February’s Congressional Wrap Up

2019-04-01T11:29:29+00:00 April 1, 2019|
(Credit: Architect of the Capitol)

(Credit: Architect of the Capitol)

From: Ocean News Weekly/ By: Ocean Leadership Staff 

What Passed

The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2019 (H.J. Res. 31; P.L. 116-6) was signed into law on February 15 to avert another government shutdown as the continuing resolution (CR) (H.J. Res. 28; P.L. 116-5) extending fiscal year (FY) 2018 funding levels for parts of the federal government was set to expire. The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2019 funds several federal agencies, including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), through the end of FY 2019.

What’s New

In the House, the Coastal and Ocean Acidification Stressors and Threats (COAST) Research Act of 2019 (H.R. 1237) was introduced. This bill, supported by Consortium for Ocean Leadership, is intended to strengthen investments in the research and monitoring of ocean and coastal acidification to further understand the economic threats acidification poses to coastal communities. The Integrated Coastal and Ocean Observation System Act Amendments of 2019 (H.R. 1314) was also introduced in the House and reauthorizes the National Integrated Coastal and Ocean Observation System through FY 2024.

Climate change was a theme among legislation introduced in both chambers. The Climate Change Health Protection and Promotion Act of 2019 (S. 523 and H.R. 1243) would call for development of a national action plan to help health professionals prepare for public health crises due to climate change. Additionally, a bill calling for the federal government to appropriately consider climate change in the development of national security strategies and policies, the Climate Change National Security Strategy Act of 2019 (H.R. 1201) was introduced in the House. In the Senate, the Climate Change Education Act (S. 477) would establish a climate change education program at NOAA.

Bipartisan, bicameral legislation, the Offshore Wind for Territories Act (S. 499 and H.R. 1014), was introduced to authorize offshore wind energy development in the exclusive economic zone adjacent to the U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

What’s Next

With the release of the president’s budget request in March, appropriators will begin to write and pass appropriations bills for FY 2020. Appropriators must take into account the return of budget caps for the next fiscal year with the expiration of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 (P.L.115-123), which raised spending limits for FY 2018 and FY 2019. Unless Congress passes, and the president signs, a budget agreement that raises the caps and increases discretionary spending, cuts to our federal science agencies are inevitable.

We’ve updated our legislative tracker! Check it out for more detail on each bill, including information on sponsors, cosponsors, committee referrals, and more.

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