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 McCollumOvernight Energy: Interior watchdog opens investigation into new secretary | Warren unveils 2020 plan to stop drilling on public lands | Justices reject case challenging state nuclear subsidies | Court orders EPA to re-evaluate Obama pollution rule Interior watchdog launches ethics probe into new secretary EPA chief doubles down on Trump's commitment to fully fund Great Lakes program 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 RogersMomentum for earmarks grows with Dem majority On The Money: GOP shrugs off Trump shutdown threat | Trump warns Japan ties could sour over trade | US businesses add 163k workers in August | House GOP huddles on 'tax cut 2.0' GOP shrugs off Trump shutdown threat 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.