with the scope of a modern-day congressional campaign.

Now here’s some good news: During my “lackluster” time in office, some shining stars have emerged — my staff. In 14 months, my staff in D.C., Meridian, Lewiston and Coeur d’Alene have helped more than 1,000 constituents navigate federal bureaucracies and have returned more than $1.5 million in rightfully owed benefits. They’ve helped prevent veterans from losing homes due to VA negligence. Today they’re helping people stranded in other countries or quarantined to get pathways home, and they’re connecting an Idaho ventilator manufacturer with HHS to offer help increasing national supply.

Right now, along with the rest of Idaho’s federal delegation, I’m working to respond to a genuine health concern and the resulting economic turmoil. America’s health system and infrastructure are the best in the world. Our citizens are smart, caring and resilient. Yes, we’re struggling, but we’re better positioned than other states and countries. Together, we will prevail.

Mr. Kustra, I have no monopoly on wisdom and do not profess every decision I make is correct. I do not believe in re-distributing wealth, but I do seek Divine and human counsel in doing the best job I can. If you need clarification on my actions, please contact me.