June 2016 Update on LWCF FY 17 Appropriations and Re-authorization efforts

House passes Energy Bill, but does not include LWCF re-authorization, as in the Senate. The House May 25 threw everything but the kitchen sink into a comprehensive energy bill (S 2012) before clearing the measure for a conference with the Senate.  Although the House did not include permanent authority for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) in its version of S 2012, the counterpart Senate-passed bill would make LWCF permanent.

Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, offered a motion on the House floor directing House conferees to accept the Senate LWCF provision, but it was defeated in a 205-to-212 vote. Grijalva said the popularity of LWCF argued for inclusion of it in the conferenced energy bill.  “There is no doubt that many of the provisions in the House and Senate energy bills are controversial,” he said.  “It is, frankly, difficult to see a path toward a bipartisan conference report.  In such a contentious conference situation, a provision reauthorizing a program as widely popular as LWCF would play a constructive role in moving toward consensus.”

But House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) said the House should not insert in the energy bill provisions the whole House has not approved yet.  “This now asks us to do something that has never been endorsed by the House.  In fact, it is quite the opposite,” he said.  

House subcommittee moves lean Interior spending measure      Despite last year’s budget agreement that calls for increased domestic spending, a House spending subcommittee May 25 approved a fiscal year 2017 Interior and related agencies bill with less money than in fiscal 2016. The House subcommittee on Interior appropriations passed a bill with a ceiling of $32.095 billion, or $64 million less than a fiscal 2017 appropriation of $32.159 billion.

For individual programs such as federal land acquisition from the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) the subcommittee recommended a fiscal 2017 appropriation of $145.8 million, or $88.4 million short of a fiscal 2016 appropriation of $234.2 million.  The subcommittee also would reduce the state side of LWCF by $30 million, reducing it from $110 million to $80 million.