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BOISE -- U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson is shifting Appropriations Committee assignments, taking on new chairmanship that puts him a key position to help determine funding for facilities including the Department of Energy's Idaho National Laboratory.

Simpson's move Wednesday to become chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development was precipitated by the death of Rep. Bill Young of Florida.

Young's passing caused a reshuffling of leadership assignments among majority House Republicans.

Previously, Simpson headed the Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee.

In addition to helping set funding for the Department of Energy, Simpson's new committee also helps control the purse strings for the National Nuclear Security Administration and dam managers at the Army Corps of Engineers.

Next May, Simpson faces a challenge from GOP rival Bryan Smith in Idaho's Republican primary.

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