Washington Update: Farm Bill Stalled and Water Resources Funding Advances

Thanks to past Farm Bill funding, replanted riverbanks absorb pollution before it enters our waterways. Photo courtesy of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Water Resources Development Act Moves Forward

Today the House Transportation Committee will meet to mark up the latest version of the Water Resources Development Act. The text of the bill, H.R. 8 was released last Friday and can be read here. The bill, much smaller than the Senate bill released earlier in May, is focused only on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It makes small changes to a number of Corps programs.  The House bill does not include any Great Lakes-specific provisions, nor does it include wastewater, drinking water, or stormwater programs, like its Senate counterpart. More information about the bill can be found here on the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure subcommittee’s website.

Farm Bill Stalls

On Friday the U.S. House narrowly voted down the latest version of the Farm Bill, 198-213. The Farm Bill is important in the Great Lakes region because it provides substantial conservation funding that help keep the ecosystem healthy, including the Regional Conservation Partnership Program. The bill failed for reasons unrelated to the content of the bill–members of the Freedom Caucus withheld their support until a separate vote was held on immigration–and so this version of Farm Bill is expected to come up for a vote again.

The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition is concerned about the current content of the Farm Bill, which now contains a bad amendment to repeal Clean Water Act protections for small rivers and streams. In the Great Lakes region alone, the amendment would threaten 30 million people’s drinking water, leaving it vulnerable to pollution. Nationally, 117 million people would be subjected to potentially unsafe drinking water if the amendment remains in the Farm Bill. In addition to this bad amendment, the House version of the Farm Bill would cut conservation funding.

The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition is withholding its support for the current House Farm Bill until funding is restored to conservation programs and damaging policy provisions are removed.

 

 

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