This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) that would prohibit funds provided by an agriculture bill from being used to implement Agriculture Department regulations relating to climate change. This amendment was offered to legislation providing annual funding for Agriculture Department programs.
Specifically, the Agriculture Department had issued regulations requiring federal agencies to determine how climate change will impact their ability to carry out their responsibilities—and devise plans to adapt to changes brought on by climate change. This amendment would prohibit funding provided by the underlying agriculture bill from being used to implement such regulations relating to climate change adaptation.
Scalise urged support for his amendment: “ Look, our local weatherman can't tell us what the weather's going to be this Saturday, within a 50 percent margin of error. And yet the Department's spending millions of dollars to tell us what the climate's going to be in 39 years to determine how our farmers should be growing crops. This is ludicrous. We rejected it here in Congress. We shouldn't be allowing these kinds of regulations to be implemented. And hopefully this amendment will get adopted.”
No Democrats spoke in opposition to Scalise’s amendment, although most voted against it. Jamie Rappaport Clark, the executive vice president for Defenders of Wildlife, criticized Scalise’s amendment: “Rep. Scalise and the 237 other members of the House are inhibiting the USDA’s [the Agriculture Department’s] ability to help farmers and forest owners and managers prepare for a future that includes more of the extreme weather events we have just experienced this spring. The future is not going to be the same as the past. This commonsense USDA policy says let’s plan for that future in a way that will prevent food disruptions, massive forest fires and economic hardships.”
The House agreed to this amendment by a vote of 238-179. Voting “yea” were 228 Republicans and 10 Democrats. 174 Democrats and 5 Republicans voted “nay.” As a result, the House agreed to an amendment that would prohibit funds provided by an agriculture bill from being used to implement Agriculture Department regulations relating to climate change. In order for this amendment to become law, however, it would have to pass the Senate. At the time the House passed the amendment, the Senate had not yet taken it up. Thus, the Agriculture Department’s regulations on climate change adaptation continued to be implemented.