Sens. Mike EnziMike EnziBudget committee approves Trump's OMB deputy Senate GOP paves way for ObamaCare repeal bill Senate returns more pessimistic than ever on healthcare MORE (R-Wyo.) and Tom UdallTom UdallDems, greens press Trump administration on methane rewrites Overnight Regulation: House passes bill to roll back Dodd-Frank | Sage grouse back in the spotlight | GOP chair won't back Glass-Steagall revival Overnight Tech: FCC disputes reporter's account of 'manhandling' incident | Verizon to cut 2K jobs at Yahoo | Russians used spyware on Instagram | Virginia moves on 5G networks MORE (D-N.M.) urged leaders of the Senate Appropriations Committee to keep a $425 million program, Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT).

They argued the program helps localities offset losses from non-taxable federal lands. Enzi and Udall said without that funding, counties would experience economic hardship. 

“Property taxes fund county governments allowing them to provide essential services such as law enforcement, public safety, infrastructure maintenance, education, and health services for local communities. A fully funded PILT program helps to offset the loss of these important revenues and fulfill the federal governments’ obligation to local communities with large amounts of federal land,” the senators wrote in a letter Monday to committee Chairwoman Barbara MikulskiBarbara MikulskiBipartisan friendship is a civil solution to political dysfunction Dems press for paycheck fairness bill on Equal Pay Day After 30 years celebrating women’s history, have we made enough progress? MORE (D-Md.) and ranking member Richard Shelby (R-Ala.).

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Mikulski and Shelby are working on an omnibus spending bill that Congress needs to pass by mid-January to avert another government shutdown.

“We urge you to consider the economic hardship and uncertainty that counties across the nation will face if the PILT program is not given consistent funding,” the letter stated. “We understand the Appropriations Committee has some tough funding decisions in the coming weeks and we appreciate your consideration of this important issue.”

Annual PILT payments are computed by the Department of the Interior based on the number of acres of federal entitlement land within each county or jurisdiction and the population. The lands include the National Forest and National Park Systems, the areas managed by the Bureau of Land Management, those affected by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation water resource development projects.

Fifteen other senators joined Enzi and Udall — most from states with large amounts of federal land and forests. Sens. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) and Tim Scott (R-S.C.) also signed the letter.