Environmental Budget Update

Trump’s brutal attack on environmental spending seems mired in Congress.

It was clear early on that the stop-gap funding measure rejected Trump’s budget priorities.  Emerging details about the bill demonstrate how starkly Trump lost.

Environmental and energy programs survived with very little damage. Let’s begin with the EPA budget.  Trump sought an immediate cut, followed by a 33% cut in the next budget.  Instead, EPA received only a 1% cut, and maintains its current staffing level.  Funding was maintained for the $435.8 million, including $300 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, $73 million for the Chesapeake Bay and $28 million for Puget Sound, all of which Trump seeks to abolish. The Interior Department did even better, with small increases to the Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, and the Geological Survey.  In the Department of Energy, programs opposed to Trump kept their funding, with small increases for the energy research program in ARPA-E and the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy program.

Environmental research was also largely spared. NOAA and NASA received increases, and NSF was directed to build three research ships.  EPA’s research office did take a hit (around 3%), but there’s no sign that Congress has an appetite for Trump’s desire to gut environmental research.

This bill merely funds the government until October 1, when the new fiscal year begins.  Maybe Trump will be more successful then. He has said that a government shutdown might be a good thing for the country.  That seems unlikely to deter Democrats for demanding concessions to avoid a filibuster in the Senate.  There is also little sign that the Freedom Caucus is willing to compromise on spending cuts in the House that GOP moderates cannot support, forcing Ryan to recruit Democratic votes.  In short, there’s no reason to anticipate a change in the political dynamics that led to passage of this stop-gap measure.


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