Spending bills fail to provide checks on Biden’s energy and environmental abuses

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Over the weekend, House and Senate appropriations released the text of six final fiscal year (FY) 2024 spending bills: Energy and Water, Agriculture, Military Construction-Veteran Affairs, Interior and Environment, Transportation and HUD, and Commerce-Justice-Science.

Congress is expected to consider the bills this week.

When it comes to energy and environmental issues, the bills don’t include new and meaningful “policy riders” that would limit the abuses of the Biden administration’s regulatory agenda or help push back against the partisan-enacted Inflation Reduction Act.

This is especially disappointing since House legislators included numerous provisions in bills coming out of committee that were meaningful, including rescinding spending in the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (Section 438, Interior/Environment), clarifying that the Biden administration’s “Waters of the United States” (WOTUS) rule would have no force or effect (Section 441, Interior/Environment), and prohibiting the use of what has become a US Department of Agriculture slush fund, currently being used to fund the Biden climate agenda (Section 714, Agriculture).

There’s nothing that would block the Biden administration’s efforts to limit the ability of Americans from buying gas-powered vehicles, prohibit the recent pause on liquified natural gas exports, or withhold funding for the Environmental Protection Agency’s power plant rule in which the agency once again tries to play national grid manager.

It’s bad enough that Congress delegates too much power to agencies and hasn’t created sufficient processes to ensure that agencies are not going beyond its will. Worse is the inability of Congress to effectively use the power of the purse to limit abuses by the very federal agencies that Congress created.

In fairness, legislators getting meaningful energy and environmental provisions included in FY2024 spending bills was going to be a challenge. There’s a closely divided House, a Democratic-controlled Senate, and President Joe Biden in the White House.

Even with the current political makeup, it’s still disappointing that a few meaningful energy and environmental amendments to address agency abuses were not included in the spending bills. On an issue like WOTUS, this is especially true since both the House and Senate passed legislation in a bipartisan manner rejecting the rule. Policymakers should certainly continue to try using the power of the purse to provide the necessary check on federal agencies. This includes trying to do what they can with FY2024 spending bills.

Further, in light of the ongoing challenges when it comes to using the power of the purse, legislators should be even more determined than ever to ensure that agency abuses don’t occur in the first place.