Simpson Remarks at Rules Committee Hearing on H.R. 4821, The Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act

Nov 1, 2023

Thank you to the Members of the Committee for the opportunity to discuss H.R. 4821, the Fiscal Year 2024 Interior and Environment appropriations bill. 

H.R. 4821 provides $25.4 billion in new non-defense discretionary spending – which is $13.4 billion or 35 percent below the Fiscal Year 2023 level.  The bill also rescinds $9.4 billion in funding provided to EPA, the Presidio Trust, and the Council on Environmental Quality through the Inflation Reduction Act.

In drafting this bill, we worked very hard to rein in federal spending while prioritizing critical needs within our reduced allocation. 

The bill fully funds Payments in Lieu of Taxes – estimated at $515 million – and provides an additional $1.6 billion to fund essential wildfire activities without using irresponsible budgetary gimmicks. 

This legislation also makes critical investments in Indian Country – a longstanding, bipartisan priority for the Committee – and provides advance appropriations for the Indian Health Service.  

To support these programs, the bill reduces funding for nearly every other appropriation in the bill.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Council on Environmental Quality all receive double-digit percentage reductions. To rein in the EPA, the agency is cut 39 percent below the Fiscal Year 2023 level with reductions aimed at research and regulatory activities. 

The bill also includes important policies limiting the activities of the Administration and promoting domestic energy production including:

  • Reining in the EPA by halting heavy-handed, job-killing rules and regulations such as the Waters of the U.S. rule, and other EPA overreach that targets reliable energy sources and domestic manufacturing;
  • Limiting abuse of the Endangered Species Act;
  • Expanding access to critical minerals; and
  • Requiring oil and gas lease sales.

In closing, I’d like to remind everyone that cutting funding is never easy and it can often be an ugly, arduous process. 

I've noticed that Mr. Neguse talked about the dysfunction of the Republican conference over the last three weeks. Frankly, that's democracy in action - that's how it works. 

I can tell you one thing that all Republicans agree on is that we have to reduce spending. We debate how much and how fast, but all of us agree that we have to reduce spending. 

With the national debt in excess of $33 trillion and inflation at an unacceptable level, we must make tough choices to not saddle our children and grandchildren with overwhelming debt.

Some may say that discretionary spending is only a small fraction of our nation’s spending problem and that entitlements are to blame, but last Congress alone, $3 trillion was spent outside of the normal appropriations process. This reckless spending, as “small” as it is to the overall problem, contributes to our nation’s growing debt. 

We must rein in unnecessary federal spending and put our economy on track to recover. 

Thank you to my colleague, Ranking Member Pingree, for her work this year, and to the Rules Committee for the opportunity to testify today. I’d be happy to take questions.