House Passes FY 17 EPA Funding

The annual “death watch” for EPA appropriations took on new life this week.  On Monday, the House Rules Committee approved limited debate time for 66 Republican amendments, 61 offered by Democrats, and 4 bipartisan offerings to the House Interior & EPA FY 17 funding measure.
The bill, HR 5538, would provide $7.98 billion in funds for EPA which is $291 million below the budget request and $164 million less than FY 16 funding.  However, DWSRF funding would increase to $1,070,500 and PWSS would go up by nearly $8 million to $109,700,000.
Tuesday and Wednesday saw extended debates on the amendments, many of which spoke to endangered species protections and oil and gas issues.  On Tuesday, the House agreed to take + $110 million from EPA’s program account and redirect it to the Agency’s Office of Inspector General, forest products research, a coal field reclamation program, and a Forest Service “hazardous fuels” effort to reduce vegetation that can feed fires.  On Wednesday, two amendments passed that are of particular interest to state drinking water programs.  Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI) was successful in proposing $3 million in funds for Flint, MI to “build a water testing system” (no further details available at this time).  Kildee’s second amendment would allow “emergency declarations” such as that made for Flint to be eligible for additional DWSRF funding to resolve the crisis.
Thursday saw final amendment deliberations with Rep. Beyer’s amendment to strip all water related riders being defeated.  Later that day, the House passed the bill, despite warnings of a Presidential veto threat on the grounds of “inclusion of problematic ideological provisions.” This is the first EPA appropriations bill that passed the House in seven years.  ASDWA will continue to track the details included in this measure, as amended, and share details with you as soon as they become available.  For a text of the bill, please visit:
Meanwhile, House leaders are also hedging their bets by deliberating over whether to (1) call for a short-term Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the government in operation until just after the elections and make use of a lame duck deliberative process for FY 17 funding or (2) to institute a 6-month CR that would punt FY 17 funding decisions to a new Congress and a new Administration.