ICYMI: Senator Stabenow Questions OMB Director Mulvaney on Trump’s Budget Cuts to the Great Lakes (VIDEO)

Friday, May 26, 2017

During a hearing in the Senate Budget Committee on the President’s 2018 Budget, U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) questioned OMB Director Mick Mulvaney about zeroing out funding for the Great Lakes in Fiscal Year 2018.

Video of the exchange is available here and a transcript is included below.  To watch the full hearing, click here.  

Senator Stabenow: “I have tremendous concerns about a wide variety of issues in the budget and how they don’t match up with priorities of Michigan families. But I want to talk about one that has caused terrific concern in Michigan and all around the Great Lakes. And that is the question of completely eliminating the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative which funds the cleanup of our beaches, protecting our fish and wildlife.

“We have challenges with Asian carp right now getting into the waters that are funded through the initiative which is a bipartisan effort we started in 2010. We have about 40 million people that get their drinking water from the great lakes. I could go through all of it: boating, fishing, hunting, jobs connected with the economy.

“So you eliminate all the funding to protect the Great Lakes and then on top of that have gone into this farm bill to eliminate a voluntary conservation effort to protect watersheds that we are now having great success with partnering with farmers and conservation groups like Ducks Unlimited and other groups to address runoff and water quality issues in the Great Lakes. So on behalf of Michigan families, I would like to know why you think it's not important to protect our water?” 

Mr. Mulvaney: “Thank you, Senator. I begin by saying we absolutely agree. In fact, they had a chance yesterday in the House to point out that it might be news to people but there are Democrats that care about national defense and Republicans who care about clean air and water. So I think starting from a premise that we don't care about clean air and water is a difficult premise to accept and start the conversation.”

Senator Stabenow: “Well then explain why your budget zeros out dollars that allow us to protect our Great Lakes.”

Mr. Mulvaney: “Consistent with many other things that we did across the budget Senator, we look at programs that should be local. Programs that are more appropriately local in nature as opposed to national in nature. Again, go back to the original premise. I’m looking at this through the eyes of someone in Arkansas. Can I really look them in the eye and say I need to take some of your tax money to go do something in Michigan or Wisconsin?”

Senator Stabenow:Yes, that is called having a country, with all due respect. 20 percent of the world's freshwater surrounds Michigan and eight other Great Lakes states and this is something that we not only do in the state and by the community but it is a major national resource. The idea that we would not recognize that in this budget is just stunning to me.”