WASHINGTON – Minnesota Rep. Betty McCollum is pushing back on the GOP-led fiscal year 2018 Interior-Environment Appropriations bill.
McCollum, the ranking member of the House Interior-Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, is leading the Democrats in resisting the spending bill, saying the funding level is “too low” and a “step backwards.”
“The Interior-Environment jurisdiction includes important activities that keep our families safe from pollution, conserve our natural resources, preserve our history, and foster the cultural life of our nation,” McCollum said in a statement. “House Republicans’ bill cuts these critical efforts, endangering our nation’s natural and cultural resources.”
The $31.4 billion spending bill for the Interior Department and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cuts spending by $824 million. The EPA’s budget is hit the hardest, facing a 6.5 percent cut totalling $528 million. McCollum called the cuts to the EPA’s budget “alarming” and an endangerment to “natural and cultural resources.”
“If enacted, the cuts in this bill will further undermine the EPA’s ability to keep our families and communities healthy and to protect our environment for future generations,” McCollum said. “These cuts will even weaken the basic enforcement that keeps deadly toxins out of our air and water.”
Despite the cuts to the EPA’s budget, McCollum praised some elements of the bill.
“While I strongly oppose the bill’s cuts, I am pleased that it rejects some of the Trump administration’s worst proposals,” McCollum said in her opening statements during the Appropriations Committee markup. “I am very pleased that the bill recommends an increase of $106 million for programs critical to Indian Country, including new resources that will help meet pressing education, health care, and criminal justice needs. The bill also continues funding for important grant programs within the National Park Service’s Historic Preservation Fund.”
Despite McCollum’s opposition to the spending cuts, the bill advanced out of the committee on a 31-20 vote. In a tweet following the vote, McCollum promised to “keep working to improve” the bill as it moves to the House floor.
“Refusing to fund the work needed to protect the public health and our environment is short-sighted and reckless,” McCollum said. “But that is exactly what is proposed in this bill.”