Senate Passes FY 19 Interior & Environment Appropriations

For the first time in almost 10 years, the Senate has passed an appropriations bill that funds EPA as well as several other Federal agencies.  For the past several years, the Agency’s funding has come as part of either an extended Continuing Resolution or an Omnibus appropriations bill.  Senate leaders worked hard to find a bipartisan approach that ruled out many partisan policy amendments.  The strategy was successful and the measure passed Wednesday morning with a vote of 92-6.

The next step will be for the House and Senate to convene a conference committee to resolve the differences between the two measures. The Senate bill funds EPA at a total of $8.058 billion – just slightly more than appropriated in FY 18.  The House measure provides $7.96 billion for the Agency.  Although the House is not in session again until early September, staff from both Chambers will be working to identify opportunities for compromise.

The Senate bill did include two amendments that, if enacted, would affect state drinking water programs.  The first outlines requirements for EPA to implement the recommendations from the recent Inspector General’s report on lead in drinking water. Those recommendations ranged from improved monitoring effectiveness and corrosion control treatment protocols, incentivized elevation of issues of concern to senior managers, training for EPA staff and managers on SDWA tools and authorities, and development of an escalation policy in situations where a state fails to act.  Separately, the second amendment calls for more than $5 million of available EPA funding to be used for research on harmful algal blooms.

ASDWA will continue to monitor the funding bills and provide details to state drinking water programs as they become available.