Mr. SCALISE. Madam Chair, I demand a recorded vote.
The Acting CHAIR. Pursuant to clause 6 of rule XVIII, further proceedings on the amendment offered by the gentleman from Louisiana will be postponed.
AMENDMENT OFFERED BY MS. JACKSON LEE OF TEXAS
Ms. JACKSON LEE of Texas. Madam Chair, we are in some tough times, but I believe it's important to have a structure in this government that provides oversight over the environment of this country. And however one may quarrel with regulations that may seem a little steep, the work of the Environmental Protection Agency is important. And as we stand here today, this legislation cuts the budget of the Environmental Protection Agency by 18 percent, in addition to a 16 percent cut in funding for
FY 2011. Thirty-four percent. This is unacceptable.
In order to protect the environment without harming industry, we must reach a compromise, instead of haphazardly slashing the EPA budget. These cuts purposely limit the EPA's ability to ensure that all Americans have access to drinking water that does not contain harmful pathogens and toxins that expose Americans to serious risk such as typhoid, hepatitis, cancer, and organ damage.
The assault on public health does not stop with the quality of our drinking water. This bill also takes drastic steps to weaken the Clean Air Act. A rider is attached that will prevent the EPA from implementing the Cross State Air Pollution Rule, a regulation that was implemented to protect the public from dangerous air pollution and prevent up to 34,000 premature deaths, 15,000 heart attacks, and 400,000 cases of aggregated asthma.
I've never seen an EPA director work as hard as Administrator Lisa Jackson. Although we have had some outstanding administrators, she has worked to work with Members across the aisle.
But these cuts reduce funding for the very programs that keep Americans, our constituents safe. And I cannot speak for my colleagues on the other side of the aisle, but I cannot afford to have these cuts impact the people of Houston and around the Nation.
Since 1999, Houston has exchanged titles with Los Angeles for the poorest air quality in the Nation. And so it is important that we find a way to increase the funding for the EPA. And as this bill makes its way through the floor, I am continuing to work to do so. And I start first with this effort. And I ask my colleagues to support this amendment.
Let me explain to you about the Old Acres Home Citizens Council. This is a historic African American community located in Houston, Texas. The Council partnered with the University of Texas to conduct a study to assess the community's health risk. It was determined that a local landfill could be the cause for the community's health-related problems, enormous cancer in that area.
As a result of the study, the Council was awarded a $20,000 grant from the EPA Justice Small Grants Program, under the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation Liability Act, commonly known as the Superfund, which, obviously, it was in some years past to conduct tests to detect, assess, and evaluate the risk to human health from hazardous substances. The goal of these Small Grants Program evaluation projects was to investigate whether there were hazardous substances in the runoff from
the adjacent landfill. This community needed those resources. The Council used the EPA grant funds to hire an EPA-approved environmental consultant to take soil and water samples from the backyards. The results of the sample analysis revealed high concentrations of toxic substances, many of which are harmful to humans.
Since 2002, the residents of Old Acres homes have observed water and substances seeping from the landfill into their back yards. This runoff collects into pools of standing water. Due to poor drainage, these standing pools became engorged and then flood, thereby increasing exposure of residences to potentially hazardous substances from the landfill.
This was the work of the EPA. It educated a poor community of seniors and others about the conditions of their neighborhood. This funding that takes away from EPA also takes away from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and, of course, impacts communities like that of the Acres Home Community in the 18th Congressional District.
My friends, we cannot gamble with the safety of the American public, the cleanliness of air and water, the quality of the environment for future generations. We need to restore this funding, and I have made this effort to do so. I will continue to do so.
Since the debt limit was put in place, we have always paid America's bills. We fight today to raise the debt ceiling, but at the same time we're cutting away at America's safety and America's need for environmental protection. I ask my colleagues to support this amendment because it is the right thing to do. It is the right thing to do for Acres Home Community in Houston, Texas.
With that, Madam Chairwoman, I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. SIMPSON. Madam Chairwoman, this is the same debate over again. We're taking money from the Office of the Secretary, which is down some $30-odd million, $33 million, I think it was, from the budget request of this year; then we've taken $20 million out of that already to put into the Land and Water Conservation Fund. This would take more money out of the Office of the Secretary.
It seems like every time somebody has an amendment that they want to offer to fund some program that they believe is important--and oftentimes they are important--the savings account that you get it from is the Office of the Secretary. Not only in this bill, but in other bills. We take it out of administration. That's always the easiest thing to do, but the fact is that the Office of the Secretary has taken a pretty good hit in this bill both during the markup and here on debate on the floor,
and so I'm afraid I have to oppose this amendment because I think it hits an account that is already substantially lower than what was requested.
I would oppose the amendment.
Ms. JACKSON LEE of Texas. First of all, I didn't thank both you and the ranking member for a very tough task, and I think my overall intent was the need for increasing the funding in EPA.
As we make our way through this process, does the gentleman see, in the consultation with the other body, any opportunity to restore any of these funds to the EPA?
Mr. SIMPSON. I would have to say I don't know. I don't know what the Senate is doing, what their allocation is going to be. They have not passed a budget, so they have no 302(b) over there to work with. But certainly we realize that the EPA has taken the largest hit within this budget. A lot of that was due to the fact that they had the largest increases over the last couple of years. But certainly we will be looking at all of these accounts when we go into conference with the body across the
Rotunda trying to come to a compromise that can pass both the House and the Senate.
Ms. JACKSON LEE of Texas. If the gentleman will yield again, I am going to continue to work on this issue. I know that we're going to take a vote on this. I, as they say, will come back again on the floor, because I think this is a very important issue.
I thank the gentleman for yielding to allow me to again express how important it is that the EPA be funded more fully than it has been.