House Passed Interior-EPA Spending Bill a Mixed Bag

Last Thursday, the House of Representatives passed a $32.1 billion Fiscal Year 2017 Interior-EPA spending bill (H.R. 5538) by a vote of 231 to 196. While the bill did include some good policy changes to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Heritage Action did not support final passage due to the fiscally irresponsible spending levels and continued federal funding of bad programs.

Section 427 of the bill prohibits the EPA from using federal funds to implement its new “Waters of the U.S.” rule that has many real estate professionals upset. Under the new rule, the federal government would be able to regulate nearly every body of water, even man-made ditches. This would not only violate the property rights of homeowners, but also increase real estate development regulation both residentially and commercially.

Unfortunately, the bill spends too much taxpayer dollars at a time when federal spending and debt continue to rise to unsustainable levels. Additionally, the bill fails to reduce ineffective, duplicative, and burdensome federal programs that local governments should fund. These include EPA educational grant programs, regional EPA programs, funding for underused EPA space, and funding for the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities.

Congress should continue to fight back against EPA over regulation that undermine private property and real estate development, but they should do so through legislative vehicles that reduce federal spending on wasteful programs.

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