$35.8 Billion to Fund National Parks, Land Management Agencies, and the EPA
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by Legislative Vehicle 'Junkyard' | 4.21.20
The bill that originally contained the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2019, H.R. 266, is serving as the legislative vehicle for a "phase 3.5" coronavirus relief bill. The following summary is of the original bill, which was rendered moot by the subsequent enactment of appropriations legislation, while you can find a summary of the current bill here.
What is House Bill H.R. 266?
This bill would provide a total of $35.853 billion in FY19 funding for the Dept. of the Interior, the U.S. Forest Service, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Bureau of Indian Affairs and other agencies. A breakdown of its various provisions can be found below.
Dept. of the Interior (DOI): A total of $13.109 billion would be provided for the DOI, including full funding for the Payment in Lieu of Taxes program that compensates local governments with untaxable federal property in their jurisdiction for the lost revenue opportunity.
Bureau of Land Management (BLM): A total of $1.34 billion in FY19 funding would go to the BLM, an increase of $11 million from the year prior. Funds would go to administering energy and minerals programs while investing in public land management.
National Park Service (NPS): $3.21 billion in FY19 funding would be provided to NPS, up $13.4 million from the prior year to address a backlog of construction, maintenance, and operate new park units. That’d include $23 million for the Centennial Challenge grant program, which provides matching grants to address backlog maintenance and other needs in national parks.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS): A total of $1.57 billion would be provided for the FWS, a decrease of $19.7 million from the prior year. Within the total, increased funding would be available for the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants program and the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, while operation of fish hatcheries would be maintained. The prohibition on listing the greater sage grouse as an endangered species would continue.
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS): A total of $1.148 billion in FY19 funding would be provided to USGS, equal to the prior year. Within the total, increased funding would go toward energy and mineral resources, mapping, natural hazards, and water resources.
Indian Health Service (IHS): This section would provide $5.77 billion in FY19 funding for the IHS, an increase of $234 million from the prior year. Within the total, additional funding would be focused on combating opioid abuse, suicide prevention, domestic violence prevention, and alcohol and substance abuse problems. Funds would also be included for infrastructure improvements to healthcare facilities and $115 million would go to staffing new facilities.
Bureau of Indian Affairs & Bureau of Indian Education (BIA/BIE): This section would provide $3.07 billion in FY19 funding for BIA & BIE, an increase of $11.4 million from the prior year. Increases from the prior year for human services and natural resource programs are continued as well as public safety and justice programs. Construction activities and projects would receive $359 million, an increase of $5 million.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): This section would provide $8.058 billion in FY19 funding for the EPA, equal to its funding for the prior year, including:
- $2.86 billion for the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds program, an increase from the prior year.
- $63 million would go to the Water Infrastructure Finance Act program, allowing billions in loans to finance water infrastructure.
- An increase of $17 million for categorical grant programs which help states implement various environmental regulations.
An existing policy prohibiting the EPA from regulating certain types of lead ammunition and fishing tackle would be maintained.
U.S. Forest Service (USFS): This section would provide $6.29 billion in FY19 funding for the USFS, including increased funding to fight wildfire. A $5 million increase would be provided for hazardous fuels reduction.to prevent catastrophic wildfires in the wildland-urban interface.
Wildland Firefighting: This section would provide $4.345 billion to fight wildland fire, representing the 10-year average of fire suppression costs plus an additional $900 million in anticipation of regular funding being insufficient. Within the total, $724 million would go to the Forest Service and $176 million to the Dept. of the Interior.
Argument In Favor
This bipartisan bill would fully fund the National Park Service, other federal land management agencies, and the Environmental Protection Agency for the rest of FY2019 — all of which are currently affected by the partial government shutdown.
While this bill may be bipartisan, it has no chance of becoming law unless a deal is struck on border security. Congress should focus its time and effort on reaching an overarching funding compromise.
The EPA; and the Dept. of the Interior.
Cost of House Bill H.R. 266
A CBO cost estimate is unavailable.
In-Depth: House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) offered the following statement on the introduction of this bill to fund interior & environment programs:
“This week, the House will consider the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bill as a standalone measure. This bill funds the Department of the Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency. Passing it will ensure that America’s National Parks can fully reopen. Because of the Trump Shutdown, some of the most important activities funded in the Interior-Environment bill have ground to a halt.”
National Parks have remained open during the government shutdown, though excessive waste being left by visitors caused Joshua Tree National Park in southern California to close temporarily.
President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) have said that no funding bills will become law unless the $5.7 billion border security funding request is included.
House Democrats passed a version of this bill as part of a $271 billion “minibus” funding package that funded all agencies impacted by the government shutdown (except for Homeland Security) on the first day of the 116th Congress.
A similar version of this legislation passed the Senate Appropriations Committee on a 31-0 vote as a standalone bill during the last Congress. It was then added to a broader “minibus” funding package that passed the Senate as a whole on a 92-6 vote.
- House Appropriations Committee Democrats Press Release
- Countable (Context)
- Countable (Context)
Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: iStock.com / Riishede)
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