WASHINGTON – President Obama’s budget submission to Congress in February kicked off the debate on Capitol Hill on funding the federal government for the next fiscal year.
Rest assured, I will work for the priorities of the Third Congressional District – fighting for working families, protecting coal jobs, highway and infrastructure investment, and combating the drug abuse crisis.
My role as a member of the House Appropriations Committee gives me a platform to fight for West Virginia in the federal funding process. The House Appropriations Committee consists of 12 subcommittees, each of which writes the annual spending bills for federal departments and agencies. Cabinet secretaries, administrators and inspectors general all appear before the subcommittees to testify on their budget needs, justify their requests, and answer tough questions about their agencies’ operations.
I am a member of three subcommittees: Interior, Environment and Related Agencies; Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies; and Legislative Branch.
The Interior and Environment Subcommittee oversees spending within the Interior Department and the Environmental Protection Agency, among others. Given the Obama administration’s unrelenting war on coal in West Virginia, serving on this subcommittee will allow me to fight for West Virginia’s working families and small businesses to protect them from this president’s regulatory overreach.
I have serious concerns with the president’s proposed budget. He requests significant tax increases to pay for more of the administration’s regulatory agenda. In fact, he asks for the third largest budget in EPA history, including hundreds of millions of dollars for spending on climate change programs and dozens of lawyers to assist with the “growing legal workload” for rulemakings and permits.
The president also asks for an additional $4 billion in mandatory spending for a fund to promote his Climate Action Plan and Clean Power Plan. The implementation of these plans would result in higher energy costs for consumers and problems with energy reliability. The administration is simply out of touch with the needs of American consumers and hard-working families. I will use my position on the Appropriations Committee to push back against these costly EPA proposals.
EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy appeared before the Interior Subcommittee on Feb. 26 to testify on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s fiscal year 2016 budget request. As an appropriator, I have a responsibility to study the agency’s budget and decide if the funding they are asking for is justified and appropriate. During my questions, I made it perfectly clear to Administrator McCarthy that I would not vote to fund this agency’s war on coal and asked her to explain why she refuses to even meet with West Virginia coal miners as the administration considers new energy regulations.
“The stakeholders that I care about are the hardworking men and women of West Virginia. It’s incredible to me that the administrator wants to go off and meet with groups. Why don’t you want to meet with the people? Meet with the people of West Virginia. Look at that coal miner in the eye. That coal miner may not be with a stakeholder group, but they’ve got to put food on their table each and every day, and that hardworking miner needs to get government off its back,” I told her.
The Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee allocates funding for the Commerce Department, the Justice Department, NASA, the National Science Foundation, and several other independent agencies. This subcommittee will offer me the opportunity to strengthen the fight against the prescription and illegal drug crisis in southern West Virginia.
Drug courts are specially designed courts aimed at reducing relapses and substance abuse among offenders. These courts have achieved high success rates by combining rehabilitation treatment, mandatory drug testing, community supervision, and job-searching assistance. The president has proposed a $5 million cut to the federal drug court program, a cut I believe will limit our efforts to address the drug abuse epidemic. I will fight to have this funding restored in the final funding legislation.
The president’s budget also drastically cuts funding for the National Guard Counterdrug program, which received $175.5 million in fiscal year 2015. Through this program, the National Guard has provided valuable support for local, state and federal law enforcement and community organizations to prevent the trafficking of illegal drugs. We must ensure this important program is fully funded to continue these collaborative efforts to stop the illegal drug trade.
I also plan to fight for increased funding for West Virginia through the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas program. This federally funded program coordinates local, state and federal efforts to fight drug trafficking in hard-hit areas. The president has proposed steep, damaging funding cuts for the program over the past few years, and this year, he has again asked for a $52 million cut. This program has had great success in West Virginia and deserves to be properly funded.
Deciding how precious taxpayer dollars will be spent is a responsibility I take very seriously. I will use my role as a member of Congress and a member of the House of Appropriations to put West Virginia’s needs first. As the appropriations process continues in the coming months, I will fight to ensure our federal budget provides for the needs of West Virginia and our people.
Jenkins, a Republican, represents the Third Congressional District of West Virginia in the U.S. House of Representatives.