Vote Explanation for H.R. 5538 — Fiscal Year 2017 Interior, Environment & Related Agencies Appropriation Act
H.R. 5538, the Department of Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2017, provides $32.1 billion to the Department of the Interior, the agency that oversees the National Park Service, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and others. Unfortunately, this legislation sets woefully insufficient funding levels for the agencies tasked with protecting our natural resources and the environment.
Over three days, the House considered 131 amendments and only a paltry number of democratic amendments were accepted. These amendments would have done things like ensure that the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Superfund, which provides funding for the cleanup of hazardous waste, is maintained at the highest level, and that the Department of Interior and EPA are able to enact policies related to adapting to climate change.
The total amount of funding appropriated for these agencies would be $1.02B less than the level requested by the President and unsurprisingly, EPA would be allocated $164 million less than last year’s appropriated levels.
While many of my colleagues across the aisle will often make reasoned arguments about the impact of government regulation on businesses, that caliber of argument was absent from the debate over this bill, which cut the Clean Water Revolving Loan Fund by $349 million compared to last year’s levels. This fund ensures access to clean drinking water, something of grave importance, as was made all-too clear by the state of emergency regarding the water quality in Flint, Michigan.
This legislation bill also undermines the Endangered Species Act and the ability of the Bureau of Land Management to set standards for the use of federal lands. For these reasons, I strongly opposed this bill, which the President will veto.