House debates amendments to FY18 appropriations bill

The U.S. House of Representatives is currently working through the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies FY18 appropriations bill as part of a massive eight-bill omnibus package for fiscal year 2018 (FY18), which begins on Oct. 1. The Interior bill, which funds most of the major natural resource and wildlife-related federal agencies, passed through the House Committee on Appropriations in July, and is now on the House floor, where Representatives are debating a number of amendments.

Some of the amendments that have already passed, include:

  • An amendment by Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO) that would block funds from being used to implement or enforce the threatened species listing of the Preble’s meadow jumping mouse.
  • Another amendment by Lamborn that would prevent funds from being used to list a species as threatened or endangered if it has not undergone the requirements of Section 4 of the ESA.
  • An amendment by Rep. Don Young (R-AK) that would block funds from being used to limit some hunting and trapping on national preserves in Alaska.

Amendments that are still being debated by lawmakers, include:

  • An amendment by Scott Peters (D-CA) that would prohibit funds from being used to suppress, hinder, or block any report or public or congressional communication regarding the science related to climate change
  • An amendment by Jason Smith (R-MO) that would restrict funds to pay for legal fees under any lawsuit settlement that arises under the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, and the ESA.

A number of proposed amendments were ruled out of order by the House Rules Committee. The Rules Committee has control over amendments, debate, and when measures will be considered in the House. Late on Sep. 6, the House Rules Committee rejected an amendment that would have re-inserted prohibitions on any funds being used to euthanize wild horses. The amendment would have reversed the Stewart amendment that was passed in the House Appropriations Committee. The Bureau of Land Management has the authority to euthanize excess wild horses and burros under the Wild Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1971.

The House Rules Committee also blocked an amendment that would have prevented any funds from being used to make changes to national monument designations under the Antiquities Act. This amendment was submitted by Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) in response to U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s review that recommends shrinking some monuments. Another blocked amendment would have reversed a policy rider that would delist gray wolves under the Endangered Species Act.

The FY18 spending bill will continue to make its way through the House, with a vote on the full package expected later this month. The Senate Appropriations subcommittees are still going through the markup process for FY18 appropriations. Once the respective versions of the bill pass the House and the Senate, conference committees from both chambers will take the appropriations bills and reconcile the differences. Congress is expected to extend current FY17 spending through Dec. 15 to keep the government running past the end of FY17 on September 30, while negotiations of FY18 appropriations continue.

Learn more about the U.S. Federal Budgeting Process in Section 5 of TWS’ Policy Toolkit and the United States Congressional Appropriations Process Policy Brief.

Read TWS’ Issue Statement on Feral Horses and Burros in North America.

Read TWS’ Position Statement on The U.S. Endangered Species Act.

Header Image: ©NPS/Jacob W. Frank