Timely Funding Hope for EPA Fades

There was great enthusiasm this year to move all 12 FY 2019 appropriations bills before the end of the Federal fiscal year (September 30).  This would have been the first time since FY 1995 that the House and Senate came to agreement on funding levels for the Federal government without resorting to a continuing resolution.

EPA’s funding (included in the Interior-EPA appropriations measure) was coupled with that for USDA, the Financial Services administration, and Transportation-HUD.  This bundling (called a minibus) was designed to help Congress work through complex issues in smaller “bites” rather than trying to balance competing priorities from all 12 bills at once.  For EPA, the House and Senate funders were about $1 million apart.  Negotiators were hopeful that compromises could be found to fund the Agency well above the Administration’s budget request of $6.1 billion.  Significant progress was made throughout the summer and the expectation was that remaining sticking points could be resolved.

By September 26, however, it became apparent that the effort would fail.  Policy riders attached to both the Interior-EPA and Financial Services components of the minibus could not be resolved before the fiscal year deadline.  Funding for EPA and six other appropriations accounts would have to be included in a Continuing Resolution or face a government shutdown at the end of the month.

Anticipating this possibility, Congress included language in the Defense appropriations bill (passed on September 26) that created a Continuing Resolution for Federal funding through December 7.  As a result, while the Agency will continue operating at last year’s funding levels ($101.9 million for PWSS and $1.16 billion for DWSRF), no further negotiations are likely to take place on FY 19 funding until after the November elections.