Proposed Trump EPA cuts divide GOP appropriators

Proposed Trump EPA cuts divide GOP appropriators
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Key Republicans were cautious Tuesday about reports of the Trump administration’s proposal to deeply cut the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) budget.

GOP members of the appropriations panel that sets the agency’s spending levels said they haven’t seen an official budget outline from the White House.

Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) was skeptical of a plan to cut a reported 24 percent out of the EPA’s $8.1 billion annual budget. 

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“I’d like to look and seen what actually gets out of committee,” Cole said.

“EPA has been cut by over 20 percent in the last few years. The discretionary budget has been lowered pretty dramatically compared to how it was in 2009, and it's under what Paul RyanPaul RyanTougher Russia sanctions bill facing another setback CNN's Kohn, Ben Shapiro in Twitter spat after controversial 'killing spree' Ryan tweet Ryan: 'Prayers are being answered' for Scalise's recovery MORE thought it would be in his budget.”

But Rep. Hal Rogers (R-Ky.), a former Appropriations Committee chairman and frequent critic of the EPA, said the reported cuts are “in the neighborhood” of what he would like to see at the EPA. 

“I think they’ve overreached by a zillion points,” he said. “They’ve overreached their authority, as the courts have held, and the regulations they’ve imposed on American business have killed thousands of jobs, and they need to be reined back in severely."

Trump is reportedly considering slashing $2 billion from the EPA’s annual budget and cutting staffing at the agency by one-fifth. If he follows through on the plan — and convinces Congress to play along — spending and employment at the agency would fall to levels not seen since the Reagan administration. 

His proposed cut is significantly deeper than those advanced by House appropriators in the past. 

In 2015, Republicans on the panel aimed to cut the agency’s budget by $718 million, and last year they proposed a $164 million cut. As Trump is reportedly considering, those spending plans took aim at EPA climate and regulatory programs expanded under President Obama.

Rep. Ken Calvert (R-Calif.), the chair of the EPA subpanel, said of Trump's plan, “I have not seen any numbers coming out of the White House yet, so I have nothing to comment on.” 

Democrats are likely to resist the spending plan. Rep. Betty McCollum (Minn.), the ranking Democrat on the EPA spending committee, tweeted Tuesday that she opposes the proposal, “which [will] put the health and safety of American families at risk.”