2004 Scorecard Vote
The ongoing protection of our natural resources depends as much on the robust funding of programs as on strong environmental laws. Unfortunately, the fiscal year 2005 budgets proposed by the Bush Administration and endorsed by Congressional leaders would put our nation's air, land and water at risk by making substantial cuts to environmental programs. For example, the budget resolution reported by the House Budget Committee would have cut "discretionary" environmental spending (funding approved annually through the appropriations process) by $1.5 billion--nearly 5 percent below the previous year's levels. Over a five-year period, the resolution would have cut environmental programs by 14 percent below the level needed to maintain the current level of activity. These proposed cuts--exceeding those proposed for most other domestic programs--would have forced crippling reductions in programs that reduce air and water pollution, promote sound science and safeguard our natural resources.
On March 25, 2004, the House narrowly approved H. Con. Res. 393 by a 215-212 vote (House roll call vote 92). NO is the pro-environment vote. Representative David Obey (D-WI) later offered a freestanding resolution, H. Res. 685, that would have, among other things, increased funding for natural resources and environment programs by $825 million. The increased spending would have been offset by reducing tax cuts for people with incomes over $1 million annually. On June 24, 2004, the House rejected the Obey resolution by a 184-230 vote (House roll call vote 301). YES is the pro-environment vote. The Senate did not approve the House-Senate conference report on the budget resolution.
The Bush Administration and its allies in Congress have also proposed using unbalanced PAYGO (pay-as-you-go) rules that require funding increases for entitlement programs (such as Medicare and Social Security) to be offset with cuts to other entitlements while not requiring that tax cuts be similarly offset with spending cuts. These proposed rules would exacerbate the budget deficit and put even greater pressure on environmental and other domestic funding priorities. By contrast, the bipartisan PAYGO rules that were in effect from 1990 to 2002 required spending offsets for both entitlement spending increases and tax cuts--a shared-sacrifice principle that proved vital in eliminating the deficit.
Representative Jim Nussle (R-IA), chair of the House Budget Committee, introduced the Spending Control Act of 2004, which would have implemented the unbalanced PAYGO rules through 2009 and set discretionary spending caps for the next five years. While the specific caps were not made public, the bill was designed to lock in cuts from the House budget resolution. The bill's supporters introduced a revised version, H.R. 4663, that scaled back the duration of the caps from five to two years, but on June 25, 2004, the House rejected the bill by a 146-268 vote (House roll call vote 318). NO is the pro-environment vote.