The House Appropriations Committee has released the fiscal year 2012 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill, which will be considered by the House Interior Environment Subcommittee Thursday. The legislation includes funding for the Department of the Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency among other independent and related agencies. Altogether the bill would provide $27.5 billion, an 8% cut, in discretionary spending. The EPA budget would be cut by 18% and the Interior Department's cut 7%.
The Appropriations Committee boasts a 22% cut to climate change programs, a reduction of the land acquisition budget to one-fifth its current size and a tightening of the purse strings to choke off money for several regulatory efforts. House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Ky., said he believes Americans are sick to death of excessive government spending and regulation that is pushing us further and further away from economic recovery.
Meanwhile, in the Senate, Budget Chairman Kent Conrad, D-N.D., wants to present a budget plan to the public this week. Democratic members of the Committee believe their plan could provide ideas and an alternative vision for future bipartisan deficit talks although several aides question the move and say it doesn't mean anything. But Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., says fellow Democrats and the President should get behind a strong alternative to Republican proposals that would cut various government programs for the middle class and the poor. Sanders believes the American people want to hear an alternative.
In a letter, Sanders told President Obama he should not yield to the GOP. Sanders says the President needs to stand tall and tell the wealthiest people in this country that they must be part of deficit reduction. He went on to say, "We're not going to throw millions of kids off Medicaid health insurance and not have you contribute a nickel."
The President wants a deal on the debt in the next two weeks featuring a balanced approach that includes eliminating tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations.