House Democrats urge more conservation, transportation funds in reconciliation package

House Democrats urge more conservation, transportation funds in reconciliation package
© Greg Nash

House Democrats, including Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raúl Grijalva (Ariz.), warned Monday that the Senate’s current $3.5 trillion budget resolution has insufficient funding for what they called key transportation and conservation agenda items.

“Regardless of how much good work this resolution does in other areas, you can’t spin away the fact that it doesn’t offer the Interior Department enough money to meet some of our critical climate goals, including pressing needs like drought mitigation throughout the West,” Grijalva said in a statement.

In a separate interview with The Hill, Grijalva spoke of the need for more funding to resolve tribal issues and water infrastructure projects.

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“I think those are all missed opportunities,” he said. “I understand the direction [of the budget resolution], but it’s not an either/or direction.”

Grijalva added that he and allies had been “publicly and privately advocating for something more substantial ... and so we’ll continue that effort.”

“I don’t think I’m alone in this. I think there’s a number of colleagues in Congress and also organizations and tribes that see the role that resources can and should play in dealing with the climate crisis,” he said.

Grijalva added that after he and like-minded colleagues had entered “one confrontation after another” with the Trump administration over Interior resources, “we felt that we were going into a thing where there will be a deeper understanding” on conservation goals.

Grijalva commended the resolution’s funding for renewable energy and electric vehicle technology but said more immediate action is needed for the environmental disasters currently ravaging parts of the U.S., including heat waves and wildfires. He called on Congress to give Interior Secretary Deb HaalandDeb HaalandOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by the League of Conservation Voters — EPA finalizing rule cutting HFCs Haaland calls for attention for slain Indigenous women amid Petito case Haaland calls for 'balance' in federal oil and gas program MORE and the agencies within her department the resources to combat such crises.

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Separately, Democratic Reps. Debbie DingellDeborah (Debbie) Ann DingellThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Alibaba - Democrats stare down 'hell' week Dingell fundraises off Greene altercation on Capitol steps Greene heckles Democrats and they fire back on Capitol steps MORE (Mich.) and Yvette ClarkeYvette Diane ClarkeFrederica Wilson rails against Haitian deportation flights, calls treatment 'inhumane' Democratic anger grows over treatment of Haitian migrants WHIP LIST: How House Democrats say they'll vote on infrastructure bill MORE (N.Y.) led 26 members of their caucus in urging Democratic leaders to ensure the resolution includes $85 billion for electric vehicle charging infrastructure. The current bipartisan agreement would not be sufficient to develop a charging network across the country, they wrote.

“As we make this transition to a zero-emission vehicle future, equity must be front and center in how we build out a nationwide charging network,” the Democrats said. “Our current transportation sector is inequitable and unjust, and we cannot allow ourselves to repeat the mistakes of our past. Unless we are intentional in our actions, the communities that have the most to gain from an electrified transportation sector will also be among the last and least to partake in its benefits.

The budget resolution, unveiled Monday morning, includes funds for Interior Department programs after House Democrats, including Grijalva, pushed back against their exclusion. Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiManchin cast doubt on deal this week for .5T spending bill Obama says US 'desperately needs' Biden legislation ahead of key votes Congress shows signs of movement on stalled Biden agenda MORE (D-Calif.) has said the House will take up the Senate's bipartisan infrastructure measure only if it is sent alongside a reconciliation package.