To close out the fiscal year last month, House passed a stopgap spending measure, or continuing resolution (CR), to fund the government through November 21, 2019. The current fiscal year expired on September 30, and without a second stopgap measure or the approval of Fiscal Year (FY) 2020, we will expect a government shutdown.
The House passed 10 of its 12 FY2020 appropriations bills before the August recess; however, the Senate waited until the final hour in September to pass its FY20 appropriations bills. The additional time offered by the continuing resolution allows the House and Senate to continue negotiations on full appropriations for the rest of FY 2020 over the next few weeks.
Here’s what the Senate’s FY20 Environment & Water Development appropriations bill includes:
- $48.66 billion—an increase of $4.22 billion above the FY19 enacted level.
- It funds the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) at $7.75 billion, an increase of $751.5 million above the FY19 enacted level. The House version contains $46.4 billion and funds the USACE at $7.36 billion.
- Both bills contain $15 million for the National Levee Safety Program’s levee inventory, which is triple the amount of funding the program has ever received and is a step toward raising our nation’s “D” levees The National Levee Safety Program promotes consistent safety standards, creates levee safety guidelines, and provides funding assistance to states and regional districts for establishing participating levee safety programs.
The Senate’s FY20 Interior & Environment appropriations bill includes:
- $9 billion for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), or about $200 million more than its current funding level.
- It also funds the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) at $1.1 billion and the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) at $1.6 billion, both of which are on par with current funding levels.
- The Water Infrastructure Finance & Innovation Act (WIFIA) program is funded at $73 million, which is $5 million more than the current funding level. The House bill includes $9.53 billion for the EPA. It funds the DWSRF at $1.3 billion, the CWSRF at $1.78 billion, and the WIFIA program at $45 million.
ASCE supports all three of these programs as critical funding and financing mechanisms to help raise our nation’s “D” drinking water and “D+” wastewater grades.
While the House’s FY20 Homeland Security appropriations bill did not include any funding for the High Hazard Potential Dam Rehabilitation program, the Senate stepped up to the plate and funded the program at $10 million, which is consistent with the FY19 funding level, but nowhere near the program’s fully-authorized $40 million. This program provides federal grant assistance for the rehabilitation, repair, or removal of non-federal high hazard potential dams. Ensuring funding for this program is just one of ASCE’s recommendations to raise our nation’s “D” dams grade.
Both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees have voted out their Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD) spending bills, which will need to be reconciled under conference. In both bills, ASCE made the following requests:
- Full funding for core highway and transit programs included in the FAST Act. The House bill provided overall funding above the authorization levels for core programs, while the Senate bill provided less funding for core programs. The FY19 funding level was overall consistent with core program authorization levels.
- $4.35 billion for the Airport Improvement Program (AIP). The House bill included funding at the authorization level of $3.35 billion plus a $500 million supplemental, while the Senate bill included a $450 million supplemental. The FY19 funding level was $3.35 billion plus a $500 million supplemental.
- $1.5 billion for the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant program. Both the House and Senate bills fund the program at $1 billion. The FY19 funding level was $900 million.
- $ 2.6 billion for the Transit Capital Investment Grant (CIG) program. The House bill includes $2.3 billion for the program, while the Senate bill includes $1.9 billion. The FY19 funding level was $2.3 billion.
Any House and Senate bills whose funding numbers do not align will head to a conference committee to iron out differences before Congress can vote on a final spending bill.