House Republicans still have a couple chances to rein in the EPA.
Environment and Energy Daily reports,
A massive 2012 spending bill that covers the Transportation and Agriculture departments as well as several science agencies is set to clear the House tomorrow, but whether the vote bodes well for bipartisan accord on long-term government funding without a continuing resolution (CR) remains to be seen.
The “minibus” measure reflects the $1.043 trillion ceiling for 2012 discretionary spending that both parties agreed to as part of August’s debt deal while extending current federal funding through Dec. 16 (E&E Daily, Nov. 15).
Yet that deadline now looms large for negotiators who are likely to face the same vote-hemorrhaging pressures that risked a government shutdown in September and April: conservatives who want deeper cuts than GOP leaders endorsed and Democrats who might back the debt-deal ceiling but oppose policy riders — including hot-button environmental limits — that Republicans plan to pursue.
Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), the chief House appropriator for U.S. EPA and the Interior Department, said yesterday that House GOP and Senate Democratic aides are still meeting to hash out the details of a potential funding pact, including overall spending numbers and “which riders survive” in a final bill.
“Remember, they have riders in their bill too,” Simpson said of Senate Democrats, who left out EPA policy provisions in the appropriations bill they released last month but included a handful that affect wilderness and offshore drilling.
That measure is not expected to see stand-alone action but remains a ripe candidate for inclusion in a third minibus to follow tomorrow’s agriculture-transportation measure and an energy spending bill currently stalled in the Senate (E&E Daily, Oct. 20). “There will be another minibus,” Simpson predicted. “The question is whether there will be one or two” more.
The Idahoan added that the Interior-EPA measure could hitch a ride on a defense appropriations bill long considered must-pass. But the introduction of more minibus measures does not guarantee that this week’s expected passage of the agriculture-transportation spending plan would be the first of several funding bills to codify the $1.043 trillion ceiling agreed to in August.
One reason for the uncertainty is widespread Democratic resistance to riders affecting EPA, health care reform, and other big-ticket Obama administration priorities.
“I don’t have any predictions” for how the Dec. 16 deadline to continue funding the government would play out, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) said yesterday, “but I think Republicans would be tying this thing up in knots if they tried to put in riders.”
House Republicans mus rein in the EPA now. It is not acceptable to cave.