Friday, December 16, 2011

Congress to Pass Megabus Federal Spending Bill Today

Last evening members of a joint Senate-House Conference Committee agreed to the provisions of a massive ($1 trillion) Federal appropriations ("megabus") bill that, when approved by Congress and signed by the President later today, will fund the Federal government through the remainder of the 2012 Fiscal Year (FY).  The bill package is the same as the 1,219-page Consolidated Appropriations bill package posted late Wednesday night by House appropriators, with the exception of two changes in provisions related to relationships with Cuba and the funding level for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.  For an updated summary of the three-bill package, you can visit here (PDF file). 

Notably, with respect to Mississippi River Basin natural resource issues, the substantial (18 percent) cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency's budget and provision of flood control reconstruction money to the Army Corps of Engineers remain identical to those described in our article on the consolidated bill package here.

House Democrats were able to resolve most of the major disagreements that they had with their Republican colleagues regarding legislative riders to the appropriations bills.  You can find the summary of the legislative riders that remain and key funding levels in the legislative package here (with a nod to NWF's Joshua Saks (Senior Legislative Representative) for this latter link).

UPDATE:  Final passage of the spending package came on a 67-32 Senate roll call vote on Saturday, which followed on a 296-121 bipartisan House vote on Friday afternoon.  A rider added at the last minute to the spending package blocks the Army Corps of Engineers from implementing updates to the U.S. water resource management policy (known as the "Principles and Guidelines" under development by the White House Council on Environmental Quality) for the next Fiscal Year (see this Environment and Engineering news article on the rider and its impact - PDF file).

The rider, in its entirety, reads:
"Water Resources Principles and Guidelines.-No funds are provided for the line item proposed for Water Resources Principles and Guidelines, as this is considered a new start. No funds provided to the Corps shall be used to develop or implement rules or guidance if an update or replacement to the document dated March 10, 1983, and entitled "Economic and Environmental Principles and Guidelines for Water and Related Land Resources Implementation Studies" is finalized during the fiscal year period covered by the Energy and Water Development Act for 2012. The Corps shall continue to use the Water Resources Principles and Guidelines in effect as of the date of enactment of this Act during that same period."

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