Senate passes spending bill including EPA funding

Earlier in August, the U.S. Senate overwhelmingly approved FY19 appropriations legislation that would provide level funding for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and its water infrastructure financing programs next year.

The minibus, approved by a 92-6 vote, joined together four bills, including the fiscal 2019 EPA-Interior budget bill, a Financial Services and General Government appropriations package, Agriculture and the Transportation-Housing and Urban Development appropriations bills.

The EPA portion of the bill would provide the agency with more than $8 billion next year, roughly equal to its current appropriation. Within that sum, the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) would receive $1.164 billion, while the Clean Water SRF would be in line for $1.694 billion – mirroring each program’s current funding level.

The Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program would also stay level at $63 million, including $8 million that would be reserved to cover the program’s administrative expenses.  The WIFIA funding could be leveraged into at least $6 billion worth of loans to communities and states for major water infrastructure projects.

The Senate-approved bill also includes $15 million for an EPA grant program to help communities and low-income homeowners replace lead service lines. Another provision would extend a requirement that projects funded by the DWSRF use domestic iron and steel products.

The House of Representatives approved its own version of EPA appropriations legislation last month with similar, but slightly lower, funding recommendations for the SRF programs. A congressional conference committee will now attempt to negotiate a final spending package that includes EPA funding before the start of the new fiscal year in October.

Source: AMWA

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