The GOP Spending Bill Is Filled with Special Interest Provisions

Democrats are committed to living within our means while investing in the future, cutting the deficit, and continuing to aggressively attack waste, fraud and abuse. The GOP “So Be It” spending bill (H.R. 1) that passed on February 19th fails to meet these goals, and cuts spending on the backs of middle class families. And even worse, the GOP bill will cost more than 800,000 private and public jobs according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Economic Policy Institute.

This bill was also filled with provisions added on behalf of dozens of special interests – including amendments that were adopted by the House – having nothing to do with cutting spending. Some of these special interest provisions:

Exempt Arctic Offshore Drilling from Clean Air Protections (For Big Oil)—In a giveaway to Shell Oil and other Big Oil companies, an amendment by Rep. Don Young (R-AK) was adopted, blocking the right of local communities for an impartial review before an oil company receives a permit to pollute the air in Alaska. This amendment is part of a broader GOP attack on public health, the Clean Air Act, and EPA’s common sense safeguards to protect children and others from dangerous pollution like mercury, dioxin, and acid gases. It passed by a vote of 243-185.

Stop Reducing Carbon Pollution (For Oil, Gas, and Chemical Industries)—Republicans passed an amendment by Rep. Poe (R-TX), to bar the Environmental Protection Agency from regulating carbon pollution and other greenhouse gas emissions from refineries and other major stationary sources, as currently required by the Clean Air Act and as interpreted by a Supreme Court order. The American Lung Association and the American Public Health Association, along with doctors, nurses and other public health professionals, support EPA action on this public health threat. The amendment passed 239-185 with strong support from oil, gas, and chemical companies.

Blocking Information on Sources of Carbon Pollution (For Oil, Gas, and Chemical Industries)—Republicans passed the Pompeo (R-KS) amendment to protect power plants, refineries, and large factories from having to report how much they pollute. In the last two years, corporate polluters have spent more than $1 billion on campaign contributions and lobbying. The amendment passed 234-187.

Thousands of Pounds of Mercury and 5,000 Tons of Hazardous Air Pollutants (For Cement Industry)—Republicans passed an amendment by Rep. Carter (R-TX), to prevent EPA from enforcing a commonsense rule that reduces hazardous air pollution from cement kilns, which is the third-largest industrial source of toxic mercury in the air. The amendment passed 250-177 and was backed by Portland Cement Association, which spends over $1 million each year lobbying.

Undercutting Consumer Protection and Reform Watchdogs (For Wall Street)—On behalf of Wall Street and big banks, the GOP spending plan includes provisions to undercut the implementation of the Wall Street Reform law—hamstringing watchdog agencies charged with preventing future Bernie Madoff-type Ponzi schemes and other financial crises. New Republican Banking Committee Chairman Spencer Bachus (R-AL) has stated, “my view is that Washington and the regulators are there to serve the banks.” These provisions passed by a vote of 235-189.

Undermining Consumer Safety and Shutting Down “Early Warning System” for Parents (For Big Business Interests)—Republicans passed an amendment by Rep. Pompeo (R-KS) to prohibit funding for a new public consumer safety information database, opposed by Big Business, which is particularly designed to warn parents about potentially defective products aimed at children. The amendment passed 234-187.

Blocking Net Neutrality Rules (For Big Telecommunication Firms)—Republicans passed an amendment by Rep. Walden (R-OR) to prohibit any funding to implement the net neutrality rules announced by the FCC – which protect a free, open and accessible Internet for the American public. Big telecommunications firms have spent millions lobbying against these rules and in support of rules giving them more power to decide what content subscribers can access. The amendment passed 244-181.

Blocking Access to Justice for Veterans and Seniors (For Business Interests)—Republicans passed an amendment by Rep. Lummis (R-WY) that unfairly sacrifices the rights of low-income veterans and Social Security recipients by making it more difficult for them to retain counsel in lawsuits with government agencies. Supported by western ranchers, the amendment blocks legal fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA), a Reagan-era law designed to help the little guy battle Washington. The amendment passed 232-197.

Dumping Waste from Mountain Top Removal in Stream Valleys (For Coal Industry)—Republicans passed an amendment by Rep. Griffith (R-VA), to block EPA from implementing or enforcing new guidance to review water pollution from proposed coal-mining projects, including mountain-top removal mining. The amendment passed 235-185.

Blocked Protections of Wetlands and Streams from Harmful Dumping (For Coal Industry)—Republicans passed an amendment Rep. McKinley (R-WV), to block EPA from protecting wetlands, streams and rivers from being destroyed by dumping fill and dredge material. The amendment passed 240-182.

Blocking Hazardous Coal Ash Rules (For Electric Utilities)—Republicans passed an amendment by Rep. McKinley (R-WV) to reduce the EPA’s ability to protect the public from the nation’s second largest industrial waste stream – toxic coal ash – laden with arsenic, mercury, chromium, lead, and other hazardous substances that led to the 2008 disaster that blocked a tributary of the Tennessee River. The amendment passed 239–183.

Endangering the Chesapeake Bay (For Polluters)—Republicans passed an amendment by Rep. Goodlatte (R-VA), to block efforts to clean the Chesapeake Bay just as progress is finally being made. Pollution there has resulted in fish kills, dead zones, and impacts to human health, as well as costing jobs and damaging local economies. The amendment passed 230-195.

Stopping Klamath Salmon Restoration (For Big Business Interests)—Republicans passed an amendment by Rep. McClintock (R-CA) to block completion of a critical study—to assess the feasibility to remove dams in the Klamath River—in order to restore what used to be one of the nation’s largest commercial salmon fisheries. It passed by a vote of 215-210.