U.S. House Budget

By Libby Casey

House Republicans are in the midst of pushing through the largest spending cuts of the modern era.  They’re rolling through hundreds of amendments, related to everything from cutting public broadcasting to cutting funds for the federal health care law.

Congressman Don Young has proposed a couple of amendments, and both have won victories.  One threw out language that would have cut funding for Alaska Native education programs.

The other passed Friday would cut the legs out from under a neutral appeals board that reviews and sometimes rejects permits issued by the Environmental Protection Agency.

Young says the Environmental Appeals Board holds up permits for development in places like the Arctic Ocean.  He railed against the appeals board on the House floor:

Mr Speaker I must say this is an example of a agency trying to issue permits correctly, but has board that can listen to someone who objects to it who rules against them. We’ve had a little over 680 leases in the Arctic Ocean.  Oil that we need, being held up by bureaucrats.

But Virginia Democrat James Moran argued against Young’s amendment.  He pointed out that the board is the final decision-maker on appeals made to environmental statutes, and works independently as a part of the system of checks and balances.

It’s an impartial body, independent of all agency components outside the immediate office of the Administrator.  To support this amendment is to take away people’s right to petition their government.  This is an impartial board that looks out for the regular citizen.

Despite Moran’s arguments, Young’s amendment passed 243 to 185.

Young’s office says it’s gotten a lot of calls this week from Alaskans concerned about cuts to public broadcasting.  The Republican budget would slash its funding.  A Democrat’s amendment to restore funding was thrown out for technical reasons…. But Young’s spokeswoman says he would have supported the effort to restore  funding, had it made it to the floor.

Republicans have passed amendments cutting funding for Planned Parenthood, the health care law, and for enforcing a variety of environmental laws.

The House is expected to pass this budget, or “Continuing Resolution.”  That doesn’t make it law… it has to go to the Senate, where Democratic leaders will challenge much of what House Republicans did.

If the House and Senate don’t pass some version of a Continuing Resolution in the next two weeks, the government will shut down on March 4th.

The budget the House is working on is this year’s budget, which is different than what President Obama proposed earlier this week – his numbers are for next year.


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