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This year’s budget battles have many reflecting on similar showdowns during the Clinton era. Today, another piece of the '90s has returned to the Hill, in the form of Styrofoam.
When Democrats held a majority in Congress, cafeterias throughout the Capitol complex used compostable food containers. The eco-friendly effort was part of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s Green the Capitol campaign.
But a change in leadership has also meant a change when it comes to carryout and cutlery. Staffers, journalists and members of Congress will now find cheaper plastic utensils and Styrofoam boxes when they go for lunch.
Republicans say the Green the Capitol initiative wasn’t beneficial to the Capitol’s environment and added to the deficit, costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.
“The composting program has increased the House’s overall operating costs by an estimated $475,000 annually,” House Administration Committee Chairman Representative Dan Lungren (R-Cal.) told NBC News. “The program has also increased the House’s energy consumption through the use of additional electricity for the pulping process and the increased hauling distance to the composting facility.”
And because of that, Green the Capitol is no more. Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Kentucky) proposed an amendment that removed the program from this year’s budget.
“This amendment basically simply removes $1.5 million from the greening of the Capitol project,” Whitfield said during a statement on the House floor. “There was a total of about $7 million in this project. The project is basically over with, and there is approximately $1.5 million left. If we go on and eliminate the program now, that $1.5 million can be put directly to reducing the debt.”
Of course that didn’t make the founder of the program happy. Former Speaker Nancy Pelosi took to the Twitterverse to voice her displeasure.
"#SoBeIt GOP brings back Styrofoam & ends composting -- House will send 535 more tons to landfills #TalkAboutGovtWaste.”