Republicans on the House Oversight Committee said Thursday they are concerned the President’s plan for cutting funding for agencies to fight the spread of the Zika virus and protect Americans from it would be a “bombshelter” to the nation’s ability to respond to the virus, as well as potentially a threat to the environment.
The Oversight Committee voted 4-3 to send a letter to Trump this week from Democratic Reps.
Jim Himes and Ed Perlmutter, which requested an explanation of how the President plans to cut funding for critical federal programs and programs that protect the environment, such as the EPA.
“The Department of Justice has a responsibility to investigate any allegation of fraud or waste in the Trump administration’s budget requests, but the President has yet to provide any meaningful explanation for this decision,” the letter reads.
“We are concerned that these agencies, such the Department of Health and Human Services, would be targeted by this budget.
As we previously noted, President Trump has yet, as of this week, provided any meaningful rationale for his plan to cut the Department’s budget by $8 billion.”
The letter was sent Thursday afternoon, shortly after Trump signed a $3 billion emergency supplemental funding bill to help fund EPA programs.
The supplemental funding package was intended to pay for the Zika and coronavirus pandemic relief that was approved by Congress in February.
The White House says it has not yet made a decision on whether the supplemental funding would be used for the fight against the virus.
Himes said the White House “has a responsibility for protecting the environment and we are concerned this proposal would threaten this mission.”
The administration has also declined to provide details about what it plans to do to help states with Zika outbreaks or the clean-up efforts.
The Department of Energy has also been criticized for its response to the spread and spread of Zika in the United States.
Trump on Thursday ordered a $2 billion increase in the budget of the Office of Management and Budget to help combat the Zika outbreak, saying it is “critical that we protect the American people.”
The funding was a part of the administration’s $1.1 trillion spending bill that was passed on Feb. 6.
The EPA is responsible for managing the Zika response, which includes the federal agencies that handle public health, transportation, health care, and the environment under the agency’s mandate to protect the public from the virus and its effects.
The President has said he wants to boost funding for EPA’s response.
The agency received $7 billion from Congress in the supplemental spending bill for Zika relief.
A House Appropriations subcommittee is reviewing the President and EPA’s requests for funding.
Hines, a Democrat, and Perlmutters, a Republican, said they are troubled by the White’s request to “reduce or eliminate the number of EPA staff members in the Department.”
“It is time to take this president at his word,” Himes told reporters Thursday.
“It’s time to stop the madness and take a real look at this President’s actions, and stop him from continuing to cut funds from the EPA and other critical federal agencies to combat the spread or spread of this disease.”
The Oversight panel sent the letter to Himes, Perlmuts, Oversight Chairman Jason Chaffetz, and Acting Administrator Ryan Zinke, as part of a broader probe into Trump’s administration.
It noted that the White has not provided any additional information about the Presidents proposed cuts to EPA and the Department to Congress.
In a statement, Zinke said that he was “disappointed in the Oversight Committee’s action.”
“While we understand the importance of this important work, the President needs to focus on the hard work of protecting our country and its environment,” he said.
Zinke did not provide any specifics about what kind of cuts the Trump Administration plans to make.
“I am committed to working with Congress to find a path forward on the funding for our vital agencies,” Zinke told reporters.
The House committee is currently in the midst of a weeklong probe into the Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with Russia during the 2016 election.
The committee has also released a series of memos detailing allegations made against the Trump team.