WASHINGTON, DC -- The U.S. House of Representatives passed two more federal funding bills today for fiscal year 2019 (FY19), including the Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill and the Financial Services Appropriations Bill. U.S. Rep. Harold "Hal" Rogers voted for the legislation, which contains several benefits for Kentucky, including $30 million for the state's Abandoned Mine Land (AML) Pilot Grant Program to help revitalize the land and economy in coal producing counties. The appropriations package also boosts rural broadband expansion, economic development, WYMT-TV's efforts to be carried on satellite, and work to curb the drug abuse crisis.
"As we work to make America better, this funding package sets up rural communities for success through support for economic development and investments in programs that will improve our future from broadband to life-saving programs, like Drug Courts," said Rogers, Chairman Emeritus of the House Appropriations Committee. "We are attracting new jobs and more innovative opportunities across southern and eastern Kentucky every day, and this legislation provides the support necessary to ensure those efforts continue and grow."
The Interior Appropriations bill contains a total of $35.3 billion, funding programs that protect and make the best use of domestic natural resources, that provide investments in infrastructure such as improvements for drinking water systems. The bill also makes strides to rein in harmful regulations at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill contains a total of $23.4 billion, targeting those funds to financial law enforcement and safety, efforts to fight opioid abuse, and programs that provide investments and opportunity for small businesses. The bill also continues efforts to continue to implement the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017” at the Internal Revenue Service.
Kentucky Highlights in the FY19 Interior and Environment Bill:
- AML Pilot Program – The bill includes $120 million for this program in six states, of which $30 million will be for Kentucky. The program revitalizes abandoned mine land and spurs economic development in struggling coal-producing counties.
- Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – The bill funds EPA at $7.958 billion, $100 million below the FY18 level. Within this total, EPA’s regulatory programs are reduced by $228 million below the current level. The legislation supports the President’s proposal to reshape the Agency’s workforce by providing resources requested to offer buyouts and voluntary separation agreements to employees.
The bill also targets additional funding provided by the recent budget agreement to infrastructure programs, including:
- a total of $2.6 billion for the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund, which states and localities use for water infrastructure projects, and
- a total of $75 million for the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) program to leverage federal dollars to provide financing for more than $8 billion in water infrastructure projects.
- Waters of the United States (WOTUS) Rule –The bill fully repeals the Obama Administration’s 2015 job-killing WOTUS Rule.
- Office of Surface Mining/AML Regulatory Grants – The bill includes $68.59 million for these regulatory grants.
Kentucky Highlights in the FY19 Financial Services Bill:
- WYMT-TV in Hazard, Ky. – The report contains language aimed to help WYMT receive satellite carriage in the future. Specifically, the language directs the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to follow congressional intent and put a premium on the value of local news programming when considering broadcast stations' petitions, like WYMT's, to be carried on satellite.
- Fighting the Opioid Epidemic – The legislation contains $415 million for the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). Within this amount, the bill provides $280 million for High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) and $118 million for other federal drug control programs, such as the Drug-Free Communities Program and drug court training and technical assistance. In addition to these funds, the bill provides an extra $15.4 million over the budget request to the US Postal Service Office of Inspector General to continue drug interdiction efforts and investigations.
- Microloan Technical Assistance Program– The bill includes $31 million. This funding will help small businesses that would otherwise not be able to receive small and short-term loans to fill critical funding needs from traditional financial institutions.
- FCC Rural Broadband Expansion– The report contains language encouraging the FCC to allocate Universal Service Funds for broadband expansion in rural and economically disadvantaged areas. Deployment of broadband in rural and economically disadvantaged areas is a driver of economic development, jobs, and new education opportunities.
For a list of amendments considered to the legislation, please visit: https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/6147/all-actions?r=1&overview=closed#tabs
For the text of the draft bill, please visit: https://docs.house.gov/billsthisweek/20180716/BILLS-115HR6147HR6258-RCP115-81.pdf
For the draft bill reports, please visit:
Interior and Environment: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CRPT-115hrpt765/pdf/CRPT-115hrpt765.pdf
Financial Services and General Government: https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/CRPT-115hrpt792/pdf/CRPT-115hrpt792.pdf