The U.S. House finished debate on its Interior and Environment funding bill for the next fiscal year on Thursday. The bill contains funding for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, water infrastructure and other restoration programs at the following levels:
- Great Lakes Restoration Initiative: $300 million (same as FY18; $270 million higher than President’s request)
- Clean Water State Revolving Fund: $1.543 billion ($150 million more than President’s request)
- Drinking Water State Revolving Fund: $1.013 billion ($150 million more than President’s request)
- Great Lakes and Mississippi River Interbasin Study: $200,000 (same as President’s request)
- Electric Barrier: $18.920 million (same as President’s request)
The House bill rejects much of the President’s budget request, opting instead to maintain funding for important Great Lakes programs. The Trump Administration complained to the U.S. House of Representatives that the chamber’s Interior-EPA funding bill supports investments in Great Lakes restoration efforts—and those of other water habitat programs in areas such as the Chesapeake Bay—and rejects cuts proposed by the White House.
Todd Ambs, director of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition, said:
“What Great Lake is completely contained within one state? As any school child from the upper Midwest knows, the answer of course is none. I continue to be perplexed by this Administration’s continued insistence that funding for critical work to protect and restore the most significant freshwater resource on the planet should only be handled by ‘state and local entities,’ especially when the lakes are binational and cross many state and Tribal jurisdictional lines. States and local entities are and must remain integral partners in this work but they will never have the resources, nor the legal authority, to address the myriad regional, federal and international issues that impact the Great Lakes.
Fortunately, there continues to be broad support in Congress from Republicans and Democrats who understand that Great Lakes restoration programs are producing results for the environment and economy—and that these programs are essential for the more than 30 million people who depend on the lakes for their drinking water, jobs, and way of life. We will continue to work with bipartisan leaders in Congress to support the funding and policy solutions needed to address the serious threats to the Great Lakes and communities across the region, so that we can keep federal restoration efforts on track. Cutting funding now will only make projects harder and more expensive.”
The House bill provides about 25 percent more funding to the Environmental Protection Agency and Interior Department than the Trump Administration did in its budget blueprint from March. Since 2010, Congress has appropriated nearly $3 billion that has funded more than 4,000 projects which have cleaned up toxic hot spots, restored crucial habitat, helped to prevent the spread of invasive species and reduced excess nutrients that cause harmful algal blooms and degrade overall water quality. Great Lakes restoration funding is producing results, but more work remains.
During floor debate, the House accepted by voice vote a number of amendments offered by Great Lakes members, including:
- An amendment offered by Reps. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) and Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) to increase funding for Grass Carp prevention by $1 million (agreed to by voice vote)
- An amendment offered by Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) to prevent the Environmental Protection Agency from eliminating the Great Lakes Advisory Board (agreed to by voice vote)
- An amendment offered by Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) and John Moolenaar (R-Mich.) to increase funding for the U.S. Geological Survey’s Great Lakes Science Center (agreed to by voice vote)
The House adopted and rejected a number of other amendments including one offered by Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va) to stop a bad rider that would repeal the Clean Water Rule. The amendment failed by voice vote.