By Mark Hand
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) took credit Wednesday morning for cutting the number of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) employees, saying Republican leaders negotiated an omnibus budget deal Sunday night that would reduce the EPA employee count to 1989 levels.
“We reduced the EPA staffing levels to pre-Obama, back to 1989. So we knocked the staff down to what we had in 1989,” Ryan told conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt.
The problem with Ryan’s statement is that the Republican-led House Appropriations Committee’s own summary of the budget deal clearly shows it isn’t true. The negotiations resulted in “holding the EPA to the current capacity of 15,000 positions,” House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ)’s office stated in its fiscal year 2017 omnibus budget summary.
The Trump administration has vowed repeatedly to make major cuts to the EPA, but with the agency emerging temporarily unscathed in the new agreement, Republicans have been scrambling to characterize it as a win.