Saturday, March 25, 2023

$32B for Interior Department and EPA spending bill faces veto threat

By on July 13, 2016

WASHINGTON (AP) — A divided House is about to pass a $32 billion spending bill for the Interior Department and environmental regulations as Congress prepares to exit Washington for a seven-week recess, but the move seems to do little to advance GOP leaders’ hopes of fixing the Capitol’s shattered budget process.

The measure, laced with a wish-list of GOP provisions to roll back Obama administration clean air and water regulations, faces a White House veto threat. Its advance comes as the GOP-controlled Congress is about to take a vacation extended by unusually early national political conventions.

GOP efforts to revive the annual budget process hang by a thread, pointing to yet another take-it-or-leave-it trillion-dollar-plus bill this fall to keep the government open weeks before the election.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is expected to call re-votes Thursday on both Pentagon and Zika measures (AP / J. Scott Applewhite)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is expected to call re-votes Thursday on both Pentagon and Zika measures (AP / J. Scott Applewhite)

The House measure, likely to pass late Wednesday, is red meat for conservatives seeking to take a whack at the Environmental Protection Agency but its passage would run into a veto threat from President Barack Obama and a certain filibuster from Senate Democrats.

The Interior and EPA funding bill is part of the $1 trillion-plus budget for day-to-day agency operations. In the past, Congress has devoted much of the spring and summer to passing the 12 individual spending bills, but divided government between the Obama administration and Republicans controlling Congress has produced lowest-common-denominator catchall spending bills that offend both right and left.

The House measure would block EPA rules on coal-fired power plants and clean water rules involving coal operations. The Obama administration has successfully used veto threats to strip such provisions in the past.

Meanwhile, Senate Democrats are poised to vote Thursday to again block bills to finance the fight against the Zika virus and fund the Pentagon for the upcoming budget year. The Zika measure has been hung up over Democratic objections to GOP language that would block Planned Parenthood clinics in Puerto Rico from receiving money to fight the virus.

At the same time, Senate Democrats have blocked action on a huge Pentagon spending bill over a move by House Republicans to use accounting moves to add $18 billion to the measure. Democrats say the GOP move would unravel last year’s hard-fought budget deal, which reversed curbs on both Pentagon and domestic accounts.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is expected to call re-votes Thursday on both the Pentagon and Zika measures.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login