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Pallone & Tonko: Postpone Environment Subcommittee Markup

Jun 13, 2017
Press Release
Democrats concerned about habitual lack of input from federal agencies on legislation

Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Environment Subcommittee Ranking Member Paul Tonko (D-NY) sent a letter to Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) and Environment Subcommittee Chairman John Shimkus (R-IL) today requesting that a potential Environment Subcommittee markup intended for Thursday, June 15, be postponed until the appropriate federal agencies are able to provide comment on the legislation under consideration.

Pallone and Tonko have been notified by the majority that it intends to schedule a markup for Thursday on the Ozone Standards Implementation Act, a Brownfields Reauthorization discussion draft, and a Nuclear Waste Policy Amendments Act discussion draft.  While legislative hearings were held on each of these bills, none of the hearings included agency witnesses to provide the Trump administration’s perspective or engage in a real-time dialogue with Members on the legislation. 

“We respectfully request that this markup be postponed indefinitely, until such time as the appropriate federal agencies have testified before the Subcommittee to express their views on the legislation and the subject matter addressed by the bills,” Pallone and Tonko wrote.  “Members deserve the opportunity to receive testimony from the relevant federal agencies and ask questions regarding critical issues and the potential impact of legislation under consideration.”

The two Democratic Committee leaders wrote this is particularly true as the Committee considers appropriate authorization levels for programs that the Trump Administration has targeted for cuts in the President’s dangerous and shortsighted Fiscal Year 2018 budget.     

“We have seen a frustrating trend during this Congress with the Committee holding numerous oversight and legislative hearings without witnesses from the Administration,” Pallone and Tonko wrote to the Chairmen.  “At the outset, we were told that this was because the Administration was still working through the confirmation process for senior leadership positions at federal agencies.   However, it is now June and no longer reasonable to expect Members on either side of the aisle to accept that as an excuse for the Administration’s failure to participate in this vital part of the legislative process.”

Pallone and Tonko concluded by writing that: “It is critical for members to have an accurate understanding of the appropriate agency’s views on legislation before the Subcommittee proceeds with a markup.”

Full text of the letter is available here.