House appropriators took the first step in advancing major cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency in approving a $31.4 billion funding bill on Wednesday for the EPA and the Interior Department.
The bill would cut the EPA's budget for fiscal 2018 by $528 million, or 6.5 percent, slicing the agency much less than the 31 percent cuts proposed in President Trump's budget request.
The bill sends the agency's budget to where it was before former President Barack Obama was elected.
The bill was approved by voice vote in the interior and environment subcommittee, which advances it to the full committee.
Funding for fire prevention and other key services under the Interior Department were not removed, but the programs would receive tens of millions of dollars less than fiscal 2017 enacted levels.
Democrats said during the Wednesday markup that the spending bill includes a number of alarming policy riders, including those that would roll back endangered-species protections and clean air and water regulations.
The Fish and Wildlife Service, which designates endangered species, was funded at $1.5 billion, a $38 million drop below the fiscal 2017 level. It prioritizes funding to reduce the endangered species delisting and refuge maintenance backlogs, fight invasive species, and prevent illegal wildlife trafficking and the closure of fish hatcheries.
"The bill also continues a one-year delay on any further Endangered Species Act status reviews, determinations, and rulemakings for greater sage grouse," according to a bill summary.
A key chemical safety board that Trump had sought to terminate was funded at $11 million.
Overall, the spending the bill is $824 million below fiscal 2017 enacted levels and $4.3 billion above the president's request.