Photo Source: Congressional campaigns of Mike Garcia and George Whitesides

Mike Garcia and the GOP's Environmental Rollback: House Republicans spent the month of March rolling back critical environmental initiatives, while Democrats pushed for more environmental protections


Apr 1, 2024 - During March 2024, Democrats championed measures to fight climate change with stricter environmental rules while Mike Garcia and the GOP majority undermined important environmental protections, especially those that shielded lower-income communities. Garcia and his fellow Republicans voted to eliminate rules that benefited business interests at the expense of the most vulnerable communities. Democrats moved to strengthen environmental protections. The Green New Deal for Public Housing Act was sponsored by progressive Democrats like Senator Bernie Sanders (D-VT) and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).


On March 7, 2024, the GOP majority in the House of Representatives voted to overturn the Biden administration's protections for numerous small streams, wetlands, and other waterways. Republicans claimed the water protections were environmental overreach and impeded business operations. Congressman Mike Garcia aligned himself with this legislation, contributing to the 227-198 majority vote to repeal the regulations.


The House of Representatives' Republican majority voted on March 7, 2024, to repeal the Biden administration's safeguards for numerous small streams, wetlands, and other waterways. Republicans argued that the water regulations hindered corporate operations and were an overreach by the government. Congressman Mike Garcia supported this proposal, which helped the removal of the regulations passed by a majority vote of 227 to 198.


Republicans are now hoping to win over Democratic senators who are dubious of President Biden's environmental initiatives to advance the proposal through the Senate. Senator Joe Manchin, the lone Democrat from West Virginia, has already said that he supports repealing the regulation and calling it an excessive overreach by the federal government.


If the bill makes it to President Biden's desk, he has stated that he intends to veto it. The clean water rule, which was implemented by the Biden Administration in December 2023, establishes that the Clean Water Act's "waters of the United States" are protected against pollution. This has set off a continuing battle between industry groups, such as builders and farmers, who argue that stringent environmental regulations are a burden for businesses, and environmentalists who want even higher emission limits.


On March 22, 2024, Congressman Mike Garcia joined the GOP majority in another critical vote against environmental protections. This time, the goal was to directly target the greenhouse gas reduction fund by eliminating section 134 of the Clean Air Act. The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) refers to this fund as an essential resource that provides financial and technical support to promote zero-emission technology and initiatives meant to lessen or prevent greenhouse gas emissions and other types of air pollution. It also prioritizes support for programs that help underprivileged and low-income communities.


By voting in favor of repealing section 134, Congressman Garcia aligned himself with Republican efforts to dismantle certain environmental provisions, a move that has elicited both support and criticism from various stakeholders. The effects of these legislative actions reach well beyond Capitol Hill, resonating throughout communities and industries nationwide as the country wrestles with balancing environmental protection and economic interests.


Meanwhile, on March 21, 2024, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Sen. Bernie Sanders, and Rep. Delia Ramirez reintroduced the Green New Deal for Public Housing Act, aiming to revolutionize the nation's public housing system. The legislation proposes a substantial investment of $162 to $234 billion over the next decade to retrofit, expand, and decarbonize public housing. The initiative argues for the building of safer, energy-efficient housing while creating an estimated 280,000 jobs annually. To address the interconnected issues of housing insecurity and climate change, the law places a high priority on environmental justice, resident involvement, and employment development. The Green New Deal for Public Housing Act has endorsements from organizations like the National Low Income Housing Coalition and AFSCME, as well as testimonials from impacted residents and advocates.


There is still a great deal of political polarization when it comes to environmental policy, with Republicans—led by Congressman Mike Garcia—prioritizing deregulation and business interests while Democrats push for more laws to address climate change and protect important natural resources.