Sign up to receive email updates
Miller, Levin team up to save Great Lakes funding
U.S. Reps. Sander Levin and Candice Miller have teamed up in a bipartisan effort to defeat a House plan that would cut funding for the Great Lakes by nearly 80 percent.
Levin and Miller compromise a key piece of a coalition of six House members who are making a last-ditch push to preserve funding that protects the Great Lakes from pollution and invasive species. A House subcommittee, relying on Republican support, passed legislation on Tuesday that would slash federal dollars for the Great Lakes Recovery Initiative from $285 million to $60 million.
That allocation, which has reached a combined $1.3 billion in recent years, is designed to protect the lakes from Asian carp and other disruptive species, improve wetlands along the coastline, bolster fish and wildlife, address shoreline deterioration, reduce sewer overflows and toxic contaminants in lake-bottom sediment, and cut pollution that enters the waterways due to stormwater runoff.
“Congress needs to do more, not less, to protect the Great Lakes and provide resources for their full restoration,” said Levin, a Royal Oak Democrat who represents most of Macomb County. “The bill we are sponsoring … is a major step in the right direction, but it will be essential for Congress to follow up and provide the resources to fully fund all these vital Great Lakes programs and initiatives.”
Miller, a longtime sailor of the Great Lakes, agreed that fellow Republicans on the subcommittee had demonstrated misdirected priorities in pursuit of fiscal responsibility.
“The Great Lakes are an environmental treasure to both our economy and natural resources; protecting them is of the utmost importance,” said the Harrison Township Republican, co-chair of the House Great Lakes Task Force.
“As legislators, it is imperative we ensure that the right policy is in place to provide needed and long-term framework to sustain the Great Lakes. We must continue to move forward vital Great Lakes restoration projects and programs aimed at sustaining the natural habitats and protecting against invasive species and pollutants.”
The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, which has enjoyed bipartisan support since President Barack Obama established it in 2009, is based on a priority list endorsed four years earlier by President George W. Bush.
The subcommittee rollbacks are part of a broader spending bill that would implement the second year of “sequestration” cuts required after Congress failed to agree on a 2013 budget. The House Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Subcommittee has now sent the measure to the full Appropriations Committee.
With just 13 days of congressional session scheduled before the Oct. 1 start of the new fiscal year, the contingent fighting the cuts hopes to secure House action so that the subcommittee’s decision is not viewed by senators seeking a compromise budget as the final say by the House.
The other members of the coalition are: Reps. Dave Joyce, Ohio Republican; John D. Dingell, Michigan Democrat from Dearborn; Tom Petri, Wisconsin Republican; and Louise Slaughter, New York Democrat.
A spokeswoman for Joyce told The Associated Press he will offer an amendment next week during a meeting of the full House appropriations committee that would “significantly” boost Great Lakes spending. Miller, co-chair of the House Great Lakes Task Force, said she didn’t support the subcommittee’s cuts and would push to restore full funding.