Citing Funding Cuts and Partisan Environmental Provisions, McCollum Opposes Interior-Environment Appropriations Bill
Congresswoman Betty McCollum, Ranking Member of the Interior-Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, led House Democrats in opposing the FY2017 Interior-Environment Appropriations bill as it was marked up in the House Appropriations Committee today.
The Interior-Environment Appropriations bill provides funding for important programs vital to protecting our nation’s natural and cultural resources, including the Department of the Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Smithsonian Institution. Despite the importance of these agencies, the Republican majority cut the overall funding for the bill by $64 million overall, and targeted the EPA for particularly damaging cuts by slashing $164 million from current year funding.
“Within a constrained topline number, difficult choices had to be made,” Congresswoman McCollum said. “Sadly, the majority chose to cut important programs that protect the American public and conserve our natural resources.”
In addition to the funding cuts, the Republican majority included 33 partisan provisions that pander to the special interests’ of polluters instead of prioritizing the public health and safety of the American people. Republicans rejected Congresswoman McCollum’s amendment to remove these divisive and harmful riders from this critical funding legislation.
“These veto-bait provisions seek to turn back protections for endangered species, prevent our country from controlling greenhouse gas emissions, and undermine clean water and clean air protections,” Congresswoman McCollum said. “I cannot support a bill that includes these measures.”
House Republicans also rejected an amendment offered by Congresswoman McCollum in committee that would have provided emergency funding to repair the failing water infrastructure that has caused a crisis for so many families in Flint, Michigan.
Despite the bill’s many shortcomings, Congresswoman McCollum offered her appreciation to subcommittee Chairman Ken Calvert for his bipartisan approach to issues important to Native Americans and several provisions that benefit National Parks. Congresswoman McCollum was also able to resurrect the Save America’s Treasures program, last funded in 2010, which restores the structures, sites, and artifacts that are our nation’s cultural and historical legacy.
“I am proud of this subcommittee’s non-partisan approach to addressing issues facing our Native American brothers and sisters,” Congresswoman McCollum said. “Other bright spots in the bill include continued support for the National Park Service’s Centennial Initiative, funding for the Civil Rights Initiative that aids Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and strong support for the Save America’s Treasures program.”
The bill also includes direction to the U.S. Forest Service to move forward on the first phase of a purchase of Minnesota school trust lands that are currently located within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.
“For decades, a dilemma has existed over how to deal with these lands, but the state of Minnesota, the Forest Service, and stakeholders from all sides have finally come together on a collaborative, hybrid model,” Congresswoman McCollum said. “We are directing the Forest Service to move forward on the purchase included in this agreement, to capitalize on this moment of collaboration, and to fulfill their long-standing obligation to deal with the state lands in this federal wilderness.”