Why It Matters One of Congress’s major responsibilities is funding the federal government through the appropriations process. When this is not completed at the start of the fiscal year (October 1), it can lead to uncertainty and problems, such as delays on federal grant distribution, hiring freezes, and operational challenges at national parks, to [...]
What Passed The budget reconciliation process was used for tax reform last month in both chambers. The House passed their tax reform plan (H.R. 1) along party lines, which included provisions to impose taxes on graduate student tuition waivers and to end deductions of amount paid on student loan interest. The Senate version, which [...]
NDD United, which was established after the Budget Control Act of 2011 (P.L. 112-25) created caps on spending through 2021, works to ensure nondefense discretionary (NDD) federal spending is treated on par with defense spending. NDD United held a briefing “Faces of Austerity 2.0: How Budget Cuts Continue To Make Us Sicker, Poorer, And Less Secure” in conjunction with their release of a new report with the same title.
The Senate Commerce, Science, & Transportation Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard held a hearing on the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA; P.L 109-479) reauthorization on Tuesday titled “Reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act: Fisheries Science.” The MSA, the nation’s primary law to regulate commercial and recreational fisheries, has enabled rebuilding of numerous U.S. fish stocks and decreased overfishing. Over the last 41 years, science-based management has played an increasingly important role, which should continue with this reauthorization.
The Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Federal Spending Oversight and Energy Management held a hearing, “Broken Beakers: Federal Support for Research.” Subcommittee members agreed on the importance of research and its daily benefits, but the role government should play in funding studies was split along party lines. The three main points of contention had to do with research merit, proposal selection process, and return on investment.
One bill in COL’s legislative tracker, Continuing Appropriations Act, 2018 and Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Requirements Act, 2017 (H.R. 601) was signed into law this month. It includes a continuing resolution to fund the federal government below Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 levels (there was a 0.7 percent across-the-board cut) through December 8, extends the National Flood Insurance Program through the same date, and provides $15.25 billion in emergency disaster relief funds. The Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act, 2018 (H.R. 3354), which consists of all FY 2018 House appropriations bills, passed out of the House this month by a vote of 211-198.
The House voted to pass H.R. 3354, the Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act, 2018 along a largely party line vote (211-198). Congress has until December 8 to pass bills funding federal agencies for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 (thanks to a three-month continuing resolution approved two weeks ago) or the government shuts down. The House has now passed all 12 bills in one omnibus package.
To avert a government shutdown at the end of Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 (September 30), the Senate and House both voted to pass a short-term continuing resolution (CR), Continuing Appropriations Act, 2018 and Supplemental Appropriations for Disaster Relief Requirements Act, 2017 (H.R. 601). Simultaneously, the House began floor debate on an omnibus consisting of eight spending bills, the Make America Secure and Prosperous Appropriations Act, 2018 (H.R. 3354).
Making science-based decisions requires data and information. Ocean and coastal policies and management decisions also require current and robust observations and monitoring. All three bipartisan bills will advance monitoring and research of the ocean, Great Lakes, and fisheries through grants, linking programs (ICOOS and FOARAM) and topics (ocean observations with sound and with economy), and by updating important indices.
Nothing in COL’s legislative tracker was signed into law this month, but several items did pass out of committee, the House, or the Senate. Notably, the Save Our Seas Act of 2017 (S.756) passed the Senate with unanimous consent last week. The legislation (and its counterpart in the House (H.R. 2748)) reauthorizes and amends the Marine Debris Act (P.L. 109-332) “to promote international action to reduce marine debris.”
Dry weather continues to be problematic for Western states, and climate change predictions indicate droughts will only worsen. The president’s budget request for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 proposes funding cuts to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) by 16 percent – and the proposed four percent decrease to the agency’s National Weather Service would challenge the program. The National Weather Service plays a crucial role in understanding drought patterns, preparing communities for limited water availability, and helping scientists understand the changing climate. Stakeholders say forecasting research and technology innovations are key to future preparedness.
On Thursday, the House passed an appropriations “minibus” (H.R. 3219) in a mostly-partisan 235-192 vote. The minibus combines the Department of Defense, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, Energy and Water, and Legislative Branch appropriations bills; Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (NJ-11) said the package “ensure[s] the safety of the homeland and the American people.” An effort from several Democrats, led by Representative Chellie Pingree (ME-1), to reverse the National Ocean Policy implementation funding prohibition was rejected 192-235.