This Week in the Congress

by Myron Ebell on July 31, 2011

in Blog

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The Bright Side of the Debt Ceiling Deal

Elana Schor in Greenwire (reprinted by the New York Times here) on Thursday reported that the debt ceiling deal still being worked out between House Republicans and Senate Democrats will almost certainly cut funding drastically for years to come for the Environmental Protection Agency and the Departments of the Interior and Energy.  Schor quotes a number of Democrats who oppose cutting spending on environmental programs, but doesn’t quote anyone on the obvious point: the federal government is broke and isn’t going to be able to afford a lot of things for many years.

While we will have to wait to see how severe the cuts will be, the Fiscal Year 2012 Interior and EPA Appropriations bill is still being debated on the House floor.  According to Schor, environmental pressure groups have had little time to focus on the debt ceiling debate because they have been working overtime to try to undo some of the 38 or so riders in the appropriations bill that put limits on EPA and Interior.  At the same time, Republicans are trying to add more riders to stop implementation of new regulations proposed by the Obama Administration.

Whether the House finishes the Interior-EPA Appropriations bill before departing for the August recess depends on how long it takes to reach an agreement on the debt ceiling.  If they wrap it up this weekend, then the House and Senate will probably both leave town immediately.  If they have to keep going next week, then the House will probably have time to finish the appropriations bill.

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