By Eric Hansen
Even though Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) began on October 1, Congress has not yet passed a full year federal funding bill or appropriations bill. Currently, the federal government is operating under a short-term extension, or continuing resolution (CR), that is set to expire on December 11. Without additional action by Congress, the government will be forced to shut down.
Fortunately, the Senate released their draft FY21 appropriations bill last week, funding the federal government through September 2021. The House released, and began moving, their own version of this legislation last summer, though the Senate declined to act at that time. With proposals from both chambers now public, work can begin in earnest to draft a compromise bill for President Trump to sign.
Funding levels for NACD’s priority programs are in the table below:
|Program||FY 2020 Final||NACD FY21 Request||House FY21 Draft||Senate FY21 Draft|
|Conservation Operations||$819.5 million||$840 million||$833.8 million||$831.9 million|
|Watershed Operations||$150 million||$200 million||$155 million||$175 million|
|Watershed Rehabilitation||$10 million||$75 million||$12 million||$0|
|State and Private Forestry||$335.5 million||$347 million||$300.3 million||$245.4 million|
|319 Nonpoint Source||$170.9 million||$173.7 million||$188 million||$176.3 million|
These funding levels place us in a good position going into Congressional negotiations. As the table above shows, the draft bills have differences. However, each draft increases funding for Conservation Operations, Watershed Operations and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 319 Nonpoint Source Program. The House increases funding for Watershed Rehabilitation as well.
While some of these proposed funding levels fall short of NACD’s requests, we are glad to see the increases in funding over FY20. State and Private Forestry is the clear outlier in the table above. Looking at the table, it appears that both the House and Senate are proposing to cut this budget item. However, this is not the case. “State and Private Forestry” is a single budget line that comprises a cluster of programs, including Urban and Community Forestry. Both the House and Senate propose reconfiguring this budget item in different ways. The Senate draft funding level is on par with last year’s funding, while the House’s draft increases funding.
Additionally, we are glad to see that neither the House nor the Senate has proposed cuts to mandatory farm bill conservation program funding. These farm bill programs are funded through the farm bill, rather than the annual appropriations process. However, in the past, Congress has cut funding for these programs in the appropriations legislation in order to pay for other priorities. It has been several years since Congress last cut funding for these programs, and we appreciate the continuing commitment to maintaining full farm bill conservation program funding.
For more information on NACD’s annual appropriations priorities, visit our Issue Papers webpage.
NACD will now be watching Congress closely to see how appropriations negotiations take shape. This is arguably the most important responsibility for Congress remaining this session. While NACD does not anticipate a government shutdown, we will all breathe a little easier after President Trump has signed the FY21 appropriations legislation.