Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Water and Wildlife Subcommittee Chairman, and other EPW Committee members released the following statement in response to the passage of H.R.1, the Republican budget proposal, through the House of Representatives early today.
H.R. 1, or the House Continuing Resolution (CR), undermines public health protections and slashes the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) budget for infrastructure investment and public health safeguards by nearly one-third below fiscal year 2010. Important pollution prevention programs under the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act are among those targeted.
Senator Cardin said: "The House bill is a non-starter. It represents a wholesale assault on the quality of our water and the air we breathe. It tries to roll back the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act and the other laws that have brought Americans unprecedented health and economic benefits for the last 40 years. Instead, we need a credible path forward for America that will tackle our debt while also making smart investments that help create the jobs of the future."
Senator Boxer said: "In these tough economic times, we know we have to reduce spending, but we must do it in a way that protects jobs and the health of our communities. The House CR is an irresponsible attack on the nation's landmark environmental and public health laws. The Republican bill slashes funding for critical programs that for decades have protected our children from dangerous pollution. House Republicans are also using the CR as a backdoor way to legislate against programs they don't like. The budget bill, if enacted, would undermine the EPA's ability to safeguard us from pollution in the air and water."
Senator Thomas Carper (D-Del.) said:"As our nation faces a mushrooming deficit and budget crisis, my colleagues and I agree that some cuts to federal spending are needed to bring our nation's fiscal house in order. However, Congress cannot be pennywise and pound foolish as we look for ways to reduce federal spending. Unfortunately many of the cuts approved today by House Republicans as part of their funding bill jeopardize the health of Delawareans and Americans across the country. The cost of future health problems and lives lost will undoubtedly surpass any short-term savings derived from these cuts.
"The EPA's clean air programs have repeatedly shown huge returns for the initial investment, easing the costs of pollution damage and the long-term harmful toll on health caused by that pollution. Clean air and water give all of us a chance to have a healthier life and future. These EPA regulations protect us from air pollution that not only costs this country billions in lost revenues and health care expenses, but kills thousands every year. Efforts to clean our air are also good for our economy, creating much needed jobs in manufacturing, installing, and operating modern pollution control technology and producing clean energy. Over the years, we've made great strides to reduce our nation's air pollution and save lives, but more can be done. Unfortunately, some of my colleagues in the House and the Senate want to make drastic cuts, putting hundreds of thousands of lives at risk every day. These proposed cuts are short-sighted and politically driven, and neglect the health and well-being of Delawareans and Americans."
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) said: "While we've sought common ground to reduce spending and stave off a U.S. government shutdown, House Republicans have piled on to their risky and reckless attack on jobs an additional attack on the Clean Air Act, which for decades has protected the air we breathe from industrial pollution."
Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR.) said: "The top priority of the American people is to create jobs. The top priority of the House Republicans seems to be waging an ideologically driven effort against programs they don't like. Making our air and water dirtier will not solve our budget problems and it will not put Americans back to work. It will just jeopardize the health of our children and communities."