1982 Scorecard Vote
The vote is on the Leahy (D-VT) amendment to the First Budget resolution (S. Con. Res. 92) to add $250 million for the fiscal 1983 EPA operating budget and $60 million more for administration and enforcement of the toxic waste superfund. The 1982 budget cuts had already slashed EPA's real operating budget by more than 25%. The Budget Committee wanted to freeze EPA's funding at fiscal 1982 levels, which would have meant a further cut in purchasing power because of inflation.
The cuts coincided with a near doubling of the agency's workload, brought about by new federal laws on toxic chemicals and wastes. The Environmental Protection Agency now has responsibility for air and water pollution, solid wastes, pesticides, radiation, toxic substances, and hazardous wastes. A National Wildlife Federation study showed that EPA needed to increase its budget by two thirds to carry out duties required by Congressional legislation.
The Reagan Administration cannot get Congress to weaken pollution laws, but it has subverted these laws by refusing to give environmental agencies the money to do their jobs. EPA enforcement actions went down 84% the first year Reagan was in office. One career EPA lawyer recently resigned and said in a memo that "this program cannot continue to tread water without additional personnel and support." Most of the money in the Leahy amendment was for EPA inspections, regulation, and health effects research, but $100 million was for EPA grants to states to help them carry out pollution control responsibilities that the federal government was no longer willing or able to do. Leahy amendment rejected 38-59; May 20, 1982. YES is the pro-environmental vote.