Senate appropriators release draft environmental bill

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Those discussions will likely involve an omnibus 12-bill package rather than seeing the House and Senate appropriations committees restart the 2013 funding process in January. Already the 2014 process will be looming for the hard-working committees. If the GOP takes control of the Senate, the draft bill could be moot, however.

Discretionary spending could also be on the table when Congress meets in the lame duck to figure out a way to replace a $109 billion across-the-board sequester of funding, part of the so-called fiscal cliff. The House has proposed a combination of discretionary cuts and mandatory social program cuts to replace all of the sequester of defense funds.

Sens. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), the chairman and ranking member of the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations subcommittee, agreed to release the draft.

“While Congress has passed a short-term continuing resolution, we hope this final draft document will serve as a roadmap as discussions continue to finalize a responsible, balanced fiscal year 2013 appropriations bill,” they said.

The environment bill contains $1.66 billion above a House-passed 2012 bill.


The House bill cuts the Environmental Protection Agency by $1.4 billion, about 17 percent, compared to current funding. The GOP points out that this brings the EPA below fiscal 1998 funding.

The Senate draft bill has EPA funding at $1.46 billion higher than the House mark of $7.1 billion and an increase of $66 million above 2012 levels.

Whereas the House bill contained a number of environmental riders, including one stopping EPA from expanding its ability to regulate “navigable waters” under the Clean Water Act, the Senate does not have these riders.

Reed and Murkowski’s bill has more money for the Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving Funds and Land and Water Conservation Fund than the House version.
 
It also has more funding for the arts. For example, the draft provides a $54 million increase over the House bill for the Smithsonian Institution, for a total of $843 million. It also provides an additional $22 million each above the House mark for the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities.