Summary Of The Interior, Environment, And Related Agencies FY 2019 Appropriations Bill

Washington, D.C. – The fiscal year 2019 Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies bill provides a total discretionary funding level of $35.853 billion, which is $601 million more than the fiscal year 2018 level and $7.586 billion more than the President’s request.  The bill does not contain poison pill riders.

U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-New Mexico), Ranking Member of the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Subcommittee, said: “This bill represents the Senate’s commitment to the American people to conserve our public lands and cultural institutions, to safeguard our environment and clean air and water for future generations, and to fulfill our trust and treaty responsibilities to Indian Country. Thanks to bipartisan cooperation, we were able to keep this bill free of new poison pill riders and reject the shameful and inexcusable cuts proposed by the Trump administration to the Environmental Protection Agency, Bureau of Indian Education and Indian Health Services – cuts that would have put our environment at risk and prevented us from providing quality health care and education to tribal communities. I thank Senator Murkowski for her work and Chairman Shelby and Ranking Member Leahy for their commitment to regular order. As this bill and other Appropriations measures are considered, I am committed to working together to adequately fund the federal agencies and programs that provide New Mexicans and Americans with the services and protections they deserve.”

U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said: “I want to thank the Chair and Ranking Member for their bipartisan work and their commitment to supporting America’s public lands, our parks, and for the clean air and water that all Americans want and deserve in their communities.  The committee rejected the anti-science know-nothingism reflected in the skewed priorities in the Trump Administration budget proposals, by making sensible investments in protecting our environment and rejecting the dangerous and irresponsible cuts proposed by the White House.  In working on a bill that in recent decades has been contentious, I also want to thank the members of the committee for keeping poison pill riders out of the appropriations process.  Chairman Shelby and I are committed to returning to regular order, and we believe the bipartisan cooperation represented in this bill is a crucial step to achieving that goal.”

Key Points & Highlights

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).—The bill provides $8.824 billion for the EPA, the same level as fiscal year 2018 and $2.632 billion more than the President’s budget request.  The bill rejects the Administration’s proposals to cut research by 45 percent, grants by 48 percent, and regulatory and enforcement programs by 25 percent.  It also rejects the request to fund large scale buyouts to cut 3,500 agency staff, roughly 17percent of the workforce.

The bill maintains funding for the State Revolving Funds at the fiscal year 2018 level, including $1.164 billion for Drinking Water and $1.694 billion for Clean Water.  The Water Infrastructure Financing Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan program continues at $63 million, which will support lending of $6 billion.  The bill provides $25 million for lead contamination testing at schools and child care centers, $30 million for lead reduction projects in rural areas, and $15 million for water projects in communities working to improve compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act, which is $20 million more than the fiscal year 2018 level for these three programs combined.

National Park Service (NPS).—The bill provides $3.215 billion for the NPS, $13.4 million more than the fiscal year 2018 level and $513.6 million more than the President’s budget request.  National Heritage Areas funding is continued at the fiscal year 2018 level of $20.3 million and the Historic Preservation Fund is funded at $88.9 million, $8 million less than fiscal year 2018.  Funding for State Historical Preservation Offices also continues at the fiscal year 2018 level of $48.9 million, and Civil Rights grants continue at the fiscal year 2018 level of $13 million.

Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT).—The bill fully funds payments to counties through the PILT program, which are estimated at a total of $500 million.

Wildland Firefighting.—The bill provides $2.454 billion for fire suppression at the Forest Service and Department of the Interior, an amount which covers the 10-year rolling average of actual firefighting expenditures plus an additional amount that may be required, based on predictions by the agencies’ forecasting models.  This amount is $508 million more than the fiscal year 2018 level.

Tribal Programs.—The bill provides $5.772 billion for the Indian Health Service, $234 million more than fiscal year 2018 and $347 million more than the President’s budget request.  Within that amount, the bill includes increases of $104 million for tribal contract support costs, $115 million for staffing of new health facilities, and $10 million for tribal opioid treatment and prevention grants.  Programs provided through the Bureau of Indian Affairs and Bureau of Indian Education are funded at $3.075 billion, an increase of $11 million more than the fiscal year 2018 level.

Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).—The bill provides $425 million, the same level as fiscal year 2018, for Federal land acquisition and conservation grants provided through the LWCF. The President’s Budget proposed a negative total for LWCF, in the amount of -$12.9 million, due to rescissions of $46 million from previously appropriated funding.  LWCF is critical for improving recreational access to our federal lands, protecting iconic landscapes, delivering grants to states and local governments to create and protect urban parks and open spaces, and providing farmers and ranchers with easements to allow them to continue to steward their private lands in the face of development pressures.

Cultural Programs.—The bill provides $155 million each to the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities, an increase of $2 million more for each endowment than the fiscal year 2018 enacted level, rejecting the Administration’s proposal to terminate these programs.  The bill provides $1.043 billion for the Smithsonian Institution, the same level as fiscal year 2018 and $85.9 million above the President’s budget request.  Funding for the National Gallery of Art is increased by 1 percent, for a total of $167.2 million, and funding for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts increases by 2 percent, for a total of $41.3 million, above the fiscal year 2018 levels.