The passage of a pair of appropriation bills on Thursday means the U.S. House has signed off on six of the 12 spending bills required to avoid a government shutdown.
In the end, 15 Republicans joined the entire Democrat House delegation in voting against the bill. Most of the Republicans voting against did so to protest an increase in spending levels.
The Senate is expected to take up their version of each bill next week along with the spending bills for Agriculture and Housing and Urban Development.
Republican House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen of New Jersey said in a statement posted on the committee website, “These bills fund vital programs across the federal government, including those that make Americans safer, protect our nation’s resources, and create jobs, especially in America’s small businesses. The package targets resources to programs that will help boost economic growth and opportunity, protect consumers and investors, promote an efficient federal court system, and help stop financial crime.”
Both chambers have until Oct. 1 to pass all 12 spending bills, work out differences in conference committees, and send them to the president for his signature to avoid another government shutdown. The latter of the two bills passed Thursday — for the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of the Interior — amount to $35.3 billion. The EPA will receive $7.96 billion, or $100 million less than its 2018 funding, but $2.2 billion more than President Donald Trump’s proposed budget.
The Interior portion of the bill — which includes funding for the National Park Service and Fish and Wildlife departments, would maintain their 2018 spending level at $13 billion, according to the House bill.
“The bill prioritizes funding to fight and prevente devastating wildfires, fulling funding the 10-year average for suppression costs,” Frelinghuysen said, according to The Hill. “The bill also targets critical resources to major infrastructure that will improve the lives of Americans, boosting funding to ensure communities have access to safe drinking water, and accelerates the cleanup of Superfund sites.”
Democrats, on the other hand, say the EPA bill cuts funding and rolls back the Clean Water Rule.
“Today, House Republicans passed an Interior-Environment appropriations bill that fails the American people,” said Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minnesota, ranking minority member of the Appropriations committee, in a statement on her website. “This bill cuts environmental protections; removes safeguards for our air, water, and endangered species; and allows rampant corruption at the Executive Branch to go unchecked.” Democrats were able to prevent defunding of grants for Environmental Justice, as well as the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
Environmental groups immediately called on the U.S. Senate to reject the House funding measure.
“We applaud members of Congress who stood up for children’s health and the outdoors by opposing this bill, and we’re disappointed in those who voted against our environment and public health,” said Christy Leavitt, Environmental Defense Campaign Director of Environment America, in a statement on the organization’s website. “We call on the Senate to reject the House bill and pass an Interior-Environment spending bill that fully funds programs to protect our families, climate, water and lands, and is free of anti-environmental riders.”
Thus far, no timeframe has been announced by the House as to when it will take up the remaining six appropriations bills.
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