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On a day when every resident of the Pacific Rim is grateful for advanced warning systems, we are reminded of the essential services that government agencies provide. Certainly, fishermen in California who got their boats out of the water this morning as the Japanese tsunami approached are grateful for those who work around-the-clock to protect lives and property.

But essential services now face the chopping block in Washington, DC.

News headlines last week prominently featured both music (the Grammy Awards rolled out their red carpet) and the environment (the GOP’s proposed spending legislation steamrolled through the House, nearly crushed under the weight of riders and amendments seeking to rollback many environmental and public health gains of the past several years).

What readers may not be aware of is that in two smaller stories, the environment weighed in on music:

 It’s a shame that it took the House days and many late night and early morning hours to come up with a budget plan like this. And during the wee hours of 4:35 a.m. the final roll call counted a vote of 235 to 189. And just like that our elected leaders eliminated safeguards for our air, water and wildlife.

As I write this, members of the House of Representatives continue to debate and move their way through votes on hundreds of amendments to the chamber's government spending bill. The voting and debate has been a marathon process, stretching from morning through late at night for the last three days, and looks to carry on until late tonight or tomorrow.

The U.S. House of Representatives is a dark place right now. Many of its Republican members are maniacally focused on dismantling scores of health and environmental protections, using a budget bill to stowaway anti-environmental amendments that would never get passed on their own.

Forty years of environmental progress is under attack today by a vote in the House of Representative on a stop-gap funding measure to keep the federal government running.

Unfortunately, that measure—called a continuing resolution—is loaded with amendments and provisions that would slash the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget, and seeks to override the rule of law at every turn.

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