House Committee Marks Up FY 2019 Interior, Environment Appropriations Bill

two(May 15, 2018) – The House Appropriations Committee will be marking up their Fiscal Year 2019 (FY19) Interior and Environment Bill this week.  The bill provides funding for EPA and its programs that are important to the clean water sector.

The proposed legislation provides increased funding for the State Revolving Funds (SRF) of $300 million for a total of $2.6 billion, a level above the FY17 amount but a decrease over the FY18 enacted levels that provided a $600 million increase.  Both the Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water SRFs each received an additional $150 million. $75 million is provided for the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program, an increase of $12 million over FY18 enacted levels.  Additionally, the legislation maintains current funding levels for EPA’s largest geographical program, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), at $300 million.

The bill rejects several of President Trump’s proposed cuts in his FY19 budget proposal, including drastic cuts to EPA; however, the bill does cut $100 million in EPA’s budget for a total of $7.95 billion in FY19 compared to currently enacted levels of roughly $8.1 billion.

Mark up of the proposed House bill represents just the first step in the FY19 budget appropriations process.  The Senate must still release and mark up its bill – which NACWA anticipates will contain higher funding levels for the SRFs – and then both chambers must come to an agreement on a final spending package and sent it to the president for approval.  Final funding numbers for FY19 will not likely be known until September at the earliest.  NACWA will remain closely engaged with Congress as the appropriations process moves forward to ensure the highest level of funding for clean water priorities.   

While Congress is considering FY19 funding, Republicans are also reconsidering approved spending for FY18. Last week the Administration requested, and House Republican leadership released, a “rescissions” package of proposed cuts to previously authorized spending. The package is being promoted as a way to help alleviate the federal deficit following a year which saw increased spending, as well as tax reform which the Congressional Budget Office estimated will add nearly $2 trillion to the federal debt over 10 years.

Republican leadership is working to see whether they have sufficient votes to pass the bill. Of note to the clean water sector, the package includes proposed rescissions of $10 million from EPA water research programs and significant cuts to US Department of Agriculture conservation programs. However, it does not appear that Congress has the votes to pass this legislation. NACWA will keep members informed if these proposed spending cuts gain traction.

NACWA will continue to provide updates as the FY19 appropriations process moves forward and will continue our strong advocacy to ensure that the momentum gained in FY18 for increased water infrastructure funding remains in FY19.  Please contact Jason Isakovic, NACWA’s Legislative Director, to discuss further.