The 2016 elections were a turning point. Unfortunately we turned the wrong direction.
Since gaining the majority in 2010, Republicans in Congress have done all they can to undermine protections for our water and health, and put the profits of corporate special interests before the needs of the public. Leaders in the Senate were able to stop the worst excesses of the Republicans in the House of Representatives through 2014, and until January 2017 the Obama administration acted as a backstop, rejecting dangerous bills that would have turned back the clock on safeguards for health and the environment.
Sadly, for some elected officials, protecting the environment has become a partisan issue.
Now, since the start of the 115th Congress in 2017, the assaults on the most basic of safeguards for our water, air and health have become more frenzied than ever before. The Republican majority in Congress cheered along as the Trump administration gave up our global leadership in the fight against climate change. Republican leaders in Congress have facilitated Trump’s Dirty Water Agenda, eagerly dismantling modest policies like the Stream Protection Rule which had provided communities in coal country with a few tools to protect their drinking water from mountain-top removal coal mining waste. GOP members of the House and the Senate found ways to give even more handouts to the fossil fuel industry and helped Trump install former industry lobbyists and executives in the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Departments of Interior and Energy. And that was just in 2017.
This Congress has refused to hold Administration appointees accountable, allowing Secretary Ryan Zinke to drastically reduce the size of national monuments. They also allowed former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to waste taxpayer money, start to wipe out protections for drinking water, and sideline career employees despite his very public ethics scandals. Republican leaders have stayed silent as the Trump administration ignored the rule of law, even attempting to help EPA avoid public scrutiny by proposing changes to Administrative Procedures Act, the law that requires agencies to engage the public during the rule-making process.
As you’ll see in our Scorecard, Republicans in Congress have prioritized corporate polluters and campaign donors over the public every chance they have had. They have voted to slash agency budgets, undermine the science used to develop safeguards, and more. Republican leaders have allowed the fossil fuel industry and others to put our democracy in a stranglehold.
With the most important elections of the 21st century just around the corner, we hope you’ll use these scores as a guide at the ballot box. The people who represent us matter. For too long our Representatives and Senators have cared more about the powerful special interests who call the shots in Washington than people like you and me. It’s time to change that.
2018 can be a turning point too. It can be the year that we begin to take back Congress and our democracy.
For Clean Water,
President and CEO
Clean Water Action