The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee has released the remaining nine Fiscal Year 2022 spending bills, which include proposed funding for U.S. Department of the Interior and U.S. Forest Service conservation programs.
The Senate released three other spending bills earlier this year, including those proposing funding for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Agencies are currently operating under a Continuing Resolution at Fiscal Year 2021 spending levels, as the federal fiscal year turned over on Oct. 1.
Under the Senate bill, the Department of the Interior would receive $15.7 billion, with increases to programs The Wildlife Society supports. In comparison, the FY 2022 bill from the House of Representatives provided $15.6 billion for the DOI.
The Senate bill would allocate $80.4 million to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s State and Tribal Wildlife Grants program, an $8 million proposed increase from last year. The House bill included slightly more for the program at $82.3 million. The Senate bill also proposed $555.3 million to the National Wildlife Refuge System’s Operations and Maintenance account, with the House proposing $582 million, much closer to the administration’s request of $584.4 million.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management would see $219.78 million from the Senate toward wildlife and aquatic habitat management, with $31 million allocated to threatened and endangered species management specifically. The Senate bill also proposed a $2 million increase from FY 2021 for the U.S. Geological Survey’s Cooperative Research Units for a total of $27 million, nearly in line with the House’s proposal and TWS’ request of $27.5 million.
Similar to the House bill, the Senate legislation also addressed concerns over the decline of migratory birds in North America, including species protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The bill’s explanatory statement emphasized the Senates support for USFWS to work toward establishing an incidental take permitting program for migratory birds, a position long supported by TWS.
Although the Senate bill would provide significant funding for wildlife-related programs and agencies, the Senate must still reach a compromise with the House on spending. Existing FY 2021 funding expired on Sept. 30 and a continuing resolution was enacted to avoid a government shutdown and provide temporary funding for government programs through Dec. 3. If Congress does not come to an agreement over the 12 appropriations bills by this time, another continuing resolution or stopgap measure will be required in order to prevent a government shutdown.
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