House passes appropriations bills

By Laura Bies

The House has passed legislation with its funding levels for the departments of Interior and Agriculture in FY 2021. Credit: Bob Wick/BLM

The House has passed a package of Fiscal Year 2021 spending bills that would provide stable funding for the departments of the Interior and Agriculture for the 2021 Fiscal Year starting Oct. 1.

With the August recess approaching, the House of Representatives has continued to pass spending legislation for FY 2021. Late last month, the House approved two ‘minibus’ bills, which each combine several spending bills into one package.

The House passed the spending package containing FY 2021 appropriations for the departments of the Interior and Agriculture, along with State and Veterans Affairs, on July 24. Within the bill, funding for the department of the Interior would increase slightly to $13.83 billion, which includes an increase in overall funding for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The State and Tribal Wildlife Grants program and the National Wildlife Refuge System would both see increases, to $78 million and $511 million respectively. The Wildlife Society recommended funding the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants program at $90 million and the refuge system at $586 million.

The bill would also reinstate funding for the U.S. Geological Survey’s Cooperative Research Units, providing $25 million, an increase of $1 million, for the program, which was The Wildlife Society’s recommendation. Funding for the Bureau of Land Management would decrease slightly under the bill.

Within the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture would receive a slight increase for research programs. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service would be funded at $1.07 billion. In addition, $1 billion was included for farm bill conservation programs.

An amendment to the minibus would prohibit oil and gas drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Another would put limits on the drilling allowed in Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve.

The Senate has not yet released or voted on its appropriations bills. With the current debate over stimulus legislation related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the upcoming August recess, the Senate is unlikely to pass their spending legislation before the current fiscal year ends on Sept. 30. If that is the case, Congress will likely resort to a short-term spending bill known as a continuing resolution to fund the government and avoid a shutdown, until final spending levels can be agreed on.

Read the testimony TWS submitted to the House Interior Appropriations Agriculture subcommittee and the Interior subcommittee 

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.

Share your thoughts on this article, and others, on our Facebook and Twitter pages.