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House GOP approves cutting EPA budget by nearly 40 percent

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Cesar Sirvent

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Nov 4, 2023, 1:05:04 AM11/4/23
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House Republicans approved legislation Friday that would slash
nearly 40 percent of the budget for the Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA).

The funding bill, passed by a 213-203 vote, cuts 39 percent of the
EPA’s budget and would be the smallest budget the agency has had in
three decades. Republican Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (Pa.), Mike Lawler
(N.Y.) and Marc Molinaro (N.Y.) voted against the bill, while
Democratic Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (Texas) was recorded as voting for
it.

Republicans have had longstanding complaints about the agency, which
takes on pollution, contamination and climate change, arguing that
it overreaches.

Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), who chairs the subcommittee that wrote
the bill, characterized the funding reductions it would deliver as
necessary to curtail Inflation and the national debt.

“Cutting funding is never easy or pretty, but with the national debt
in excess of $33 trillion and inflation at an unacceptable level, we
had to make tough choices to rein in federal spending,” Simpson said
on the floor Thursday.

The massive funding cut proposed by the GOP has virtually no chance
of becoming law in this year’s budget but marks a starting point in
negotiations for Republicans as they look to negotiate with
Democrats in the Senate on funding the government.

The bill is one of 12 annual government funding bills Republicans
hoped to have passed by a Nov. 17 deadline to prevent a shutdown.
However, Republicans face a challenge in staying unified on spending
as they look to approve the remaining five bills in the tight
window.

In addition to the top-line EPA cuts, the GOP bill would also
rescind provisions from the climate, tax and health care bill that
Democrats passed last year. It targets funding aimed at helping
underserved communities combat climate change and pollution.

It additionally seeks to defund the EPA’s efforts to curtail toxic
pollution and planet-warming emissions, preventing the agency from
using funding to enforce its rules on power plants.

Rep. Chellie Pingree (Maine), the top Democrat on the Interior-
Environment funding subcommittee, said the bill “debilitates
America’s ability to address the climate crisis and hobbles the
agencies within its jurisdiction.”

“I urge my colleagues to protect the world you are leaving to your
children and grandchildren and oppose the bill,” she said.

The bill would also deliver cuts, albeit less dramatic ones, to the
Interior Department, reducing its funding by about 4.5 percent. It
delivers a steeper cut of 13 percent to the National Park Service.

The legislation would also require the Biden administration pursue
drilling off the coast of Alaska, where the administration does not
currently plan to offer new oil lease sales. It would require the
administration to auction off the right to drill for oil there at
least twice a year and would also require twice-a-year-oil lease
sales in regions of the Gulf of Mexico.

The bill looks drastically different from its counterpart in the
Senate, which calls for $7 billion more in total funding than the
legislation passed in the House and was approved with overwhelming
bipartisan support in committee earlier this year.

The gap comes as no surprise, as House Republicans announced earlier
this year they would be marking up their fiscal 2024 government
funding plans below the budget caps deal struck between President
Biden and former Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) over the summer.

Hard-line conservatives had sought to dial up pressure on GOP
leadership to make further spending cuts.

The bill was expected to contain billions of dollars in additional
cuts as part of an intraparty agreement later in the summer to lock
down support from hard-line conservatives. Simpson is among the
appropriators who voiced frustration with the pressure campaign by
hard-liners at the time.

But Simpson and other top appropriators told The Hill in recent days
that they have been backing away from earlier plans to further big-
dollar cuts to the funding legislation, as conservatives have
signaled they’ll give Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) some breathing
room amid spending talks.

https://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/4291864-house-gop-
approves-cutting-epa-budget-by-nearly-40-percent/
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