House Passes EPA Spending Bill That Defunds Several Biden Climate Initiatives

The House of Representatives passed its sixth appropriations bill to fund certain government agencies related to the environment on Friday that would defund many of the Biden administration’s climate-change-focused initiatives.

The Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2024 allocates over $25 billion to fund conservation programs, agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management(BLM) and Environmental Protection Agency(EPA) as well as cultural promotion agencies such as the national endowments for the arts and humanities. After spending over 12 hours considering amendments to the bill on Thursday and Friday morning, the House passed the bill by a vote of 213 yeas to 203 nays, with all Democrats voting against the bill.

“In drafting this bill, we worked very hard to rein in federal spending while prioritizing critical needs within our Subcommittee’s allocation,” said Republican Rep. Mike Simpson of Idaho’s 2nd District, who introduced the bill, at a meeting of the House Appropriations Committee in July to consider the bill. “Cutting funding is never easy and it can often be an ugly, arduous process. But with the national debt in excess of $32 trillion and inflation at an unacceptable level, we must make tough choices to ensure we do not saddle our children and grandchildren with overwhelming debt.”

Amid widespread Republican opposition to the many climate change initiatives of the Biden administration, the House considered over 130 amendments on the floor to the bill, mostly from Republican members seeking to deny funds for these initiatives. Many of their amendments failed to pass due to bipartisan opposition.

Among the amendments passed by the House was a provision to deny funds for enforcing prohibitions on plastic straws, which was offered by Republican Rep. John Rose of Tennessee. Another such amendment, offered by Republican Rep. Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, denies the government funds to prevent domestic pollutants from adversely affecting foreign countries.

One amendment, by Republican Rep. Andy Ogles of Tennessee, denies funds to implement a provision of the Inflation Reduction Act(IRA) that raises minimum rents and royalties for oil and gas projects. Perhaps the most narrowly passed amendment was one advanced by Republican Rep. Chip Roy of Texas, which denies funds to implement any of President Joe Biden’s climate-change-focused executive orders, which was approved by one vote.

The bill has been opposed by Biden, whose administration released a statement indicating that he would veto it. “These levels would result in deep cuts to clean energy programs and other programs that work to combat climate change, essential nutrition services, law enforcement, consumer safety, education, and healthcare,” wrote the Office of Management and Budget about the bill’s funding levels, adding that it “include[s] billions in additional rescissions from the [Inflation Reduction Act] and other vital legislation.”

In parallel, the Senate has proposed a separate appropriations bill for these departments and agencies, which provides $19 billion more than the House bill and largely supports Biden’s environmental agenda, including $100 million for environmental justice programs, according to a press release from the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Arjun Singh on November 3, 2023

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