The House passed legislation Tuesday that would modify the Endangered Species Act.

Passed 233-190, the bill would require federal agencies to publish data they use to determine whether a species should be designated as "endangered" or merely "threatened."

ADVERTISEMENT
It would also direct the federal government to provide states with data used to make a decision on an endangered species before it issues a final ruling.

Additionally, the measure would require the Interior Department to report annually to Congress on the amount of money and staff spent on lawsuits related to enforcing the Endangered Species Act, which has been in place since 1973.

Republicans said that making the data publicly available would result in a more transparent process.

"We need to make sure before we make some of these decisions that we have the facts," said Rep. Randy NeugebauerRandy NeugebauerCordray announces he's leaving consumer bureau, promotes aide to deputy director GOP eager for Trump shake-up at consumer bureau Lobbying World MORE (R-Texas). "When you're dealing with the facts, then I think we're going to have better outcomes."

But Democrats said the changes would only slow down the process of designating whether species are endangered.

"These bills will instead increase the amount of red tape," said Rep. Peter DeFazioPeter Anthony DeFazioOvernight Energy: Interior proposes cuts to two more monuments | Tribes, greens sue over Utah monument rollbacks Drone advocates press Congress to ease flight restrictions Overnight Regulation: House to vote on repealing joint-employer rule | EPA won't say which areas don't meet Obama smog rule | Lawmakers urge regulators to reject Perry plan MORE (D-Ore.).

Before final passage, the House rejected an amendment 204-215 from Rep. Rush HoltRush Dew HoltHouse Dem: Public should be 'more comfortable with science' ‘Secret law is a threat to democracy,’ Dems warn in letter to Obama House passes bill to amend Endangered Species Act MORE (D-N.J.) that would eliminate a provision automatically defining data submitted by state, local or tribal governments as the "best available science."

Democrats said that provision ignored the merits of the data.

"The quality of the information that state, tribal and local governments submit is irrelevant under this bill," said Rep. Jim MoranJim MoranDems face close polls in must-win Virginia Billionaire Trump donor hires lobbyists to help vets Lawmakers: Chaffetz has a point on housing stipend MORE (D-Va.). 

But Republicans said the Democratic amendment would prevent any data from being available altogether. 

"My colleagues keep fighting the transparency," Neugebauer said.

The Obama administration issued a veto threat against the measure due to concerns about the "best available" data provision and requiring agencies to post all data used in listing determinations.

"The administration strongly opposes H.R. 4315, which is a bill that would rigidly constrain science, public input, and data in making Endangered Species Act (ESA) determinations," the White House said in a statement of administration policy.