What: All Issues : Environment : Wildlife/Forest/Wilderness/Land Conservation : (H. R. 2996) On final passage of the bill providing fiscal year 2010 funding for the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. (2009 house Roll Call 475)
 Who: All Members
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(H. R. 2996) On final passage of the bill providing fiscal year 2010 funding for the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies.
house Roll Call 475     Jun 26, 2009
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Win

This was a vote on H.R. 2996, the bill providing fiscal year 2010 funding for the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. The spending in the bill totaled $32.3 billion. This amount included what Rep. Dicks (D-WA), the chairman of the Appropriations Committee subcommittee that developed H.R. 2996, called “historic increases for the environment, natural resources, and Native American programs, especially Indian health . . . (and) significant allocations to protect our public lands, invest in science, and support important cultural agencies.” The spending in the bill represented an increase of 17% over fiscal year 2009, with the largest increase devoted to grants to improve drinking water treatment facilities and sewer systems. The bill also contained $6.8 billion for Native-American programs, $3.66 billion for fire control activities, and $420 million for climate change adaptation and scientific study In addition, there was also a total of $320 million in reductions in, or terminations of, various programs.

Rep. Dicks justified the overall 17% spending increase by claiming that many of the programs supported by the funding in the bill “have been chronically underfunded and (the bill) provided the allocations necessary to reverse that trend.” Dicks argued that the bill “invests taxpayers' dollars in our natural resources, and for this investment all Americans will see great returns.” He also noted that programs funded by the measure “will return more than $14.5 billion to the Treasury next year. That's revenue. The Department of the Interior alone is estimated to return more than $13 billion to the Treasury through oil, gas and coal revenues, grazing, timber, recreation fees, and (other) revenues . . . .”

Rep. Simpson (R-ID), the Ranking Republican on the Appropriations Committee subcommittee that developed H.R. 2996, led the opposition to the bill. He acknowledged that the country “has some serious environmental challenges that need to be addressed”, but described the funding in the bill as an “overly generous allocation to meet many of those needs.” He claimed that “too often we believe that our commitment to an issue is measured by the amount of money we spend rather than how we're spending that money. History has shown us that bigger budgets do not necessarily produce better results.” Simpson also said: “(T)his legislation is funding large increases in programs without having clearly defined goals or sufficient processes in place to measure the return on our investment.”

Simpson then referred to the current serious economic crisis and the projected record federal deficits. He said: “I can show a historically bigger problem where the ‘solution’ of more and more deficit spending has not worked--including the Great Depression of the 1930s and Japan in the 1990s.”

The legislation passed by a vote of 254-173. Two hundred and thirty-seven Democrats and seventeen Republicans vote “aye”. One hundred and fifty-nine Republicans and fourteen Democrats voted “nay”. As a result, House approved and sent to the Senate the bill providing fiscal year 2010 funding for the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies.

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