House pushes to preserve scientific integrity, congressional oversight
- By Lia Russell
- Jul 10, 2020
House appropriators continued to push back against the White House’s proposed budget cuts to agencies such as the Department of the Interior and the Environment Protection Agency, and to oversight bodies such as the Government Accountability Office.
In a full committee markup session on July 10, members voted to approved the fiscal year 2021 appropriations bills for Interior, Environment and Related Agencies and the Legislative Branch.
The committee also passed an amendment that Rep. David Price (D-N.C.) introduced, which would block the EPA from enacting its “data science transparency” policy, which has raised concerns about scientific integrity for scientists both inside and outside of the agency.
“This rule would place new crippling limits on what studies can be utilized when EPA is crafting new regulations,” Price said.
In her remarks supporting Price’s amendment, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) noted that the Inspector General for the Department of Commerce had recently criticized the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for not releasing a critical report that criticized NOAA agencies for their handling of the “Sharpiegate” scandal, sparking concerns that the Trump Administration was undermining scientific integrity.
The Interior appropriation would grant $36.76 billion to the various agencies under its stewardship. DOI would receive $13.8 billion, reserving $1.3 billion for the Bureau of Land Management, $3.2 billion for the National Parks Service, while the EPA would receive $9.4 billion.
The IG offices for the DOI and EPA would receive $62 million and $45 million, respectively.
The bill, which passed 30-19, also sets aside $15 billion in emergency supplemental funding, specifically earmarked for critical infrastructure purposes.
The Legislative Branch bill passed 30-18. Members focused on increasing funding for key agencies such as the GAO, Congressional Budget Office, and Capitol Police, in addition to increasing salaries for House employees and interns.
The GAO would be given $664 million, mainly to hire more staffers, while the CBO get $57.3 million. The Library of Congress would be given almost $753 million, in order to focus on information technology needs, in addition to other modernization needs and initiatives.
In addition to preserving language that would allow for the removal of Confederate symbols from the Capitol, the bill contained a provision that would allow legislative branch agencies to employ Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals recipients, the program that allows undocumented migrants who immigrated to the U.S. as children to remain in the country.
Lia Russell is a former staff writer and associate editor at FCW.