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 have 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 Senate Budget Committee not only made deep and disproportionate cuts to environmental programs, but would have locked them in through binding two-year spending caps. The budget resolution would have required $2.8 billion in cuts to environmental and natural resource programs over two years and, over a five-year period, would have slashed environmental programs by 14 percent below the level needed to maintain current activities. 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.
During Senate floor consideration of the budget resolution, several senators attempted to restore funding for environmental programs, and the Senate approved an amendment by Senators Mike Crapo (R-ID), Paul Sarbanes (D-MD) and Jim Jeffords (I-VT) to provide a one-year increase in water and wastewater infrastructure funding. Environmentalists nevertheless opposed the final budget resolution because it retained the deep cuts to other environmental programs. On March 12, 2004, the Senate adopted S. Con. Res. 95 by a 51-45 vote (Senate roll call vote 58). NO is the pro-environment vote.
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.
During consideration of the Senate budget resolution, Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) offered an amendment to restore the original PAYGO rules. Under Feingold's Senate Amendment 2748, any piece of legislation that increased entitlement spending or cut taxes without providing offsets would require a supermajority of 60 votes to pass. On March 10, 2004, the Senate approved the Feingold amendment by a vote of 51-48 (Senate roll call vote 38). YES is the pro-environment vote. The Senate did not approve the House-Senate conference report on the budget resolution.