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House Approps Leaves EPA Budget Unfinished Until September

On Wednesday, the House Appropriations Committee began its consideration of the FY 14 Interior, EPA and Related Agencies funding measure.  The bill had been marked up and sent forward by the Subcommittee last week.  Frustration and dismay at the greatly diminished funding levels was apparent on both sides of the aisle.  Because of Members’ compelling need to express their concerns over various portions of the legislation, after 5 hours of debate and discussion, completion of the mark-up was deferred until after the August Recess.

More than half of all funding decreases in the House Appropriations draft would be absorbed by EPA (even though the bill covers the appropriations for several other federal agencies).  The average program account cut is about 19%.  EPA would face a 34% cut ($2.8 billion) from its FY 13 enacted levels.  The Drinking Water SRF would be reduced to $350 million – a 61% decrease – and the CWSRF would be funded at $250 million – an 83% reduction.  Under the Categorical Grants portion of the House proposal, the PWSS program would receive $85.3 million – about $8 million less than in FY 13.

It remains uncertain whether this funding measure will make it to the House Floor before the end of this fiscal year.  The more likely scenario appears to be yet another year of continuing resolutions (CRs).  However, a CR would maintain current FY 13 funding levels across all Federal programs…and that may not be a bad thing for either EPA or state drinking water programs, given the above-described alternative.