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U.S. Senate restores Interior and EPA funding after House recommends big cuts

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C.
John Greim
UIG via Getty Images
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C.

News brief: 

Last month, the U.S. House proposed sweeping cuts to the upcoming budgets of the Interior Department and Environmental Protection Agency. Now, a Senate committee has restored most of what the agencies are asking for in the next fiscal year.

The decision sets up continued negotiations in Congress over programs with a big impact on the Mountain West. It also highlights a divide between Republicans who control the House and Democrats who control the Senate.

The Senate bill would provide almost $43 billion for Interior, the EPA and other similar agencies – $17 billion more than the House proposed.

Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., said key initiatives for tribal health care, the National Park Service and clean air and water avoided major cuts.

“We really had to wrestle with how to put this together,” he said. “In some cases success was simply keeping funding to where we were last year.”

Under this proposal, many agencies would still receive less than the Biden administration’s request. The Senate said it’s trying to adhere to the debt ceiling deal negotiated earlier this summer.

The Senate bill would also fund housing programs for park service workers, disaster relief, and cleanups of dilapidated buildings. A final spending package must be signed by the president by January 1.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, KUNC in Colorado and KANW in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Will Walkey is a contributing journalist and former reporter for Wyoming Public Radio. Through 2023, Will was WPR's regional reporter with the Mountain West News Bureau. He first arrived in Wyoming in 2020, where he covered Teton County for KHOL 89.1 FM in Jackson. His work has aired on NPR and numerous member stations throughout the Rockies, and his story on elk feedgrounds in Western Wyoming won a regional Murrow award in 2021.

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