Thursday, June 7, 2012

Agriculture and Energy-Water Appropriations Bills Move Through House

House Agriculture Appropriations Bill Moving Through Committee
On Wednesday (June 6), the House Appropriations Committee's Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies subcommittee passed on a voice vote a fiscal year 2013 Agriculture Appropriations bill. The proposed bill would provide discretionary funds for various FDA and USDA programs, including agriculture research, food safety, animal and plant health, rural development and farm services, nutrition, and  various Natural Resources Conservation Service conservation programs. In total, the legislation provides for $19.4 billion in discretionary funding, which would be a cut of $365 million below last year’s appropriated level, and $1.7 billion below the President’s 2013 budget request. More details can be found in this Committee press release, and in this draft of the subcommittee's bill.  The bill now moves on to the full Appropriations Committee.

House Approves Energy and Water Fiscal Year 2013 Spending Bill
Also on Wednesday, the The House easily approved the fiscal year 2013 Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations bill (on a vote of 255-165). The bill provides funding for the Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works program and for the Department of Energy, and would provide those agencies with $32.1 billion in funding; $965 million below the President’s budget request. There were several amendments approved by the House that are especially relevant to Mississippi River Basin water resource issues, including those that would:
  • add $10 million in funding for the Army Corps of Engineers Louisiana Coastal Area ecosystem restoration project
  • add $2 million to the Corps of Engineers Construction account to address numerous flood control needs
  • make a symbolic funding transfer within the Army Corps of Engineers that highlights the issues surrounding the Missouri Flood Study and to encourage the prioritization of maintenance projects on the Missouri River
  • prohibit funding to continue the “Missouri River Authorized Purposes Study” (there was no funding for the study in the bill in any case)
Links to the bill language, accompanying report, and the measure's amendments can be found on this Appropriations Committee web page.
It's good to keep in mind, though, that during this election year, in particular, these individual spending bills may have much more to do with election position posturing than with any actual spending ability that Federal agencies will see anytime soon.

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