BOISE — Five weeks after Election Day, Idaho Congressman Russ Fulcher (R- 1st Congressional District) says he is focused on the future.
On Tuesday, he discussed his priorities for legislation in 2021, looking forward to a U.S. House that is much more evenly split down partisan lines.
"I have over 100 pieces of legislation that I’m sponsoring and I can’t tell you the exact number of those bills that have Democrat cosponsors, but it’s a sizable percentage," said Fulcher. "In other words, there’s common ground and in our efforts here, that’s how you do this, is you find the areas of common ground and you put a stake there. And then you start working from that point."
Fulcher says one of the chief factors adding a dose of positivity is news of successful vaccinations in trials conducted by Pfizer and Moderna. He says he plans to get a vaccination as soon as it's his turn in line.
"Yeah, I intend on it. But I will also tell you, I am not a high-risk person. I know I’ve been exposed to this. I don’t have any medical conditions, I’m not in the aged category that’s a high-risk one and so I’m not going to be first in line, but that’s only to allow other people the opportunity who need it more," Fulcher said. "I will do that when the time comes and it’s appropriate and the more critical need has been satisfied."
More than 1,000 Idahoans have died because of the novel coronavirus and after initial support from the federal government, talks between interested parties in the White House, Senate and U.S. House have stalled over the months leading up to the election. With Election Day in the past, Fulcher said he expects more positive news to come for struggling Idahoans.
"After the election, the Speaker (Nancy Pelosi) has engaged a little bit more. She wanted to make sure that this didn’t get brought up again prior to the election but that’s over now and so there are things on the table like an extension of the PPP plan for the small businesses, extension of unemployment is out there, some liability protections, which were important to the Republican side, is on the table again and so, I think there’s a lot of positive news on that front."
That's not to say he plans to be a rubber stamp for stimulus or relief bills. Concerns about future debt remain a focus for the Congressman, who enters his second official term in January.
"For people like me, every time we cast a vote on one of these packages we are sending the bill to our grandkids because you and I will not be alive when this gets paid off and so we need to be mindful of this," Fulcher said. "Government caused a lot of it and so we have an obligation to help people but we need to understand the ramifications and make sure that our constituency knows that."
Fulcher handily won re-election in November and says the turnout and successes of the Republican Party in Ada County and statewide show support for conservative values and principles.
Since election day, Republicans have been reticent to acknowledge President-elect Joe Biden's victory, including Fulcher. He tells Idaho News 6 he supports President Donald Trump's efforts to challenge individual state results in court.
"If there’s anything that can be done to reduce the amount of fraudulent activity -- we all know there’s a certain amount -- but if we can simply reduce it, that is going to provide for a better union and the next time we have an election, we’ll know more. We’ll be smarter. We won’t have some of these things that have taken place," he said.
Even as the president continues to fight his case in courts, the Electoral College electors are scheduled to vote on Monday, December 14 and come later in the month of January, barring major and unprecedented action by the electoral college or Congress, Joe Biden will be inaugurated as president. Idaho News 6 asked Fulcher when he'd be willing to recognize the election as over and a winner confirmed.
"I believe there’s going to be a swearing-in and I think it’s scheduled for the 20th of January and that’s going to happen and I don’t see anything that’s going to change that and so we have to embrace that," said Fulcher. "We have to engage behind the leadership of the executive branch and recognize that."
Nearly every case brought by the president has failed in courts, so far. But Fulcher dismisses the idea that the election was fraud-free.
"The question is, is it enough to reverse the results. Don’t know the answer to that question. So far, at least from what we can tell, there hasn’t been legal information or at least enough evidence to say that that is going to be reversed."