WASHINGTON (March 21, 2018)—Congress is poised to pass an omnibus spending package that outright rejects the funding cuts proposed by the Trump administration.
Below is a statement by Ken Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists.
“It is reassuring that Congress rejected the White House’s proposed cuts to the EPA and other science agencies like NASA, NOAA and the Energy Department. Congress realizes that the American public values clean air and water, and that the National Weather Service needs tools, like satellite programs, to provide the weather forecasts that the public relies on every day. Congress also apparently recognized the critical role agriculture research plays in supporting healthy soil, clean waterways, and productive farms and rural communities, because it increased funding for several key USDA research programs.
"Congress also increased funding for the Energy Department's clean energy research and development programs. This was a complete repudiation of the president's attempt to gut some of these programs and outright eliminate the nation's early-stage clean energy innovation program, known as ARPA-E. I hope to see Congress increase funding even more next fiscal year to help the United States remain on the cutting edge in this highly competitive field.
“I’m pleased that Congress has also clarified that CDC scientists can conduct research on gun violence. For years we've called for the federal ban to be lifted, and we’re a step closer. We plan to ensure Secretary Azar creates the conditions that allow scientists to do this critical research without fear of retaliation.
“Although they didn’t craft the perfect fix, Congress used this bill to tackle another longstanding problem. As climate change contributes to worsening wildfire seasons and wildfire suppression costs have increased, the Forest Service has had to raid its own accounts, including diverting funding from programs that reduce wildfire risk, to pay for firefighting. By setting up a new wildfire disaster account, the Forest Service will no longer have to rob Peter to pay Paul.
“While a group of lawmakers were able to block most of the harmful and unrelated measures tacked onto the bill, there still remain a few poison pill riders in here, including a biomass provision, that essentially thumb their nose at science. By permanently decreeing that biomass is carbon neutral, Congress has legislated the answer to a scientific question, and unfortunately the answer is simply wrong—all biomass is not carbon neutral. For lawmakers who claim to love the founding fathers, they would have sorely disappointed Ben Franklin.”