Ranking Member DeLauro Statement at the Full Committee Markup of the 2024 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Funding Bill

2023-07-19 12:36

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT-03), Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Committee, delivered the following remarks at the Appropriations Committee's markup of the fiscal year 2024 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies bill:

– As Prepared For Delivery –

Thank you, Chairman Cole, Chairman Simpson and Ranking Member Pingree, for your work on this subcommittee. I would also like to thank the majority and minority staff, particularly Rita Culp, Jocelyn Hunn, and Farouk Ophaso.

When it comes to protecting the environment – ensuring our air is safe to breathe, our water is safe to drink, and we are resilient in a changing climate – the majority has taken the side of the most egregious polluters and reality-deniers. This legislation takes an aggressive anti-environment stance, with a crippling 39 percent cut to the EPA. The ensuing collapse of our means of protecting the environment and public health would mean more asthma cases, more cancer diagnoses, and more natural disasters afflicting American families.

The majority cuts the EPA’s Clean Air Program by at least $200 million and zeroes-out funds for environmental justice. They would cut the EPA’s infrastructure grant programs by $1.8 billion. These are not numbers on a page. This is the air in our skies and in our lungs. This is water we drink and bathe and cook with. These are basic life necessities that we have a simple obligation to protect for the American people.

On top of these dangerous cuts, Republicans are slashing 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 they are prohibiting 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.

To the concern about the museum and the Molina Family exhibit, we have a statement from the Molina family:

“The Molina family respectfully requests that the proposed language be stricken from the bill so that the Molina Family Latino Gallery may remain open and accessible to all Americans and that work on the National Museum of the American Latino may continue.”

These cuts are shameful and do 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 obstructs the U.S. response to the climate crisis. Sharp cuts to the National Park Service mean fewer seasonal employees and furloughing existing permanent park employees. The funding loss at Yellowstone translates to more than two dozen employees furloughed, nearly a dozen each at Glacier and Sequoia, and several more at Zion. These are all beloved parks and these cuts will mean longer wait times and fewer services available when our constituents visit these jewels of our nation’s land.

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. 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 the 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 the majority needs lecturing on their own party’s history – but this bill is a notable reversal from the proud and bold conservation efforts of Republicans from decades past. I need not remind my colleagues which President created the EPA.

Finally, the majority has again gone out of their way to zero-out programs that have anything to do with equity. Riders in the bill prohibit funding for critical race theory; diversity, equity, and inclusion; and accessibility in the Federal workforce.

With these cuts, indefensible riders, and absurd rescissions, the majority has again subverted the relevance of the Appropriations Committee. For all of these reasons, I must vote against this bill, and I urge my colleagues to do the same.

Thank you, and I yield back.


118th Congress