Jim Risch

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Jim Risch
Jim Risch.jpg
U.S. Senate, Idaho
In office
January 3, 2009-Present
Term ends
January 3, 2015
Years in position 6
PredecessorLarry E. Craig (R)
Base salary$174,000/year
Elections and appointments
First elected2008
Next general November 4, 2014
Campaign $$3,114,815
Appointed byGovernor Butch Otter
Term limitsN/A
Prior offices
Idaho State Senate
Lieutenant Governor of Idaho
2003-2006, 2007-2009
Governor of Idaho
Bachelor'sUniversity of Idaho (1965)
J.D.University of Idaho College of Law (1968)
Date of birthMay 3, 1943
Place of birthMilwaukee, Wisconsin
Net worth$53,385,526
Office website
James E. "Jim" Risch (b. May 3, 1943, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin) is a U.S. Senator, representing Idaho. Risch was first elected to the Senate in 2008.

Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter appointed Risch to the Senate seat to succeed Senator Larry Craig, who indicated his resignation on September 30, 2007.[1]

Risch previously was a member of the Idaho State Senate from 1975 to 1988 and 1995 to 2002.[2] He also served as Lieutenant Governor of Idaho from 2003 to 2006 and 2007 to 2009 and as the Governor of Idaho from 2006 to 2007.[1]

Risch is a rancher, attorney and politician from Ada County. He was the first Roman Catholic to serve as Governor of Idaho in over 90 years.[3]

Based on analysis of multiple outside rankings, Risch is an average Republican member of Congress, meaning he will vote with the Republican Party on the majority of bills.


Risch was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He attended the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee from 1961 to 1963, then transferred to the University of Idaho where he was a member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity. He obtained his B.S. in Forestry in 1965 and continued his education at the University of Idaho College of Law, serving on Law Review, and receiving his J.D. in 1968.

Risch entered politics in 1970, at age 27, winning election as Ada County Prosecuting Attorney. While serving in this capacity, he taught undergraduate classes in criminal justice at Boise State University and served as the President of the Idaho Prosecuting Attorneys Association.[4]


Committee assignments

U.S. Senate


Risch serves on the following Senate committees:[5]



Legislative actions

113th Congress


The second session of the 113th Congress enacted into law 224 out of the 3215 introduced bills (7 percent). Comparatively, the 112th Congress had 4.2 percent of introduced bills enacted into law in the second session.[7] The Senate confirmed 13,949 out of 18,323 executive nominations received (76.1 percent). For more information pertaining to Risch's voting record in the 113th Congress, please see the below sections.[8]

National security

Committee vote on Syria
See also: United States involvement in Syria

Nay3.png On September 4, 2013, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee narrowly approved an authorization for President Obama to use limited force against Syria.[9][10]

The vote came after a three-hour briefing with top Obama administration officials, including Secretary of State John Kerry and James Clapper, the director of national intelligence.[11]

Of the nine Democratic members and eight Republican members that make up the committee, seven Democrats and three Republicans voted in favor, while five Republicans and two Democrats opposed the authorization.[11] A single "present" vote was cast by Ed Markey (D). Risch was one of the five Republicans who opposed the authorization.[12]

John Brennan CIA nomination

Voted "No" Risch voted against the confirmation of John Brennan as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. The nomination was confirmed by the Senate on March 7, 2013, with a vote of 63 - 34. Most Democrats supported the nomination, while Republicans were somewhat divided with roughly one-third supporting the nomination.[13]

Drones filibuster
See also: Rand Paul filibuster of John Brennan's CIA Nomination in March 2013

On March 6, 2013, Senator Rand Paul (R) led a 13-hour filibuster of President Obama's CIA Director nominee, John Brennan. Paul started the filibuster in order to highlight his concerns about the administration's drone policies. In particular, Paul said he was concerned about whether a drone could be used to kill an American citizen within the United States border, without any due process involved. Paul and other civil liberties activists criticized President Obama for not offering a clear response to the question. A total of 14 senators joined Paul in the filibuster -- 13 Republicans and one Democrat.[14][15][16]

According to the website Breitbart, Risch was one of 30 Republican senators who did not support the filibuster.[17][18]

The day after the filibuster, Attorney General Eric Holder sent a letter to Paul, responding to the filibuster. Holder wrote, "Does the president have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on U.S. soil? The answer to that is no."[19]


Government shutdown
See also: United States budget debate, 2013

Voted "No" During the shutdown in October 2013, the Senate rejected, down party lines, every House-originated bill that stripped the budget of funding for the Affordable Care Act. A deal was reached late on October 16, 2013, just hours before the debt ceiling deadline. The bill to reopen the government, H.R. 2775, lifted the $16.7 trillion debt limit and funds the government through January 15, 2014. Federal employees also received retroactive pay for the shutdown period. The only concession made by Senate Democrats was to require income verification for Obamacare subsidies.[20] The final vote on H.R. 2775 was 81-18, with all 18 votes against the bill from Republican members. Risch voted with the Republican Party against the bill.[21]

No Budget, No Pay Act of 2013

Voted "No" Risch voted against H.R.325 -- No Budget, No Pay Act of 2013. The bill passed the Senate on January 31, 2013, with a vote of 64 - 34. The purpose of the bill was to temporarily suspended the debt ceiling and withhold the pay of members of Congress until a budget could be passed. The vote largely followed party lines with Democrats overwhelmingly supporting it and many Republicans in opposition to the bill.[13]

2013 Senate Budget Proposal

Voted "No" Risch voted against the 2013 Senate Budget Proposal.[13] On March 23, after an all-night debate that ended just before 5 a.m., by a 50 to 49 vote the Democratically controlled Senate approved its first budget in four years. No Republicans voted for the Senate plan, and four Democrats opposed it. All four are from red states and are up for re-election in 2014. Risch was one of the four Democrats who voted against the budget proposal.[13]

The approved plan is a $3.7 trillion budget for 2014 and would provide a fast track for passage of tax increases, trim spending modestly and leave the government still deeply in the red for the next decade.

The approval of a budget in the Senate began the process of setting up contentious, and potentially fruitless, negotiations with the Republican-controlled House starting in April to reconcile two vastly different plans for dealing with the nation’s economic and budgetary problems.

The House plan would have brought the government’s taxes and spending into balance by 2023 with cuts to domestic spending even below the levels of automatic across-the-board cuts for federal programs now, and it orders up dramatic and controversial changes to Medicare and the tax code.

The Senate plan differed greatly, and included $100 billion in upfront infrastructure spending to bolster the economy and calls for special fast-track rules to overhaul the tax code and raise $975 billion over 10 years in legislation that could not be filibustered. Even with that tax increase and prescribed spending cuts, the plan approved by the Senate would leave the government with a $566 billion annual deficit in 10 years, and $5.2 trillion in additional debt over that window.


Mexico-U.S. border

Voted "Yes" Risch voted in favor of Senate Amendment 1197 -- Requires the Completion of the Fence Along the United States-Mexico Border. The amendment was rejected by the Senate on June 18, 2013, with a vote of 39 - 54. The purpose of the amendment was to require the completion of 350 miles of fence described in the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 before registered provisional immigrant status may be granted. It would also require 700 miles of fence be completed before the status of registered provisional immigrants may be changed to permanent resident status. The vote followed party lines.[13]

Social Issues

Violence Against Women (2013)

Voted "No" Risch voted against S.47 -- Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013. The bill was passed by the Senate on February 12, 2013, with a vote of 78 - 22. The purpose of the bill was to combat violence against women, from domestic violence to international trafficking in persons. All 22 dissenting votes were cast by Republicans.[13]

Previous congressional sessions

Fiscal Cliff

Voted "Yes" Risch voted for the fiscal cliff compromise bill, which made permanent most of the Bush tax cuts originally passed in 2001 and 2003 while also raising tax rates on the highest income levels. The bill was passed in the Senate by a 89 - 8 vote on January 1, 2013.[22]

Threaten roadblock

In 2010, Risch and Mike Crapo joined Republicans in vowing to block all action until the Senate extends the Bush-era tax cuts and a government spending plan. All 42 Senate Republicans signed a letter sent to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev..[23]

Risch said this follows the message voters sent during the last election.[23]

“It is long past time we focus on getting Americans back to work and our deficit spending stopped,” Risch said. “That’s what Americans voted for last month.”[23]


Risch and Mike Crapo joined a majority of Senate Republicans in 2010 in voting down proposals that would allow homosexuals to openly serve in the military ("Don't Ask, Don't Tell") and allow young people in the U.S. illegally to remain in the country if they attend college or join the military (DREAM Act). Both Risch and Crapo said the two plans were rushed through by Democrats during Congress’s lame duck session.[24]

Risch and Crapo both cast procedural votes against the DREAM Act, short for Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors, and a defense spending bill that would have repealed the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy preventing gays and lesbians from openly serving.[24]

“Today’s votes were nothing more than the majority checking off a laundry list of campaign promises to their base,” Risch said in a prepared statement. “The DREAM Act remains a deeply troubling bill that provides amnesty and taxpayer-funded benefits to those who broke our nation’s laws. The defense authorization bill was weighed down with social issues like ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and funding for abortions at military clinics. These policies put social change ahead of the well-being of our men and women in uniform.”[24]

Presidential preference


See also: Endorsements by state officials of presidential candidates in the 2012 election

Jim Risch endorsed Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election. [25]



See also: United States Senate elections in Idaho, 2014

Risch ran for re-election to the U.S. Senate in 2014.


Despite a pledge to steer clear of endorsing incumbents, Ted Cruz has financially backed a handful of Senate Republicans, including fellow Texan John Cornyn[26]

Cruz’s leadership political action committee, Jobs Growth and Freedom Fund, made only five donations in the first six months of its existence, and all of those dollars went to incumbents. On May 10, 2013, according to Federal Election Commission records, Cruz wrote a $2,500 check to the campaign of Cornyn.[26]

Cruz also handed out out four other $2,500 donations to incumbents that same day: Jim Inhofe, Mike Lee, Risch and Tim Scott, who was appointed to the Senate after Jim DeMint resigned and is running in 2014 for the remaining years of DeMint’s term.[26]


On November 4, 2008, Risch won election to the United States Senate. He defeated Larry LaRocco (D), Rex Rammell (I), Pro-Life (I), Kent A. Marmon (L) and Kevin Volkmann (I) in the general election.[27]

U.S. Senate, Idaho General Election, 2008
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Republican Green check mark transparent.pngJim Risch 57.7% 371,744
     Democratic Larry LaRocco 34.1% 219,903
     Independent Rex Rammell 5.4% 34,510
     Independent Pro-Life 1.3% 8,662
     Libertarian Kent A. Marmon 1.5% 9,958
     Independent Kevin Volkmann 0% 3
Total Votes 644,780


Risch was expected to enter the 2006 Republican gubernatorial primary to succeed Kempthorne, who was completing his second term at this time of his federal appointment. However, Congressman Otter had announced his candidacy for the position in December 2004, and had gained a significant headstart in campaigning and fundraising. In November 2005, Risch announced his intention to seek election again as lieutenant governor.

Although he had another opportunity to enter the gubernatorial race after Kempthorne's appointment in March 2006, Risch again chose not to challenge Otter for the position. Risch was unopposed for the 2006 Republican nomination for lieutenant governor and defeated former Democratic Congressman Larry LaRocco in the general election. Risch stepped down as governor in January 2007 and returned to the role of lieutenant governor.

Campaign donors

Comprehensive donor information for Risch is available dating back to 2008. Based on available campaign finance records, Risch raised a total of $3,114,815 during that time period. This information was last updated on April 3, 2013.[28]

Jim Risch's Campaign Contribution History
Year Office Result Contributions
2008 U.S. Senate (Idaho) Won $3,114,815
Grand Total Raised $3,114,815


Candidates for Congress are required to file up to seven main reports with the Federal Election Commission during the 2014 elections season. Below are Risch's reports.[29]


Ideology and leadership

See also: GovTrack's Political Spectrum & Legislative Leadership ranking

Based on an analysis of bill sponsorship by GovTrack, Risch is a "lonely far-right Republican follower".[35]

Like-minded colleagues

The website OpenCongress tracks the voting records of each member to determine with whom he or she votes most and least often. The results include a member from each party.[36]

Risch most often votes with:

Risch least often votes with:

Lifetime voting record

See also: Lifetime voting records of United States Senators and Representatives

According to the website GovTrack, Risch missed 18 of 1,274 roll call votes from January 2009 to March 2013. This amounts to 1.4%, which is better than the median of 1.7% among currently serving senators as of March 2013.[37]

Congressional staff salaries

See also: Staff salaries of United States Senators and Representatives

The website Legistorm compiles staff salary information for members of Congress. Risch paid his congressional staff a total of $2,190,509 in 2011. He ranks 16th on the list of the lowest paid Republican senatorial staff salaries and ranks 21st overall of the lowest paid senatorial staff salaries in 2011. Overall, Idaho ranks 15th in average salary for senatorial staff. The average U.S. Senate congressional staff was paid $2,529,141.70 in fiscal year 2011.[38]

Net worth

See also: Net Worth of United States Senators and Representatives


Based on congressional financial disclosure forms and calculations made available by OpenSecrets.org, Risch's net worth as of 2011 was estimated between $19,002,055 and $87,768,997. That averages to $53,385,526, which is higher than the average net worth of Republican senators in 2011 of $6,358,668. His average net worth decreased by 1.30% from 2010.[39]


Based on congressional financial disclosure forms and calculations made available by OpenSecrets.org, Risch's net worth as of 2010 was estimated between $19,454,055 and $88,721,997. That averages to $54,088,026, which is higher than the average net worth of Republican senators in 2010 of $7,054,258.[40]

National Journal vote ratings

See also: National Journal vote ratings

Each year National Journal publishes an analysis of how liberally or conservatively each member of Congress voted in the previous year.


Risch ranked 1st in the conservative rankings in 2012.[41]


Risch ranked 7th in the conservative rankings in 2011.[42]

Voting with party


Jim Risch voted with the Republican Party 90.4% of the time, which ranked 15th among the 46 Senate Republican members as of June 2013.[43]


Senator Risch and his wife Vicki have 3 sons, 2 daughters-in-law and 6 grandchildren. Their commitment to Idaho and their work together earned them the distinction of being selected as Idaho's Healthy Marriage Ambassadors in 2007. They live on a ranch outside of Boise and maintain an apartment in Washington, D.C.[44]

Contact Information

Office of the Lieutenant Governor
Room 225, State Capitol
Boise, Idaho 83720-0057
Phone: 208-334-2200
Fax: 208-334-3259

Recent news

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See also

External links



  1. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named bioguide
  2. Bioguide "Jim Risch" Accessed June 21, 2013
  3. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named biogude
  4. Lieutenant Governor Risch's biography
  5. Congressional Quarterly "Senate Committee List" Accessed January 22, 2013
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 James E. Risch:U.S. Senator for Idaho "Committee Assignments" Accessed October 13, 2001
  7. Congressional Record, "Resume of Congressional Activity, First Session of the 112th Congress," accessed September 5, 2013
  8. Congressional Record, "Resume of Congressional Activity, Second Session of the 113th Congress," accessed March 4, 2014
  9. Politico, "Senate panel approves Syria measure," accessed September 5, 2013
  10. USA Today, "Senate committee approves Syria attack resolution," accessed September 5, 2013
  11. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named syriacommitteevote
  12. Politico, "How Senate Foreign Relations Committee members voted on Syria," accessed September 5, 2013
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 13.5 Project Votesmart, "Jim Risch Key Votes," accessed October 16, 2013
  14. CNN, "Rand Paul says he's heard from White House after filibuster," March 7, 2013
  15. USA Today, "Rand Paul filibuster ranks among Senate's longest," March 7, 2013
  16. ABC News, "Rand Paul wins applause from GOP and liberals," March 7, 2013
  17. Breitbart, "AWOL: Meet the GOP senators who refused to stand with Rand," March 7, 2013
  18. Politico, "Rand Paul filibuster blasted by Sens. John McCain, Lindsey Graham," March 7, 2013
  19. Washington Post, "Eric Holder responds to Rand Paul with ‘no’," March 7, 2013
  20. The Washington Post, "Reid, McConnell propose bipartisan Senate bill to end shutdown, extend borrowing," accessed October 16, 2013
  21. Senate.gov, "H.R. 2775 As Amended," accessed October 31, 2013
  22. U.S. Senate "Roll Call Vote on the Fiscal Cliff" Accessed January 4, 2013.
  23. 23.0 23.1 23.2 "Senate Republicans, including Risch and Crapo, put up roadblock on non-tax issues," Idaho Reporter, December 2, 2010
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 "Risch, Crapo joins Senate GOP to block on DREAM Act, ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal," Idaho Reporter, December 9th, 2010
  25. The Hill, "2012 GOP Lawmaker Endorsements for President," retrieved November 23, 2011
  26. 26.0 26.1 26.2 Washington Post, "Cruz backed Cornyn, other incumbents, despite no-endorsement pledge," accessed August 26, 2013
  27. U.S. Congress House Clerk, "Statistics of the Congressional Election of November 4, 2008," accessed March 28, 2013
  28. Open Secrets "Jim Risch" Accessed April 3, 2013
  29. Federal Election Commission "Jim Risch 2014 Summary reports," Accessed October 29, 2013
  30. Federal Election Commission, "April Quarterly," accessed July 26, 2013
  31. Federal Election Commission, "July Quarterly," accessed July 26, 2013
  32. Federal Election Commission, "October Quarterly," accessed October 29, 2013
  33. Federal Election Commission, "Year End Report," accessed February 19, 2014
  34. Federal Election Commission, "July Quarterly," accessed October 16, 2014
  35. Gov Track "Jim Risch," Accessed March 3, 2012
  36. OpenCongress, "Rep. Jim Risch," Accessed August 2, 2013
  37. GovTrack, "Jim Risch," Accessed March 29, 2013
  38. LegiStorm "Jim Risch"
  39. OpenSecrets.org, "Risch, (R-Idaho), 2011"
  40. OpenSecrets.org, "Risch, (R-Idaho), 2010"
  41. National Journal, "2012 Congressional Vote Ratings," February 28, 2013
  42. National Journal, "Searchable Vote Ratings Tables: Senate," February 23, 2012
  43. OpenCongress, "Voting With Party," accessed July 2014
  44. James E. Risch:U.S. State Senator for Idaho "Biography:About" Accessed October 14, 2011
Political offices
Preceded by
Larry Craig
U.S. Senate - Idaho
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Governor of Idaho
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Lieutenant Governor of Idaho
2003–2006, 2007-2009
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Idaho State Senate
1975-1988, 1995-2002
Succeeded by