House OKs spending package with energy, environment bills

By George Cahlink | 07/29/2021 03:26 PM EST

The House this afternoon approved an omnibus spending package. Francis Chung/E&E News

The House today approved a spending package worth more than $600 billion that serves as a down payment on the Biden administration’s commitment to fighting climate change and promoting clean energy.

The House backed the legislation 219-208, and it contains seven fiscal 2022 bills including the Energy-Water and Interior-EPA measures. The package, H.R. 4502, would provide $14 billion in new clean energy funding, while EPA would see its budget increase by more than 25%.

The House passed two en bloc packages of largely modest amendments before final passage, after earlier this week rejecting a slew of GOP amendments that would have blocked large chunks of President Biden’s energy and environmental agenda (E&E Daily, July 28).

Among the amendments adopted today was a provision, offered by Reps. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) and Deborah Ross (D-N.C.), that would block any funding to prevent wind development off the coasts of Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. The Biden administration has made offshore wind central to its clean energy push, but not all coastal lawmakers favor the plans and some have tried to enact limits.

Other amendments adopted today en bloc included:

  • A bipartisan amendment to increase funding for the Forest Service by $2 million for wildfire management.
  • An amendment from Rep. Kim Schrier (D-Wash.) to increase funding for the Wildland Fire Leadership Council by $2 million to provide recommendations on addressing interjurisdictional fire reimbursement challenges.
  • An amendment to provide an additional $2 million for the U.S. Geological Survey to study harmful algal blooms.
  • An amendment to increase funding for the U.S. Geological Survey for developing and publishing a list of critical minerals, coordinating with the Department of Energy to establish and operate a Critical Materials Information Portal, and working with the Labor Department on workforce issues relating to critical minerals.
  • An amendment from several Republicans to increase funding for EPA’s science office for research on per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and toxins resulting from harmful algal blooms.
  • A Democratic amendment to boost funding for EPA geographic programs by $5 million with the intent of increasing funding for the San Francisco Bay estuary from $25 million to $30 million.
  • An amendment from Rep. Cori Bush (D-Mo.) to increase the Transportation Department’s zero-emissions bus grant program by $2.4 million.
  • An amendment from Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) to provide $1 million to assist low-income communities impacted by major highway construction.

The House also this week approved the Legislative Branch bill, H.R. 4346, and State-Foreign Operations bill, H.R. 4373 (E&E Daily, July 29). The chamber is tomorrow expected to pass its Commerce-Justice-Science bill, H.R. 4505.

Despite the House’s progress in moving spending legislation, the Senate has yet to even mark up any of its 12 fiscal 2022 spending bills. As a result, Congress will likely need to pass stopgap funding to avert a government shutdown before the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1.