VIDEO RELEASE: Newhouse Praises House Passage of Interior Appropriations Bill
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) released the following statement after the House approved H.R. 5538, the Fiscal Year 2017 Department of Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. This legislation provides annual funding for the Department of the Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Forest Service, the Indian Health Service, and various independent and related agencies. The measure reduces overall funding in the bill by $64 million below the FY 2016 level and $1 billion below the President’s request. Additionally, this legislation prohibits funding for implementation of the Waters of the United States Rule, cuts the Endangered Species Act listing budget by 23%, provides flexibility for states to implement new ozone standards, and funds critical wildfire mitigation, suppression, and response activities to address the threat posed by catastrophic wildfires.
“I applaud House approval of this fiscally-responsible legislation to stop federal regulatory overreach while providing for critical priorities for rural communities across the country and in Central Washington,” said Rep. Newhouse. “This legislation reins in the EPA by reducing overall funding, holds EPA to the lowest staffing level since 1989, and blocks spending on egregious federal rules such as WOTUS. I am pleased that my amendments were included to require the EPA to adhere to the law’s intended scope rather than expanding regulations to target farmers, to minimize livestock-losses from wolf predation, and to encourage federal agencies to move forward with rules to delist the gray wolf. My amendment with my colleague, Rep. Crawford, also reiterates the ban on lobbying by federal agencies in light of the recent violations related to What’s Upstream. Finally, this legislation provides necessary resources to fully fund wildfire suppression and hazardous fuels management as well as support for communities surrounded by federal lands.”
H.R. 5538 includes four amendments offered by Rep. Newhouse:
- To prevent the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) from expanding regulations under the Resources Conservation and Recovery Act of 1976 to target farmers, livestock producers, and dairies. The amendment would prohibit funding for the EPA to issue new regulations under the Solid Waste Disposal Act (42 U.S.C. 6901 et seq.) that apply to animal feeding operations. Agriculture is currently exempt from this law, and this amendment ensures the Agency does not circumvent Congress’s will.
- To restore funding for the “Wolf Livestock Loss Demonstration Program,” which assists livestock producers in undertaking proactive, non-lethal activities to reduce the risk of livestock loss from predation by wolves, and addresses livestock losses caused by wolves.
- To prohibit the U.S. Department of Interior and U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service from using any funds to continue treating the gray wolf under the Endangered Species Act after June 13, 2017. The amendment does not delist the gray wolf but encourages U.S. Fish & Wildlife to move forward with its own proposed delisting rule.
- An amendment offered by Rep. Newhouse and Rep. Rick Crawford (R-AR) to address the recent EPA-funded, anti-agriculture “What’s Upstream” lobbying campaign in Washington state. The amendment reiterates current law by prohibiting funds from being used in support of grassroots advocacy campaigns whose efforts are intended to persuade the outcomes of legislation in either Congress or other official in federal or state governments.
Newhouse initiatives contained in the underlying bill:
- Rep. Newhouse added language to the overall bill urging the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to finalize its proposal to delist recovered gray wolves range-wide, which is included on page 16 of the report.
- Rep. Newhouse requested funding for hazardous fuels management be prioritized to promote forest management and reduce the risk of forest fires. The overall bill includes $575 million for the program, which is $30 million above the Fiscal Year 2016 level.
Mr. Speaker, during consideration of this resolution all time yielded is for the purpose of debate only. I yield the customary 30 minutes to the lady from New York, Ms. Slaughter, pending which I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all members have five legislative days to revise and extend their remarks.
On Monday the Rules Committee met and reported a rule, House Resolution 820, providing for consideration of an important piece of legislation: H.R. 5538, the Fiscal Year 2017 Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act.
The rule provides for consideration of H.R. 5538 under a structured rule, which is a standard tool currently available under the rules of the House and previously used by Republicans and Democrats alike for consideration of appropriations bills. However, the Rules Committee received 178 amendments to this bill and undertook a long, arduous, and very open process to make as many of the amendments in order as possible. While 10 were withdrawn, out of the remaining 168 amendments, the Committee made 131 in order – almost equally divided among Republicans and Democrats – ensuring both sides of the aisle have the opportunity to offer their amendments and provide their input on this very important measure.
Mr. Speaker, the bill appropriates funding for the Department of the Interior, the EPA, the U.S. Forest Service, the Indian Health Service, and various independent and related agencies. This is a fiscally-responsible measure that appropriates $32.095 billion in discretionary spending – which is a $64 million decrease from Fiscal Year 2016 and a $1 billion reduction from the President’s request. While this bill respects our country’s current fiscal situation – where our national debt is approaching $20 trillion – it provides the means necessary to fund the Department of Interior and environmental programs that protect and promote our natural resources within a responsible, yet sustainable budget.
The legislation includes funding for many important priorities, such as the PILT program that provides funds for local governments in 49 states to help offset losses in property taxes due to non-taxable federal lands within their counties. Without congressional action, many rural communities would face huge budget shortfalls because of federal land ownership, which would impact public safety, education, and other local government responsibilities. The bill also rejects a White House proposal that would have raised fees on American ranchers for grazing on federal lands – which is another costly federal proposal that ranchers simply cannot afford. It allocates an increase for on-the-ground sage grouse conservation to protect the species, while also preserving federal lands for public and private uses, such as energy development, ranching, recreation, as well as military training. Finally, it provides the National Park Service with targeted funding increases for park operations and maintenance to help reduce the Park Service’s maintenance backlog, which currently stands at an astonishing $12 billion and we simply must address.
Mr. Speaker, H.R. 5538 also includes conservative policy provisions to stop the bureaucratic regulatory overreach that is harming the United States. Job creation and wage growth continue to be stifled by EPA and other federal regulations – and in response this bill denies funding for job-killing rules and contains provisions to stop the regulatory overreach that is restricting economic activity. Specifically, the bill reduces funding for the EPA by $164 million below the Fiscal Year 2016 level and $294 million below the President’s request. Within this total, EPA’s regulatory programs are reduced by $43 million from the current level. Additionally, it rejects the President’s proposal to increase staffing at the EPA and holds the Agency to the current capacity of 15,000 positions – which is the lowest level since 1989.
Over the past few years we have heard time and again about the EPA overstepping its authority – whether by lobbying for the misguided and unconstitutional WOTUS rule, or by providing funds to groups that openly advocate and lobby for anti-agriculture policies and legislation, which happened in my state of Washington with the illegal “What’s Upstream” campaign.
To hold the EPA accountable and stop its’ anti-growth agenda of numerous harmful, costly, and potentially job-killing regulations, the bill contains a number of legislative provisions to halt these actions.
Mr. Speaker, this legislation also includes language prohibiting the Forest Service or the BLM from issuing new closures of public lands to hunting and recreational shooting, which will preserve public access so that everyone can enjoy these American pastimes on our treasured federal lands and national forests. Further, the measure prevents the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from closing fish hatcheries – a key salmon recovery tool in the Pacific Northwest and in other parts of the country – and continues a one-year delay on any further Endangered Species Act status reviews, determinations, and rulemaking for the greater sage-grouse.
Additionally, H.R. 5538 provides critical funding for the Department of the Interior and the U.S. Forest Service to prevent and combat devastating wildfires. This is particularly important to me and the people of Washington State and Washington’s Fourth District. My state and much of the West have experienced catastrophic wildfire seasons over the last two years, with the state of Washington enduring back-to-back years of record-setting fires, which have been fueled by not only a lack of rainfall and extremely arid conditions, but also poor forest management. It also includes $575 million for hazardous fuels management, which is $30 million above the Fiscal Year 2016 level, and will help ensure our forests are cleared, healthy, and better prepared to withstand future wildfires – something that is badly needed, not only in Central Washington, but across the west as we head into another dry fire season.
Mr. Speaker, this is a good rule that provides for consideration of the FY2017 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill, which promotes the responsible use of our natural resources, provides the tools necessary to protect against and combat devastating wildfires, and invests in programs and infrastructure to improve the quality of life for families across the country. However, most importantly, this is fiscally-responsible bill that reflects the priorities of House Republicans in tackling our yearly deficits and out-of-control national debt. I think it strikes a smart balance, an intentional balance between funding essential programs and making responsible reductions to lower-priority activities to make sure we meet our tight-budget guidelines, which is why I urge my colleagues to support the rule and the underlying bill.
And I reserve the balance of my time.