The Republican-controlled House continued its break with President Trump on budget matters, after lawmakers on the Appropriations Committee agreed to a $37.6 billion spending bill that calls for smaller budget cuts to the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Army Corps of Engineers.
Under the energy and water appropriations bill, one of 12 to fund the federal government, lawmakers agreed to allocate $29.9 billion to the DOE in fiscal year (FY) 2018. That amounts to a 2.8% decrease ($857.6 million) in funding from the $30.7 billion the DOE received in FY2017, but it's also 7.2% higher ($2 million) more than the $27.9 billion Trump proposed giving the department last May.
Within the DOE, funding for energy programs would total $9.6 billion, which is about $1.7 billion below FY2017 but $2.1 billion above the budget request. The committee said it was recommending $5.4 billion for the Office of Science, $1.1 billion for energy efficiency and renewable energy, $969 million for nuclear energy and $634.6 million for fossil energy. The budget eliminates funding for the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy but research and development (R&D) funding is included.
The bill also calls for giving the DOE's Energy Information Administration $118 million, or $4 million less than the $122 million it received in FY2017. It also includes "a provision regarding the drawdown and sale of crude oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR)."
The Trump administration had proposed cutting $500 million in support of the SPR in FY2018. The White House estimated that cutting the SPR in half would save an estimated $4.4 billion over the next five fiscal years, and $16.6 billion over the next 10 years.
Meanwhile, the Army Corps would receive $6.2 billion for civil works programs -- $120 million more than what was enacted in FY2017 and about $1.2 billion above the budget request.
Overall, the energy and water appropriations bill is $209 million below what was enacted in FY2017, but $3.2 billion above the budget proposed by the White House. The bill now heads to the House floor before the Senate takes up the legislation.
"This bill prioritizes fulfilling our national security needs and maintaining critical investments to support American competitiveness within tight budget caps," said Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID), chairman of the House Energy and Water Subcommittee. "It strikes a responsible balance between the modernization and safety of our nuclear weapons, advancing our national infrastructure, and strategic investments in basic science and energy R&D.”
In its decision on DOE funding, the committee wrote in the bill that it supports "an all-of-the-above energy strategy designed to take advantage and utilize all sources of American-made energy. Funding for fossil and nuclear sources, which provide 84% of all electricity generated in the nation, is targeted to ensure the safe and efficient use of the nation's critical baseload energy generation sources...
"This strategy provides the correct balance to enable full use of our nation's abundant fossil resources while laying the foundation for developing future energy sources."
According to a report in the Washington Examiner, Reps. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) and Nita Lowey (D-NY) attempted to add an amendment that would have removed a policy rider for the Army Corps and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to withdraw the controversial Clean Water Rule, which was promulgated by both during the Obama administration to clarify what constitutes Waters of the United States. The amendment was voted down along party lines, 32-20.