Debate on an eight-bill funding package continued late into the night as the U.S. House plowed through 68 amendments to the large funding bill. The House continues debate on the remaining 156 amendments today. The House won’t wrap up the bill this week because many members want to return to their districts due to Hurricane Irma approaching Florida, which means final passage of the large omnibus bill will roll over until next week. Last votes this week will be on the continuing resolution, debt deal, and Hurricane Harvey relief package, which the Senate passed Thursday.
The U.S. House of Representatives has begun pushing through amendments to their omnibus spending bill, including:
- An amendment to restore funding for EPA’s Environmental Justice Program (Rep. Grijalva)
- An amendment to increase funding for EPA’s Lake Champlain program (Rep. Welch and Rep. Stefanik)
- An amendment to increase funding for EPA’s Southern New England program (Rep. Langevin)
- An amendment to increase funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund by $250 million (Rep. Katko; to increase this takes money from EPA’s Environmental Program Management account, which is where the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative sits)
- An amendment to strike a rider exempting U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from following public comment procedures for repealing the Clean Water Rule (Rep. Beyer)
- An amendment to prohibit U.S. EPA from using funding to enforce the Chesapeake Bay’s pollution diet (Rep. Goodlatte)
It is worth noting that this effort in the U.S. House is largely symbolic due to the fact that the omnibus exceeds the spending limit imposed on Fiscal Year 2018, and if successfully passed would trigger sequester cuts. These cuts are politically unpalatable in the U.S. Senate.
Today the U.S. Senate voted to extend the Debt Limit while also providing relief funding for Hurricane Harvey victims, a move that keeps the government open through December 8th.
The U.S. Congress is set to return to Washington next week following its annual August break to a busy schedule. With only a dozen legislative days free to work, the House and Senate’s tight schedule leaves little time to vote on a number of big issues, including raising the U.S. debt ceiling and keeping the government open. The House will likely kick off the fall work period next week by considering a large omnibus funding bill that includes the remaining appropriations bills that weren’t passed this summer. This includes the bills that fund U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Interior Department agencies, and U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Looking for relief from the headaches of flooded basements and streets following every heavy rain? Our Think Blue | Think Green Rainwater Reuse Fair provides solutions to these problems and hands-on education. The event will showcase how neighborhood residents can direct rainwater away from their homes to rain barrels, rain gardens, flower and garden beds, and community gardens. Local experts will be available to discuss these solutions, many of which can be done at low- or no-cost to neighborhood residents.
“Milwaukee homeowners can reduce flooding and save money by collecting and reusing rainwater in flower and vegetable gardens,” said Nicole Carver, co-chair of Milwaukee Water Commons’ Green Infrastructure Initiative. “We’ve seen a lot of interest in green infrastructure from local residents, and great organizations like the MMSD Center of Excellence, Groundwork and Reflo will be on hand to show folks how easy and cost-effective it can be to install green solutions in their yards.” Attendees of the fair can expect to learn about the different types of options available, and to access free or low-cost services.
“Nature-based solutions like those featured at the Rainwater Reuse Fair are good for communities, drinking water and the Great Lakes,” added Todd Ambs, campaign director for the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition. “The bottom line is communities around the region need help to fix, repair and modernize their drinking water and waste water infrastructure to keep communities and families safe, and we’re counting on the federal government to make investments in water infrastructure a top priority.”
Asian Carp Study to be Released
A long awaited study presenting options to protect the Great Lakes from Asian carp will finally be released August 7. The Brandon Road Study was due to be released in February, when the Trump Administration unexpectedly blocked it, causing concern in the wider Great Lakes community. Following a push by Great Lakes advocates and many Members of Congress, the Administration is now planning to release the study. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) and Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) announced the news Friday, July 28. Representatives around the region applauded the news, including Reps. Huizenga (R-Mich.) and Moolenaar (R-Mich.). Read more here.
Movement on Water Infrastructure
On Thursday, July 27, the House Energy and Commerce committee passed a bill that would fund drinking water infrastructure upgrades and repairs. The bill includes re-authorization of the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund with an increase on the amount of funding that can be allocated, from $1 billion to $2 billion. Additionally, the bill contains a grant program to remove lead-contaminated drinking fountains in schools. There’s language in the bill that would authorize the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to consolidate water utilities if they are found to be consistently violating public health rules.
The bill passed out of committee unanimously with bipartisan support.