House panel approves $31.4B Interior, EPA funding bill

House panel approves $31.4B Interior, EPA funding bill
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A House panel on Wednesday approved a $31.4 billion bill funding the Interior Department and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the first step toward moving the legislation to the floor.

An Appropriations Committee subpanel quickly approved the legislation on Wednesday, sending the bill to the full committee for consideration.

The bill would slash the EPA’s budget by $528 million, or 6.5 percent, next year, a cut that would send the agency’s funding to 2008 levels, but far smaller than the $2.6 billion cut President Trump had sought.

Lawmakers also cut spending for the Interior Department and programs like the Land and Water Conservation Fund, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Geological Survey. None of the cuts were close to the levels Trump envisioned in his budget proposal.

The bill overall spends $824 million less than 2017 levels, and is $4.3 billion higher than Trump’s budget.

“Preserving the natural resources for future generations is a responsibility we all share,” Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney FrelinghuysenRodney Procter FrelinghuysenBudget vote raises red flag for GOP on tax reform WH seeks to cut back spending as disaster relief spending mounts House advances .5 billion disaster funding without offsets MORE (R-N.J.) said.

The bill “prioritizes the limited funding for programs that protect the environment with a responsible, sustainable budget.”

Democrats, though, indicated their opposition to the bill, with ranking member Betty McCollum (Minn.) saying its funding levels are “too low” and “a step in the wrong direction."

“I believe everyone on this committee values clean air and clean water,” she said. "Our differences are not in this goal, but in what we are willing to invest to achieve it.”

The Appropriations Committee has not yet scheduled a full mark-up for the bill.