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Congress passes appropriations bill, increases Interior funds
Last Friday, President Trump signed an omnibus spending bill containing all 12 fiscal year 2018 appropriations bills, preventing another federal shutdown this year when the most recent continuing resolution ran out.
The House passed the bill Thursday, voting 256 – 167, and the Senate passed it early Friday morning, voting 65 – 32. The bill includes $35.3 billion for the Department of the Interior and related agencies, $3 billion more than 2017 enacted levels.
The bill included $1.6 billion for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service — $75 million more than 2017 levels — $1.3 billion for the Bureau of Land Management — $79 million more than in 2017 — and $425 million for the Land and Water Conservation Fund — $25 million more than last year. Other wildlife and natural resource agencies also received increases in funding.
Before the bill was passed, environmental groups identified more than 80 policy riders that could have weakened the Endangered Species Act and other environmental protections. Many Democrats resolved to block the ”poison pill” riders and managed to eliminate most of them. The bill also complicates reorganization plans in the Department of the Interior and Environmental Protection Agency. It includes a provision to slow or prevent departments from dissolving offices or programs without Congressional approval.