House appropriators released an Environmental Protection Agency spending bill Tuesday that drastically reduces the number of cuts proposed by President Trump but does support cutting the agency's staff by more than 3,000 people and rescinding regulations.
The bill funds the EPA at $1.9 billion above Trump's requested budget at $7.5 billion for fiscal 2018, which is $528 million less than the fiscal 2017 enacted level. Trump had proposed reducing the agency's budget by more than 31 percent, one of the biggest reductions among all federal agencies.
"This legislation responsibly supports the agencies and offices we rely on to preserve our natural resources for future generations, and prioritizes our limited funding to programs that protect environmental safety, such as the Chemical Safety Board," said House Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen, R-N.J. "Further, the committee's vigorous oversight has identified opportunities to rein in the federal bureaucracy and to stop many harmful and unnecessary regulations that destroy economic opportunity and hinder job creation."
Frelinghuysen, with other Republicans, has said that he cannot agree to many of the cuts that Trump has proposed for environmental programs, which his state relies on to ensure environmental cleanups continue and citizens are protected from contaminated industrial sites. Nevertheless, the GOP-backed spending bill agrees with Trump's budget request that 3,200 employees could be cut.
The committee said the bill supports the president's proposal "to reshape the agency's workforce by providing resources requested to offer buyouts and voluntary separation agreements to employees," a summary read.
"It also reflects the administration's goal to rein in outdated, unnecessary and potentially harmful regulations at the EPA," it said. "For example, it includes language authorizing the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency and the secretary of the Army to withdraw the Waters of the United States rule."
An Appropriations Committee Interior panel will mark up the bill Wednesday, as the full committee holds votes on a related energy and water spending bill that funds the Energy Department and other, related agencies.
"The agencies funded in the Interior and Environment Appropriations bill do important work protecting public lands, the air we breathe, and the water we drink," said Interior Subcommittee Chairman Ken Calvert, R-Calif. "Our subcommittee prioritized proven programs that have a meaningful impact to achieve these goals while also ensuring our economy can continue to grow. I'm particularly pleased that we were able to provide significant funding for our increasingly popular national parks and the clean diesel program, and ensure the development of the [Geological Survey] earthquake early warning system can continue."
The combined EPA and Interior funding sits at $31.4 billion, which is a $4.3 billion increase above the president's budget request, and an $824 million drop below fiscal 2017 enacted levels.
"These funds are targeted to important investments in the nation's natural resources, including $3.4 billion for the Department of the Interior and U.S. Forest Service to prevent and combat devastating wildfires," the committee said.