Congress Is Home. Will The Members Be Held Accountable?

Congress is required to do a budget every year; preferably before the beginning of the fiscal year that begins on October 1.  This fiscal year Congress has failed to fund the government and has been forced to pass 6 short-term continuing resolutions, the last one that expires in only three weeks. 

The House-passed bill to fund the government for the entire year, H.R. 1 was the most anti-environmental bill ever before Congress, which I blogged on before the Senate vote. Besides the questionable defunding of domestic discretionary programs, including a 30% cut at the Environmental Protection Agency, the bill had 19 riders, or extraneous provisions that would stop EPA from completing standards for arsenic releases from cement kilns, restricting  EPA from enforcing standards for mercury pollution and ending citizens’ right to sue the government when the government does something illegal, discussed in further  in detail here and here.  Essentially, many in Congress wanted to put up a “gone-fishing” sign on the door at the EPA – to the express benefits of polluters and the consternation of companies that do comply with environmental standards and are seeing their recalcitrant competitors get away with murder.

In the House, H.R. 1 passed 235-189.  Check the House vote here. In the Senate, H.R. 1 received 44 votes, (roll call here) including yeas from key senators who at least traditionally have been more friendly toward the environment and toward public health,  While they’re back home for the week-long recess, those who support the environment will hopefully let their senators know that they want a federal budget that puts constituents ahead of big polluters. Click here for an ad that’s scheduled to run in Maine this week. 

Clearly Congress should do its job of passing a budget bill that funds the government -- instead of sneaking through anti-environmental "riders" that have nothing to do with federal spending but are corporate welfare paid for with the health of Americans and the environmental degradation.