Ranking Member DeLauro Floor Remarks in Opposition to the 2024 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Funding Bill
Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-03), Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee, delivered the following remarks on the House Floor in opposition to H.R. 4821, the 2024 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies bill:
Thank you to the gentlelady, and also Chairman Simpson and Ranking Member Pingree, for your work on this legislation. I would also like to thank the majority and minority staff, particularly Rita Culp, Jocelyn Hunn, and Farouk Ophaso.
When it comes to caring for the environment – ensuring our air is safe to breathe, our water is safe to drink, and we are resilient in a changing climate – this bill takes the side of the most egregious polluters and climate-deniers. This legislation stakes an aggressive anti-environment stance, with a crippling 39 percent cut to the Environmental Protection Agency. The ensuing collapse of our means of protecting the environment and public health would mean more asthma cases, more cancer diagnoses, and more unmitigated natural disasters afflicting American families.
I would like to share a portion of a letter sent to members of this body from the League of Conservation Voters, and cosigned by 61 environmental organizations, including the Trust for Public Land and the National Parks Conservation Association. They said, of this bill, and I quote:
“Following a summer full of record heat waves, horrific flooding, and wildfire smoke blanketing much of the nation, this bill would gut the agencies charged with protecting our environment and our health and would massively undermine last year’s historic climate legislation, the Inflation Reduction Act. It would also introduce an onslaught of extreme anti-environmental policy mandates that have no place in the appropriations process. This attack on our health, lands, wildlife, biodiversity, air, water, oceans, and communities is unacceptable and must be rejected.” End quote.
The bill cuts the EPA’s Clean Air Program by at least $200 million and eliminates funds for environmental justice. It cuts the EPA’s infrastructure grant programs by a staggering $1.8 billion. These are not numbers on a page. We are talking about the air in our skies and in our lungs. This is the water we drink, bathe in, and cook with. These are basic life necessities that we have a simple obligation to protect for the American people.
In addition to endangering the global climate and public health, this bill slashes funding for the arts – including the National Endowment for the Arts’ flagship Grants for the Arts Projects program, which benefits individual and community well-being and supports the economy in all 435 of our Congressional districts. And this bill will prohibit the Smithsonian from highlighting the contributions of Latinos in U.S. history and culture by not making it possible to move forward with the National Museum of the American Latino, making Hispanics invisible. This is shameful and does not represent American values.
The ramifications of cuts in this bill would reach every corner of the Interior Department. It damages our public lands, promotes dirty energy, jeopardizes biodiversity, and disarms America in the face of the climate crisis. Sharp cuts to the National Park Service mean fewer seasonal employees and furloughing existing permanent park employees. The funding loss translates to dozens of employees furloughed at Yellowstone, Glacier, Sequoia, Zion, and many more of our nation’s prized National Parks. These are beloved public lands, and these cuts will mean longer wait times and fewer services available when our constituents – and visitors from around the globe – travel to experience these jewels of our nation’s geographic diversity.
The majority is also opening our public lands – the property of the American people – for oil, gas, and mineral leasing, in some cases going so far as blocking judicial review of these transactions. The majority is hindering clean energy projects – while promoting fossil fuels lease sales. And the majority is accelerating ecosystem decline by abandoning protections for our most vulnerable apex predators, like the gray wolf and grizzly bear.
I have proudly worked across the aisle to protect our environment for Americans past, present and future, and I am immensely disappointed to see the majority abandon their commitment to conserving America’s fragile lands and natural resources. I would not think Republicans need reminding of their own party’s history – but this bill is a notable reversal from the proud and bold conservation efforts of the Republicans I have worked with in decades past. I need not remind my colleagues which President created the EPA. Richard Nixon.
Finally, as we continue to see in each of these partisan bills, this legislation includes riders that prohibit funding for critical race theory; diversity, equity, and inclusion; and accessibility in the Federal workforce – none of which belong in any bill, but especially appropriations.
With its dangerous and costly cuts and indefensible riders, I must vote against this bill, and I urge my colleagues to do the same. It will take bipartisan support to get the 2024 Interior bill signed into law and this bill does not achieve that. I appeal to my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to end this partisan charade and join Democrats at the negotiating table.
Thank you, and I yield back.