Senate approves budget deal that could boost EPA funds

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Last week the Senate signed off on a bipartisan, two-year budget deal that lays the groundwork for lawmakers to make progress on FY20 appropriations bills this fall. The budget agreement, which the House of Representatives previously approved, will now be signed into law by President Donald Trump.

The budget framework increases the FY20 nondefense base discretionary budget limit to $622 billion, a $17 billion boost over the FY19 ceiling. Congressional appropriators will now divide this $622 billion sum among the nondefense budget accounts that are funded through the annual appropriations bills. According to the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA), while the topline increase does not guarantee more funding for any particular department or agency, the larger pot of available discretionary funding could present an opportunity for increased EPA appropriations.

While the budget deal represents an increase over FY19, the agreement’s $622 billion figure falls short of the $673 billion in nondefense discretionary funding that Democratic House appropriators chose to use as a guide earlier this year when they began marking up FY20 spending proposals. That higher figure led the House of Representatives to approve an EPA spending bill worth a near-record $9.53 billion. But unless lawmakers divert a significant amount of available budget authority to EPA, the agency’s final FY20 appropriation is likely to fall below that sum.

According to AMWA, the budget deal paves the way for lawmakers to make real progress on FY20 appropriations bills this fall. While the House of Representatives has approved its versions of most FY20 bills based on their higher budget figure, the Senate had waited until a budget deal was in place before offering any legislation. Assuming Senate appropriators can begin moving their legislation in September, both chambers will begin negotiating final spending bills as the new fiscal year approaches on Oct. 1.

Source: AMWA


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