Budget cutting
Determined to smash the Environmental Protection Agency any way they can, Republicans on the Appropriations Interior and Environment subcommittee voted along party lines Tuesday to chop $2.9 billion off the agency's 2014 budget, leaving it with $5.5 billion next year. The 35 percent cut in H.R. 1582 would leave spending for EPA at what it was more than 35 years ago. The spending bill introduced by subcommittee chairman Mike Simpson of Idaho also includes a big tub of restrictions on climate change initiatives by the agency. President Obama has vowed to veto the bill if it arrives on his desk in its current form.

Simpson stated in a press release:

“This Administration's appetite for new regulations and disregard for the will of Congress have left us with little choice but to block his climate change agenda in this bill. The actions we've taken to address the EPA’s overreach and reduce its budget not only help us meet the tight spending constraints under which we're operating, they help our struggling economy and encourage job creators to invest and expand.”
The subcommittee's ranking Democrat, Jim Moran of Virginia, walked out of the mark-up session, calling the cuts a "disgrace" and saying they should be an embarrassment to the subcommittee, the full committee and to Congress as a whole.” He added that the bill would cut the budget for EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy's own office by 20 percent.

The subcommittee's mark-up is only the first step in a proposal that is likely to change significantly as it works its way through the full Appropriations Committee, which is slated to discuss the bill next week, as well as the full House and the Senate.

Simpson and other Republicans argued that the real issue behind these cuts is government spending in general, or overspending as they call it. Blame was put on the Obama administration for not meeting Republican objections to spending in social programs, including Social Security, Medicare, unemployment insurance, food stamps and others. Gutting New Deal and Great Society programs has been one of the party's key objectives for decades.

But the Republicans' budgetary assault on the EPA is not mere theater or an attempt to gain leverage. They really mean it.

Appropriations ranking member Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) noted that the GOP plan would give the EPA the same funding levels it saw during the Reagan administration and said clean water and safe drinking water revolving loan funds would be cut by 83 percent and 61 percent, respectively. “Unfortunately, this bill’s disastrous levels and atrocious riders exemplify that the road to redemption is long for this committee,” Lowey said.
Once, what seems a zillion years ago, there were Republicans who supported clean air and clean water.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Thu Jul 25, 2013 at 11:10 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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