Natural Resource Agency Funding Derailed

By Zachary Sheldon

House of Representatives
Image Credit: Ron Cogswell via Flickr

The vote on the House’s Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bill was slated for Thursday, July 9th. However, last minute disagreement on amendments regarding the Confederate flag caused the bill to be pulled from the floor indefinitely. Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) stated that the bill would not be voted on “until we come to some kind of resolution on this.”

The bill appropriates funding for agencies critical to wildlife and natural resource management, including all agencies under the Department of Interior, the U.S. Forest service, and other related agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency. Pulling the bill from the floor adds complication and uncertainty regarding funding for these agencies for the 2016 fiscal year.

Controversy started Tuesday evening when Representatives Jared Huffman (D-CA) and Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) introduced three amendments which would restrict the display and sales of Confederate flags at national parks and federal cemeteries on public lands. These three amendments were all passed by voice vote on the House floor. Near the close of the debate Wednesday evening, Representative Ken Calvert (R-CA) introduced an amendment that would undo the previously approved amendments.

Debate on these amendments erupted in the House on Thursday morning. As it became apparent no resolution would materialize, Republican leaders in the House pulled the bill from the floor, where it will remain in limbo until House leaders decide to reintroduce the bill. Boehner stated the appropriations bill is “going to sit in abeyance” until Representatives work out the controversy surrounding the Confederate flag amendments.

With no time frame for talks on the House appropriations bill to resume, it is now uncertain when the Senate will begin debate on their own Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriation bill. It is unlikely that talks will start on either bill before the next recess in August. This leaves the Department of Interior and other agencies funded through these bills in the dark about what to expect for upcoming year. As the October 1st deadline to approve the budget approaches it will become increasingly difficult for those agencies to give feedback on the funding levels and any new amendments before the passing of the bills.

Sources: E&E News, Breitbart News Network

Zachary Sheldon is a policy intern at The Wildlife Society as part of the Government Affairs & Partnership program.

Read more of Zachary's articles.