There never seems to be a dull moment in this Congress. But when the moments aren't dull, sometimes they are bizarre. Last week the House was considering a bill to fund (or de-fund) the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of the Interior (DOI) that would have hacked EPA's budget to its lowest levels since 1989. But the bill was abruptly pulled from consideration, and doesn't seem to be coming back.
Before you start thinking that maybe the GOP-led House finally came to their senses and realized the imprudence of cutting an agency charged with protecting our environment and health, let me explain: In the end, it all came down to a flag -- the confedrate battle flag that is.
House Republicans pulled the spending bill from an up or down vote because of an amendment that would remove the Confederate flag from national parks and cemeteries.1 Yes, you read that correctly, according to some House members it's more important to keep a symbol of hate flying than to hack the EPA budget into pieces. My friends at Friends of the Earth said it best, "Apparently the only thing that matters more to House Republican leadership than sacrificing America's air and water is defending the legacy of slavery. We can only hope this bill stays dead and buried."2
So, while awkward, it's still a victory, but one that will likely be short lived. This uncanny chain of events likely sets up a nastier fight over how to fund not just the EPA and DOI, but all of the federal government. That fight will take place next month -- so get ready and stay tuned for how you can take action when the time comes. I am so proud and appreciative of the over 60,000 messages we sent to lawmakers to tell them to stop the EPA bloodletting.
Thanks for tall you do,
Anthony and the Environmental Action EPA Budget Boosters
1. Atkin, Emily. The House's Refusal To Remove The Confederate Flag Is An Awkward Victory For The EPA. ThinkProgress. July 10, 2015.
2. Colwell, Kate. House Leadership Pulls Interior, EPA Spending Bill Over Confederate Flag. Friends of the Earth. July 9, 2015.