Senate budget resolution includes Interior funding after Democratic urging

Senate budget resolution includes Interior funding after Democratic urging
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The budget reconciliation framework released Monday by the Senate’s Democratic majority includes more than $200 billion for energy and environmental policy items, including funding for Interior Department programs Democrats were concerned could be excluded.

Under the framework described in a Dear Colleague letter Monday, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources would receive the instruction of $198 billion. This includes funding for a clean electricity payment program, as well as the addition of Department of Interior programs to the framework.

The potential exclusion of Interior programs from the framework had been a major bone of contention, with both activists and congressional Democrats urging Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck Schumer535 'presidents' with veto power: Why budget deal remains elusive The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Democrats insist budget consensus close as talks drag on Pricing methane and carbon emissions will help US meet the climate moment MORE (D-N.Y.) to ensure those funds were included in the framework.

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In a letter Friday, 13 Democratic senators representing western states called it “imperative” that the reconciliation process include major Interior and U.S. Forest Service programs.

“Without that funding it will appear the American West, and the millions of people who call it home, have been abandoned at a time when the rest of the country is seeing generational investments in their future,” they wrote.

In a separate letter, Democrats on the House Natural Resources Committee wrote that "We cannot claim to be taking climate change seriously if our budget does not invest in Interior Department programs aimed at mitigation and resiliency."

Separately, the framework includes $67 billion for the Environment and Public Works Committee, including funds for Environmental Protection Agency climate and research programs, federal funding for energy-efficient buildings and a fee for methane polluters to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It also includes $726 billion for the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, including funding for a Civilian Climate Corps, which has been a major agenda item for both environmental advocates and the White House.

The resolution separately includes funding for climate-related transportation initiatives such as clean energy, manufacturing and transportation tax incentives under the umbrella of Finance Committee funding.

The reconciliation process allows measures to pass the 50-50 Senate with a simple majority. The Senate has reached a separate bipartisan infrastructure agreement, which House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiBiden to meet House Dems before Europe trip: report On The Money — Will the billionaire tax survive Joe Manchin? Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by American Clean Power — Democrats prepare to grill oil execs MORE (D-Calif.) has said the House will only take up alongside a reconciliation package.

The National Wildlife Federation hailed the inclusion of the provisions in a statement.

“We’re incredibly grateful to Chair [Raul] Grijalva [D-Az.], Chair [Ron] Wyden [D-Ore.], Senator [Martin] Heinrich [D-N.M.] and all of the conservation leaders who helped ensure increased funding for the Department of the Interior in the budget reconciliation resolution," Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the group, said in a statement to The Hill. "Our public lands have an essential role to play in addressing the immense and interconnected climate, biodiversity, environmental injustice, and economic crises. We will work with Senate and House leadership to ensure these investments and the budget deliver for people and wildlife alike.”