posted on July 31, 2013 14:56
Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives took initial steps Tuesday, July 30 toward slashing the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) budget by a third while blocking a central part of President Barack Obama's climate agenda.
The House Interior-Environment Appropriations Subcommittee voted 7-4 to send the full committee a $24.3 billion spending plan that would deliver a nearly 19 percent cut to the EPA and the Interior Department, going beyond the reductions agreed to under sequestration. The bill includes a 34 percent cut in the EPA's budget, leaving the agency $5.5 billion next year. Republican appropriators said they are forced to make such heavy cuts in discretionary spending because the White House and Congress have not made a deal to sufficiently reduce mandatory spending, such as entitlements.
The Interior-EPA bill is the first fiscal year 2014 spending plan "where push comes to shove in this budget cycle," House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) said July 30. The deeper cuts for Interior and the EPA stem at least partly from appropriators' decision to approve higher spending for programs like defense in earlier bills. But the new bill also allows Republicans to go after one of their favorite political targets: the EPA.
Republicans included a slew of riders that would block EPA actions, including the agency's proposals to control greenhouse gas emissions from power plants – a central part of Obama's plans to address climate change. The bill would also block the EPA from moving ahead with its proposed "Tier 3" rule on sulfur in gasoline or finishing its rule for cooling towers on power plants and major manufacturing facilities.
"There is a great deal of concern over the number of regulatory actions being pursued by agencies in the absence of legislation and without clear congressional direction," subcommittee Chairman Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) said. "This is especially true with the EPA."