On September 9, Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) of the Appropriations Committee introduced a “clean” draft of a joint House and Senate Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the government funded until the end of the fiscal year (FY), September 30, 2014. Continuing Resolutions allow agencies to continue functioning using the previous year’s budget, for a set and limited amount of time – a clean CR refers to the fact that no amendments were added to the resolution. Passing a CR is necessary as Congress has just under two weeks left in the legislative calendar before recessing until after the Midterm elections. A CR also opens up the possibility of another government shutdown, since the CR expires on December 11th, after which either a new CR or all 12 separate appropriations bills must be passed.
Due to the CR, the appropriations bills passed in both Senate and House committees this summer will not be reflected in initial FY2015 spending. All of the House and Senate appropriations bills that passed through committee earlier this year have followed the spending levels set by the Murray/Ryan Budget, from budget committee chairs Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) and Representative Ryan (R-WI), in late 2013. Controversial appropriations amendments passed in the House typically result in a bill not passing through the Senate. However, since the Republican’s majority in the House is not expected to dramatically change after the mid-term elections, the FY2015 appropriations package reflects the House Majority’s priorities for FY2015 and beyond. Therefore, it is possible that some of these amendments could make their way into FY2016 appropriations bills.
Prior to the introduction of the draft CR, the House passed seven appropriations bills. The Senate did not vote on any of these bills, but the Senate appropriations committee passed eight appropriations bills of their own. Below is a list of some of the more controversial spending cuts and amendments to a variety of agencies’ appropriations for FY2015 proposed by the House. In general, the House majority has sought to cut funding or otherwise limit the federal government’s ability to conduct programs related to climate change or renewable energy, such as climate change monitoring, lowering greenhouse gas emissions, energy efficiency measures and renewable energy technologies.
On July 18, the House Appropriations Committee approved the FY2015 Department of Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies (HR 5171) appropriations bill on a 29-19 vote.
- Funds the Department of the Interior (DOI), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Agriculture (USDA) for the U.S. Forest Service, and other related agencies.
- Provides $30.2 billion for these agencies, which is $409 million below the President’s budget. As written, this bill would halt all funding for the EPA’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from new and existing power plants under Sections 111(b) and (d) of the Clean Air Act. Section 420 of the bill prohibits the ability to issue permits under Title V of the Clean Air Act for “carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide, water vapor, and methane emissions resulting from biological processes associated with livestock production,” while Section 421 of the bill prohibits funds from being used to report greenhouse gas emissions from manure management systems.
On July 10, the House passed the 2015 Energy and Water appropriations bill (HR 4923) with a bipartisan vote of 253-170.
- Funds some areas of national defense (such as atomic energy defense weapons activities, defense nuclear nonproliferation activities, defense environmental cleanup, etc.), the Army Corps of Engineers, certain programs under the Department of Energy (DOE), certain programs under the Department of the Interior, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and other related agencies.
- Provides $34 billion to these agencies, a $50 million reduction from the previous year and $327 million above the President’s request.
- Rep. Lankford (R-OK) introduced an amendment which passed 227 to191, that would prohibit the use of the Social Cost of Carbon (SCC), which is used by the federal government to estimate economic consequences of a climate change. By prohibiting the use of the SCC, climate considerations would not be taken into account in federal rulemaking.
- Rep. Cassidy (R-LA) proposed an amendment which passed 232 to187, that prohibits the use of a DOE report entitled, “Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Perspective on Exporting Liquefied Natural Gas from the United States.”
- Rep. Burgess (R-TX) introduced an amendment that would prohibit the implementation and enforcement of light bulb standards in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (Pub.L. 110-140). The amendment passed 226 to 193.
- Rep. Gosar (R-AZ) introduced a similar amendment to prohibit the use of high-efficiency or indoor water-efficient toilets, which passed on a voice vote. Rep. Gosar also introduced an amendment prohibiting the funding for DOE’s Climate Model Development and Validation program, which passed 226 to 194.
- Both Rep. Stockman (R-TX) and Rep. Weber (R-TX) introduced amendments related to offshore projects. Stockman’s amendment, which was adopted on a vote of 218 to204, would prohibit DOE from blocking offshore drilling permits and Weber’s amendment, which also passed, would block the controversial Cape Wind Project.
- Rep. Walberg (R-MI) introduced an amendment that would prohibit funding for a national media campaign in support of green technology, which passed on a voice vote.
- Rep. McKinley (R-WV) introduced an amendment that would cut federal funding for the United Nations, including funding for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Agenda 21 (non-binding sustainable development goals). Funding would also be cut for the National Climate Assessment (NCA), an effort of 13 federal agencies to quantify climate change in the United States, and the Social Cost of Carbon calculation. This amendment passed 229 to188. The same amendment was also passed on a voice vote as part of the Department of Defense Appropriations act (HR 4870).
Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2015 (HR 4870)
On June 20, the House passed the Defense appropriations bill (HR 4870) with a bipartisan vote of 340-73.
- Funds security requirements, military operations abroad, as well as programs to provide help regarding health and quality-of-life for those serving in the Armed Forces and their families.
- Provides $491 billion in discretionary funding, which is an increase from 2014 levels and $200 million above the President’s request.
- Passed with 52 amendments.
- Rep. McClintock (R-CA) included an amendment that would prohibit the military from funding green energy programs, which passed by voice vote.
- Rep. Flores (R-TX) introduced an amendment that would prohibit the military from using Section 526 of the Energy Independence and Security Act. Section 526 prohibits federal agencies from using fuel sources that have higher greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than conventional petroleum sources.
- Rep. McKinley (R-WV) introduced an amendment that cuts federal funding to United Nations climate programs as well as federal climate programs, which passed by a voice vote. (This amendment was also attached to the Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act).
On May 29, the House Appropriations Committee passed the Agriculture appropriations bill (HR 4800) on a 31-18 vote.
- Funds agricultural and food programs and services, including: product safety, health and nutrition programs, rural development and farm services, and marketplace oversight.
- Provides $142.5 billion overall, with $20.9 billion for discretionary spending, the same level of discretionary spending as was enacted in 2014.
Under the process known as Changes in Mandatory Program Spending (CHIMPS), the House bill would fund Energy Title programs at $89 million for FY 2015 -- down from the $147 million level provided in mandatory funding in the 2014 Farm Bill (a 39 percent cut). The cuts target three critical programs, with proposed funding levels as follows:
- Biomass Crop Assistance Program, which would be reduced from $25 million under the Farm Bill to $15 million;
- Rural Energy for America Program (REAP provides grants for renewable energy and energy efficiency improvements), would be reduced from $50 million in the Farm Bill to $30 million;
- Biorefinery, Renewable Chemical and Biobased Product Manufacturing Assistance program, would be reduced from $50 million in the Farm Bill to $22 million.
Author: Jenifer Collins
Editor: Jessie Stolark
- Department of Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2015 (HR 5171)
- Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2015 (HR 4923)
- Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2015 (HR 4870)
- Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2015 (HR 4800)