WASHINGTON D.C. (WTAQ) - Upper Midwest conservatives may be bullish about cutting spending -- but not when it comes to protecting the Great Lakes.
Wausau area Republican Sean Duffy is among a number of Tea Party lawmakers who are big supporters of the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative. They say it's vital to clean up a century of pollution in order to attract jobs and improve the region's economy.
Former Republican President George W. Bush created a task force in the last decade which identified thousands of local cleanup projects along the Great Lakes. But Congress never funded it until Democratic President Barack Obama made a big push for it.
Over $1.3 billion have been spent on the program in the last five years. A House subcommittee voted earlier this year to cut its funding by 80 percent -- and a Republican, David Joyce of Ohio, led the drive to restore most of the money.
Now, the Obama White House is about to work on a package of projects for the next five years of the initiative.
Environmental advocates pressed for an expansion of cleanups this week, when a number of Great Lakes organizations held their annual joint conference in Milwaukee.