Western Caucus FY 2017 Omnibus Bill To Vote On May 3

Western Congressional Caucus

Voting On H.R. 244 Is Expected On Wednesday May 3

On May 1, 2017, the House Committee on Rules posted the text of H.R. 244 Senate Amendments to HIRE Vets Act [Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017]. (What is an Omnibus Bill?)This vehicle includes appropriations to fund the government through the end of fiscal year (FY) 2017 which ends on September 30, 2017. The 1,665 page bill includes $1.163 trillion in discretionary funding for 11 annual appropriations bills, provides additional resources for the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Act, extends health benefits for Appalachian coal miners in perpetuity, and allocates additional funding for Puerto Rico’s Medicaid program. This legislation funds Overseas Contingency Operations at $93.5 billion. The bill provides $8.2 billion for emergency and disaster funding. The legislation allocates $32.28 billion, $121 million above the FY16 enacted level, to DOI, EPA, USFS, the Indian Health Service and other agency programs. The bill includes $37.8 billion, $586 million above the FY16 enacted level, for nuclear weapon defense activities, the Army Corps of Engineers, BOR, DOE and other agency programs. This legislation provides $153.4 billion, $12.8 billion below the FY16 enacted level, for agriculture, nutrition, programs that support rural communities and other agency programs.

Wildfire Fighting and Timber

•    Provides $4.2 billion for wildfire fighting and prevention programs
•    Fully funds wildland fire suppression operations at the 10-year average level
•    Includes $570 million for hazardous fuels reduction programs, 25 million above the FY16 enacted level
•    Provides $407 million in emergency funding for the FLAME wildland fire suppression reserve account to help avoid fire borrowing
•    Includes $368 million for USFS timber program, $8 million above the FY16 enacted level
•    Includes rider to treat burning biomass as carbon neutral

Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT)

•    Provides $465 million in order to provide full-funding for the PILT program

Sage Grouse

•    Includes rider to prohibit funds to list the greater sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act and allows for future executive action
•    Provides $69.9 million for on-the-ground conservation activities, an increase of $8.9 million and directs funding be used for on-the-ground conservation activities

Environmental Protection Agency

•    Decreases overall funding by $81.4 million below the FY16 enacted level
•    Rejects Obama staffing increases and freezes agency positions at 15,000, the lowest level since 1989
•    Supports Trump E.O. to rewrite the Clean Power Plan
•    Directs the EPA to commission a report on administrative options for providing states regulatory relief from the Obama Administration’s Ozone Rule
•    Provides $4 million for long-term water quality monitoring as a result of the Animas River Spill
•    Encourages the EPA to work with states, small businesses and other stakeholders as the agency reevaluates the Obama Administration’s RMP rule

Clean Water Act, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation

•    Prohibits regulation of ditches and farm ponds
•    Supports Trump E.O. to rewrite WOTUS
•    Includes $6.04 billion, $49 million above the FY16 enacted level, for the Corps
•    Provides 1.31 billion for BOR, a $41.5 million increase
•    Includes $67 million to increase water storage

Oil and Gas Development

•    Blocks an Obama Administration proposal to impose $48 million in new fees on onshore oil and gas producers
•    Provides an additional $5 million to expedite domestic onshore and offshore energy and minerals development
•    Supports a review of Obama methane rules and other regulations that aimed to stifle oil and gas production
•    Directs the EPA to improve permitting times for oil and gas applications
•    Urges rejection of the Obama Administration’s USFWS oil and gas rule

Mining

•    Includes rider to prohibit new definitions for “fill material” and “discharge of fill material”
•    Includes $105 million for pilot program to reclaim abandoned mine lands
•    Provides $68 million for state regulatory grants
•    Requires report on permitting backlog for mining operations

Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF)

•    Funds LWCF at $400 million, $50 million below the FY16 enacted level

Federal Land Acquisition and Public Access

•    Includes $178 million for new land acquisition for BLM, USFS, NPS and USFWS
•    Directs DOI and USFS to notify Congress prior to closing an area to recreational shooting, hunting, or fishing for more than 30 days
•    Prohibits DOI from unilaterally creating new wilderness areas

Grazing

•    Blocks an Obama Administration proposal to impose new grazing fees
•    Extends grazing permits for fiscal year 2017
•    Extends by three years the requirement that litigants must first exhaust administrative review before litigating grazing issues in Federal court
•    Directs the BLM and Forest Service to free up grazing allotments for holders of grazing permits that are unable to use their designated lands due to drought or wildfire spending

Agriculture and Nutrition

•    Prevents implementation of the Obama Administration’s school lunch standards
•    Includes a $1.624 billion for Farm Service Agency, a $29 million increase
•    Provides $949.4 million for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, a $51.8 million increase
•    Provides $1.03 billion for the Food Safety and Inspection Service, a $17.2 million increase
•    Allocates $1.87 billion for International food assistance programs, a $4.42 million increase
•    Includes $1.27 billion for the Agriculture Research Service, a $86.1 million decrease
•    Provides $8.2 billion for Rural Utilities Service (RUS) loans
•    Includes $2.94 billion for Rural development programs, a $166.2 million increase
•    Allocates $22.8 billion for child nutrition programs (mandatory spending)
•    Includes $78.5 billion for SNAP food stamps (mandatory spending)

Indian Country

•    Establishes an Indian energy office to expedite permitting on reservations
•    Provides $891.5 million for K-12 education, a $39.1 million increase
•    Allocates $232 million above the FY16 enacted level for Indian healthcare

Fish and Wildlife

•    Includes a $3 million increase to reduce the fish hatchery deferred maintenance backlog and also prohibits hatchery closures
•    Caps funding for listing and critical habitat designations under ESA
•    Directs USFWS not to enter into settlement agreements unless States and local governments are parties to such agreements
•    Requires USFWS to report annually on use of funds for listings versus delistings
•    Directs USFWS to complete, report and act on all 5-year status reviews prior to initiating new status reviews

Department of Energy

•    Funds the Office of Science at $5.39 billion, a $41.8 million increase
•    Includes $2.1 billion for DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, $17.2 million more than the FY16 enacted level
•    Provides $306 million for Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), a  program the Trump Administration has proposed to eliminate
•    Includes $19.7 billion for atomic energy defense activities, a $1.1 billion increase
•    Provides $880 million for nuclear energy, a $20 million increase
•    Includes $660 million for fossil energy R&D, a $36 million increase
•    Provides $5.68 billion, a $90 million decrease for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
•    Funds NOAA’s Ocean and Atmospheric Research program at $477.7 million and funds climate research at $158 million

Removes several riders that passed the House including:

•    A rider to prevent funds to finalize the Obama Administration’s CERCLA rule
•    A rider to prevent funds for future designations under the Antiquities Act in counties with significant opposition
•    A rider to prevent funds for the Obama Administration’s ONRR valuation rule
•    A rider to prevent funds for the EPA to expand the Clean Water Act through unlawful guidance
•    A rider to prevent funds for the Obama Administration’s Well Control rule
•    A rider to prevent funds for the Obama Administration’s WOTUS rule
•    A rider to prevent funds for the Obama Administration’s new methane emissions rules
•    A rider to prevent funds for the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan rules
•    A rider to prevent funds for listing the lesser prairie chicken
•    A rider to prevent funds for national heritage areas in certain counties in Colorado
•    A rider to prevent the removal of any Federally-owned or operated dams
•    A rider to prevent funds for purchasing heavy water from Iran

Other

•    Makes Litigation Costs Transparent
–    Directs DOI, EPA, and USFS to provide Congress with detailed Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA) fee information
•    Directs DOI to work with Congress, tribes, and local stakeholders before making new national monument designations under the Antiquities Act
•    Includes $56 million for the NPS maintenance backlog
•    Encourages DOI, USFS, and EPA to disclose costs associated with analyses required under NEPA
•    Permanently provides $4.6 billion for health benefit plans for Appalachian coal miners who are members of the United Mine Workers of America
•    Includes $295 million in additional funding for Puerto Rico’s Medicaid program
•    Provides a $15 billion increase for defense spending
•    Includes an additional $1.5 billion for border and other security
•    Prohibits funding for the Green Climate Fund, the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and other Paris Climate Agreement entities
•    Continues a prohibition on the regulation of the lead content of ammunition and fishing tackle
•    Calls for a report on a plan to achieve long-term sustainable wild horse and burro populations on the range in a humane manner
•    Does not provide any funding for the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) Program
•    Encourages USFWS to reissue a rule to delist the gray wolves in the Great Lakes region upon a favorable court ruling
•    Does not include any riders to block the Obama Administration’s Onshore Orders
•    Requires report on appropriations for climate change programs in FY16 and FY17

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Don McDowell, Arizona native, is an avid outdoorsman and has been an active bass pro fisherman for over 16 years and in the past 15 years has developed his own radio show promoting bass fishing and conservation efforts for bass fishing that escalated to nominations with several bass groups and organizations. In the past 12 years, Don has pursued his conservation agenda through AZBFN-TBF as Conservation Director and with the Arizona Game and Fish Department, in the spring of 2014 redesigned his website to include those efforts highlighted below and has increased the AZGFD exposure, public education of the AZGFD and Commission issues on his radio show and website soliciting local and national support for Arizona. 2014 has seen the founding of SRT Outdoors, Inc., 501 C3 organization, “Not for Profit, for Conservation” which is concentrating on grants for mitigating the effects of Gizzard Shad on Roosevelt lake thorough habitat enhancement, Florida Strain Bass stocking, lakes bottom mapping, etc. and feral hog research.

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