House Approves Fiscal 2013 Funding Bill, Clearing Measure for President's Signature

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By Patrick Ambrosio  

The House agreed March 21 to adopt the Senate's changes to legislation (H.R. 933) funding the federal government through the end of the fiscal year, clearing the measure for President Obama to sign into law.

The House, on a vote of 318-109, agreed to the Senate proposal, which would cut about $136 million from the Environment Protection Agency and make smaller cuts to Interior and Energy department programs. The legislation includes full fiscal 2013 appropriations bills for Homeland Security, Agriculture, Commerce-Justice-Science, Defense, and Military Construction-Veterans Affairs and altered funding levels for other federal agencies.

The Senate passed its version of the bill March 20 on a 73-26 vote.

The funding levels included in the bill are subject to sequestration, the automatic discretionary spending cuts of 5 percent required under the Budget Control Act of 2011 (Pub. L. No. 112-25).

President Obama, who is on a diplomatic trip to Israel, is expected to sign the bill into law before March 27, when the continuing resolution that is funding the federal government will expire.

The Senate moved to pass the bill after approving a substitute amendment that made significant changes to a House bill that extended funding for most federal departments and agencies at current levels.

The Senate's substitute amendment, which was adopted on a vote of 70-29, contains full-year fiscal 2013 appropriations bills for Homeland Security, Agriculture, and Commerce-Justice-Science, and altered funding levels for other federal agencies and programs, including EPA, Interior, and the Energy Department.

The funding levels included in the legislation are subject to automatic discretionary spending cuts of 5 percent as required under the Budget Control Act of 2011 (Pub. L. No. 112-25).

After adopting the substitute amendment, the Senate, on a vote of 63-36, voted to invoke cloture and limit further debate on the amended version of H.R. 933.

Cuts to State Environmental Grants

The legislation would cut fiscal 2013 funding and rescind previously appropriated funding for the clean water and drinking water state revolving funds, which fund state and municipal water infrastructure projects.

The legislation also would cut $17 million from the clean water state revolving fund and $10 million from the drinking water fund. The water infrastructure revolving funds would each see $10 million in unobligated money that was appropriated in past fiscal years rescinded.

The legislation also would cut $40 million from the superfund program, $11.1 million from land and resource management activities at the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management, $18 million from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and $11 million from the Energy Department's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

Biofuel Funding Cut Rejected

The Senate rejected an amendment introduced by Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) that sought to cut $60 million in funding for the Defense Department's Advanced Drop-In Biofuel Production Project. The amendment, which was subject to a 60 vote threshold for adoption, fell on a vote of 40-59.

The biofuel project aims to support the development of advance biofuels that could be used by DOD as a substitute for conventional fuels.

The Senate on March 14 did approve an amendment filed by Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) that would block EPA from enforcing oil spill prevention rules on farmers through the end of fiscal 2013, which are found at 40 C.F.R. Part 112.

The rules require the operators of facilities that store, transfer, or use large quantities of oil or oil products to have established spill prevention plans. Inhofe has introduced a separate bill (S. 496) that would permanently block EPA from enforcing the rules on farms.

By Patrick Ambrosio  


The substitute amendment to H.R. 933 adopted by the Senate is available at http://op.bna.com/env.nsf/r?Open=fwhe-95qqjc.