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GOP fails to pass budget rider to slash energy funding by 10 percent

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The House marked up a $789 billion fiscal 2018 spending bill. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

A Republican amendment to cut 10 percent of funding from the Energy Department and other agencies' budgets failed to pass by voice vote Wednesday night as the House marked up a $789 billion fiscal 2018 spending bill.

Rep. Paul Mitchell, R-Mich., proposed the amendment, saying "paying lip service" is not enough to cut the cost of government. "Talk is cheap."

The Mitchell amendment would cut 10 percent of the general administrative expense accounts for the Army Corps of Engineers, Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works, Department of the Interior, and Department of Energy. That money would then be transferred to the federal Spending Reduction Account.

But the amendment came up against opposition from both Republican and Democrats. Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, was the first to speak out in opposition. Simpson is the chairman of the Appropriations Committee's energy and water panel. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio, the top Democrat on the energy panel, seconded the opposition to the Mitchell amendment.

Simpson said he wasn't convinced the amendment would do what Mitchell said it would do. In fact, Simpson said no one knows the impacts of the across-the-board cuts. It "would also place at risk cybersecurity" of these agencies by targeting these administrative cuts.

Kaptur said the best approach to reduce cost is to grow the economy. These accounts produce jobs and revenue by improving ports, roads and transportation infrastructure. This amendment is a "penny wise and a pound foolish," she said.