A House subcommittee has voted to increase discretionary spending over President Trump’s executive budget proposal next year in an appropriations bill that includes some wildlife-related programs.
The subcommittee’s proposed measure would increase discretionary funding by $14 million for Agriculture, rural development, the Food and Drug Administration and related agencies to a total of $23.27 billion.
This bill, including mandatory funding, totals $145 billion for fiscal year 2019, $922 million less than FY2018 levels. Mandatory allocations fund many Farm Bill programs like the Conservation Reserve Program, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program and the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program.
Some wildlife and conservation related program allocations are included in this package, notably funds designated for APHIS Wildlife Services and the Natural Resources Conservation Service. However, the subcommittee markup hearing largely focused on the more politically contentious elements of the funding package, including infrastructure and rural development allocations, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
The Wildlife Society has advocated for robust funding of certain APHIS and NRCS discretionary programs, such as Wildlife Services Wildlife Damage Management and NRCS Conservation Technical Assistance.
The bill provides $891 million for these NRSC discretionary operations, in line with TWS’ funding request. Under this measure, lawmakers also included infrastructure-related appropriations, including $160 million to assist rural communities in meeting watershed safety standards and $3.1 billion to improve and renovate agricultural research facilities. Specific, line-item funding appropriations are not provided for all programs in this bill but are expected in future drafts.
Representatives favorably sent the bill to the full House Committee on Appropriations by voice vote with no amendments, although changes are expected in the full committee hearing.
Developing appropriation bills is the fourth step in the federal budgeting process, following the proposal of an executive budget and the setting of spending allocations. This bill is one of 12 appropriation bills slated to move through Congress in the coming months.
Congress is working to pass all of the appropriation bills before the fiscal year ends on Sept. 30.
|Charlie Booher is a Policy Communication Intern at The Wildlife Society. Read more of Charlie's articles.|