House advances appropriations bills including wildlife funding

By Laura Bies

The House is moving forward with the FY 2021 appropriations process, with some increases in wildlife programs. Credit: BLM Oregon and Washington

The House Appropriations Committee passed two appropriations bills last week that would provide small increases to many wildlife management and conservation programs.

The U.S. House Committee on Appropriations advanced Fiscal Year 2021 spending bills containing funding for both the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of the Interior. Earlier this year, The Wildlife Society submitted written testimony to both the agriculture subcommittee and the Interior subcommittee providing recommended funding levels for programs pertaining to wildlife management and conservation.

The Interior appropriations bill, approved by the committee last Friday, would provide the department with $13.83 billion for FY 2021, $304 million more than FY 2020 and $1.8 billion more that the administration’s budget request.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would receive $1.6 billion, an increase of $37 million from FY 2020 and more than $200 million above the president’s request. That funding would include $511 million for the National Wildlife Refuge System, which The Wildlife Society recommended funding at $586 million. The USFWS budget would also include $78 million for the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants program, an increase of $11 million from FY 2020 and more than $47 million above the president’s budget request. The Wildlife Society recommended funding the program at $90 million.

The bill rejects the administration’s proposal to eliminate the Cooperative Research Units, within the U.S. Geological Survey’s budget. It would provide $25 million, an increase of $1 million, for the program, which was The Wildlife Society’s recommendation.

Overall funding would decrease slightly for the Bureau of Land Management, to $1.3 billion, which includes $72 million for sage-grouse conservation, and $102.6 million for the wild horse and burro program. The Wildlife Society recommended funding the wild horse and burro program at $116.8 million.

The agriculture appropriations bill would provide $1.07 billion for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, as well as $1 billion for farm bill conservation programs and $3.3 billion for agriculture research programs.

Both appropriations bills must now be approved on the House floor. House leadership wants to bring all 12 spending bills to the floor this month — a process that usually takes months. The Senate has not yet developed its appropriations bills, due in part to a disagreement between the parties about whether provisions related to the COVID-19 pandemic should be included in the FY 2021 appropriations bills or addressed in separate emergency spending legislation.

Visit our Action Center to weigh in with your Congressional delegation about wildlife funding in FY 2021.

Laura BiesLaura Bies is a government relations contractor and freelance writer for The Wildlife Society. She has a B.S. in Environmental Science and a law degree from George Washington University. Laura has worked with The Wildlife Society since 2005. Read more of Laura's articles.

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