House Dems propose billions in extra funding for environmental programs that Trump sought to cut
House Democrats on Tuesday rebuffed President TrumpDonald John TrumpLawsuit alleges Trump campaign paid women less than men Graham encourages Donald Trump Jr. to plead the 5th Crunch time for Senate disaster aid talks MORE’s attempts to drastically scale back funding for environmental programs, releasing two spending bills that upped funding to the programs, including those the administration hoped to scrap entirely.
The first bill from the House Appropriations Committee allocated $37.28 billion for the Interior Department and the environment, which was $7.24 billion above the president’s request.
While Trump proposed cutting funding to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by about a third, Democrats are hoping to increase funding to the agency by $672 million. The proposal would bring the EPA’s budget to a total of $9.5 billion.
“Our Interior-Environment funding bill totally rejects the pro-pollution, anti-public lands, anti-environmental protection budget proposal submitted to Congress by President Trump,” said Rep. Betty McCollumBetty Louise McCollumTrump moves DC July 4 fireworks display, plans to deliver remarks: report Trump Interior chief says climate change response falls on Congress Overnight Energy: Interior watchdog opens investigation into new secretary | Warren unveils 2020 plan to stop drilling on public lands | Justices reject case challenging state nuclear subsidies | Court orders EPA to re-evaluate Obama pollution rule MORE (D-Minn.).
“Instead, Democrats are prioritizing investments that ensure our air is safe to breathe and our water is safe to drink,” she added.
The $13.8 billion proposed for the Interior Department, which includes funding for land management, Fish and Wildlife Services, National Park Services and Ecological Services, came out $2.4 billion above Trump’s request.
The increases to the Interior budget include funding for 500 additional staffers within the National Park Service, as well as an extra $135 million to deal with deferred maintenance at parks.
The bill also sets aside $18 million in the EPA budget for the study and regulation of a chemical used in a variety of nonstick products and fire-fighting foam that has been leaching into water.
A second bill from Democrats on funding for energy and water programs offered an 11 percent increase to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. The proposal would replace Trump’s proposed 86 percent cut, and also gives a $59 million funding boost to the Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy, a key energy research program.
In his budget, Trump not only proposed eliminating the $366 million in current funding for the program, but clawing back $287 million additional dollars in funds that had not yet been obligated.
Rep. Marcy KapturMarcia (Marcy) Carolyn KapturThe Hill’s Morning Report – Lawmakers split over Mueller findings: ‘case closed’ vs. ‘cover-up’ Trump, DeVos bungle Special Olympics budget Trump contradicts his own budget proposal, tells rally crowd he’ll give more money for Great Lakes restoration MORE (D-Ohio), who chairs the appropriations subcommittee on energy and water, said the bill “rejects the President’s drastic, short-sighted cuts across the Department of Energy, Army Corps of Engineers, and the Bureau of Reclamation – all of which contribute to our nation’s economic prosperity.”
Democrats argue that budget cuts run counter to Republican calls for energy “innovation” as a solution to climate change, and have pressed Energy Secretary Rick PerryJames (Rick) Richard PerryOvernight Energy: States fight Trump rollback of Obama lightbulb rules | Greens seek hearing over proposed rule on energy efficiency tests | Top Dem asks GAO to investigate climate threat States fight Trump rollback of Obama lightbulb rules Overnight Energy: Trump moves forward with rule on California drilling | House panel advances bill that resumes participation in Paris climate fund | Perry pressed on ‘environmental justice’ | 2020 Dem proposes climate corps MORE to defend cuts that could inhibit the department from achieving its agenda.
“As you can imagine, many of these proposed cuts are nonstarters as far as I am concerned,” Rep. Bobby RushBobby Lee RushA crucial lesson from the carnage in Sri Lanka Congress should look into its own taxes and travel, not just Trump’s The Congressional Black Caucus: America stands to lose a lot under TrumpCare MORE (D-Ill.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy, told Perry at a hearing last week.
“These reductions would severely impact federally-funded investment in clean energy research and development, harming our economy and global status as leaders in these areas.”
Perry reiterated an argument that budget cuts did not indicate a lack of importance to the program.
“For too long, government success has been measured by how much we spend on it,” he said.
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The energy and water bill also included $665.7 million for the National Nuclear Security Administration, most of which is oriented toward nuclear weapons.
Outside of the EPA, the bills rejected several other elements of Trump’s budget proposal, including eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities. The new proposals allocated $167.5 million to each program, an increase of $12.5 million from current levels, and increased funding to a number of other arts programs that Trump proposed cutting.
Both bills will be marked up in subcommittee on Wednesday, and are expected to be taken up by the full committee as soon as next week.
The Senate, in the meantime, has not yet released any funding bills or set overall spending limits for appropriators.
Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyCrunch time for Senate disaster aid talks On The Money: New tariffs on China pose major risk for Trump | Senators sound alarm over looming budget battles | Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders team up against payday lenders Senate GOP grows frustrated with Trump chief of staff MORE (R-Ala.) said he is waiting for Democrats and Republicans to strike a deal with the White House on spending before writing bills, though he may forge ahead in early summer if they fail to strike a deal.
–Updated at 3:52 p.m.