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Omnibus Funding Highlights

Today, Congress passed an omnibus appropriations bill to fund the federal government through September 30, 2016. The full omnibus was released on Wednesday morning along with a $680M tax break package and easily passed both the House (316-113) and the Senate (65-33) on Friday morning.  It is expected to be signed into law by President Obama prior to the December 22nd expiration of the last of three continuing resolutions that were put in place during the congressional negotiations.  The final bill is being characterized as a compromise where neither party achieved all it desired.  The principal Republican victory was a lifting of the ban on U.S. oil exports. The Democrats, meanwhile, were successful in excluding most of the controversial policy riders attached to the bill, particularly those that sought to blocking EPA’s Clean Power Plan and Waters of the U.S. rules.   Of particular interest to states, the omnibus measure includes the following funds for EPA:

  • Science & Technology Account = $734,638,000 – flat funded from FY 15. A new influx of funds, however, is provided under Research National Priorities at $14,100,000 versus last year’s $4,100,000
  • Environmental Programs & Management Account = $2,613,679,000 – an approximate $10.5M decrease from FY 15. The Training/TA competitive award program, however, continues to be level funded at $12.7M as is the Great Lakes Restoration initiative ($300M) and the Chesapeake Bay program ($73M).
  • State & Tribal Assistance Grants Account = $3,518,161,000 – a $17M overall decrease. The DWSRF also decreases from $906.9M to $863.2M.  The PWSS grant maintains at the FY 15 funding level of $101.96M.  A new categorical grant is included for FY 16 funding.  The Multi-Purpose Environmental Grant provides $21M for states and tribes “…for implementation of environmental programs and projects that complement existing environmental program grants, including interagency agreements.”  No additional information is available, as yet, to explain more about this new funding and how it will be shared across all media.

Separately, the Omnibus Tackles Bottled Water

The Omnibus Appropriations Report language for the Department of Interior (Division G of the Explanatory Statements) cites concerns about a National Park Service directive allowing parks to ban the sale of bottled water, which has occurred at 19 parks.  The agency is directed to submit, within two months, a “report that details the data the service reviewed and the justification for making the determination to ban bottled water at each affected park unit.”

If you would like to read through or download the omnibus text, explanatory statements, and budget justification documents, go to this link https://rules.house.gov/bill/114/hr-2029-sa on the House Rules Committee webpage.