Spending bill blocking EPA regulations heads to the House floor

Spending bill blocking EPA regulations heads to the House floor
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The House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday advanced a $32.1 billion spending bill for the Interior Department and environment programs, sending a bill laden with policy riders to the House floor. 

The bill cuts $64 million from current sending levels and would block a handful of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules. 

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It would cut the EPA’s budget by $164 million, which is a smaller cut than Republicans have pursued in the past. But the spending bill blocks a handful of regulations — Democrats counted 33 policy riders on the bill — that Democrats say will hurt environmental programming. 

“The number and outrageous nature of the riders in this bill pander to special interests at the expense of the public good,” Rep. Betty McCollumBetty Louise McCollumHouse lawmakers vote to give modest budget cuts to EPA, Interior How the embassy move widens the partisan divide over Israel Five takeaways from Pruitt's big testimony MORE (D-Minn.) said at the Appropriations Committee’s mark-up on Wednesday. 

The bill blocks a host of rules, including those setting carbon limits on power plants, protecting streams from coal mining waste, regulating methane emissions and defining bodies of water under the EPA’s purview. 

The Appropriations Committee adopted an amendment on Wednesday blocking a rule on offshore oil drilling, among others, and it rejected Democratic efforts to pull back the riders. 

“The EPA’s regulatory agenda is not working, certainly not for coal mining communities, American businesses and industries, or for hard-working Americans who rely on having good jobs and reasonable energy bills to take care of their families,” said Rep. Hal RogersHarold (Hal) Dallas RogersThe Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — Tensions mount for House Republicans Koch-backed group to target some Republicans over spending vote in new ad campaign Sadly, fiscal restraint is no longer a core principle of the GOP MORE (R-Ky.), the chairman of the Appropriations Committee.

The full bill is $1 billion less than what President Obama requested in his budget. It bumps funding for clean water and drinking water state grant programs, directs the U.S. Forest Service to spend up to half its funding on wildfire prevention and suppression and cuts funding for the Fish and Wildlife Service. 

The bill was sent to the floor on a 31-18 vote. The House has not passed the Interior and Environment spending bill for several years; last year's version fell apart on the floor amid a debate over the display of Confederate flags at national cemeteries.