Mick Mulvaney, the current director of the Office of Management and Budget and my predecessor representing South Carolina’s 5th Congressional District, has been guided by the idea that every dollar spent by the federal government must be scrutinized.
I took this principal to the heart as I examined the president’s budget request, which succinctly stated: “Everyone believes in and supports safe food supplies and clean air and water. But the agencies of the federal government have gone way beyond what was originally intended by the Congress.”
While traveling around my district this August, I heard the same sentiment put more plainly: “Washington is off the rails.”
As our national debt grows in excess of $20 trillion (that’s 20,000 billion for the folks following at home), each of my 15 grandchildren is being saddled with a $61,000 share of the debt. The time is now to tackle Washington’s spending problem.
While I am encouraged by the leadership of President Donald Trump’s administration with its budget request, I strongly believe Congress must do its part to stop this debt from crushing our nation.
The spending bill being considered by the House this week features an Environmental Protection Agency appropriation that is $1.87 billion above the president’s budget request, which I believe is unnecessary and unacceptable.
That is why I have submitted an amendment that would reduce EPA appropriations to the administration’s requested level of $5.655 billion.
In his testimony to a House Appropriations subcommittee, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt emphasized the need for the EPA to get “back to the basics” of its statutory authority of ensuring access to clean water, air, and land.
To that end, Pruitt spoke of three principles that he brought with him into the EPA: a focus on rule of law, a restoration of process, and cooperative federalism.
Pruitt recognizes the history of statutory overreach that has plagued the agency he has inherited. I am glad to see the steps he has already taken to reverse this overreach—for example, the decision to roll back the Obama administration’s Waters of the United States rule.
Considered a blatant power grab, this rule drastically exceeded the authority granted to the EPA by Congress over navigable waters in the Clean Water Act.
During the subcommittee hearing, Pruitt stressed that rule of law must exist in a practical sense—that the authority of the EPA must not be reimagined or expanded beyond the authority granted by Congress.
Regulatory overreach has created uncertainty in the marketplace, where individuals and businesses are unsure of what to expect. Pruitt plans to address this by implementing an open and transparent rule-making process in place of past rule-making through litigation and guidances.
By ensuring that stakeholders have a voice in rule-making, we can build a foundation that allows for better regulatory compliance and the confidence necessary for marketplace investment.
I look forward to working with Pruitt and the EPA, along with my colleagues in Congress, so we can ensure that environmental interests are balanced with economic interests.
Lastly, Pruitt recognizes the role of cooperative federalism, particularly with respect to enforcement of environmental regulations.
It is imperative that we eliminate duplication of efforts in enforcement. We must work with states and tribes, recognizing that they are the primary implementers and enforcers of environmental programs, to ensure that the EPA maintains its focus on oversight.
The president’s budget request for the EPA provides the roadmap for trimming the agency back to focus on its core mission. Funding for the agency is focused on infrastructure, elimination of duplicative programs and programs that extend past the EPA’s statutory authority, and ensuring that funds are not lost to bureaucratic waste.
Congressional Republicans have an incredible opportunity in front of us to practice what we preach in tackling an out-of-control federal government. We should take advantage of the fact that the Trump administration is willing to work with less.