The legislation passed last week keeping the federal government open also included a number of benefits for Idaho, according to the Idaho congressional delegation.
The entire delegation voted to pass H.J. Res. 31, which funds about one-quarter of the federal government through the end of fiscal year 2019. The legislation contains many important priorities that will directly benefit Idaho and provide funding for border security, according to the delegation. Specifically, the legislation funds the Agriculture; Commerce, Justice, Science; Interior and Environment; Financial Services; State and Foreign Operations; Transportation, Housing and Urban Development; and Homeland Security and Related Agencies appropriations bills for fiscal year 2019.
The bill contains numerous provisions which directly benefit Idaho.
- Includes full funding for Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) which results in Idaho counties receiving more than $30 million, which fulfills the federal government’s responsibility to counties with tax-exempt federal lands.
- Provides full funding for the 10-year average for wildfire suppression costs at the Forest Service and Department of the Interior including an additional $500 million for the Forest Service suppression operations. The fire-borrowing fix that was championed by the Idaho delegation will be implemented in fiscal year 2020.
- Retains previous years’ cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and specifically reduces the regulatory programs by over $15 million and prioritizes funding for the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Loan fund, which states and local governments use for water infrastructure projects.
- Includes language that prevents listing of sage grouse as an endangered species and adequate funding for sage grouse conservation.
- Continues previous years’ language that blocks the proposed closure of the U.S. Sheep Experimental Station in Dubois, Idaho.
- Directs EPA, U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA), and DOE to establish clear policies regarding the carbon neutrality of biomass, which is an important energy source and part of an all of the above energy strategy.
- Includes language reiterating to the Department of the Interior and the Forest Service that States' have jurisdiction over water law and the expectation that all applicable laws will be followed when considering a request for a permit or permit renewal.
- Includes funding for Native American communities to help improve infrastructure and health care needs.
- Includes language that directs the Bureau of Land Management to work with the State of Idaho on aquifer recharge.
- Includes language directing the FDA to develop a standard identity for dairy based on existing standards, which is similar to Senator Risch and Congressman Simpson’s bipartisan DAIRY Pride Act.
- Includes language that reverses an Obama era regulation that created barriers for potatoes to be included in the school breakfast program. The rider was inserted by Congressman Simpson during a House Appropriations Committee markup seen here.
- Provides funding for the USDA Rural Utilities Service Circuit Rider program, which helps fund rural communities to provide safe and affordable drinking water.
- Provides funding for National Institutes of Food and Agriculture for potato and wheat research.
“I supported today’s measure because it takes a step toward making our communities safer,” said Sen. Mike Crapo. “Bicameral, bipartisan appropriators diligently advanced a compromise proposal that addresses urgent priorities in the seven outstanding appropriations packages. For homeland security, this agreement provides more than $1.3 billion for physical security barriers along portions of our border that have been designated as the highest priority by our Border Patrol. Additionally, it provides an unprecedented $22.5 billion for overall border security initiatives that includes law enforcement personnel and drug trafficking prevention. Locally, this bill will also fund the Payment in Lieu of Taxes program, which provides funding to Idaho’s counties to make up for lost revenues from federal ownership of lands. The president has also indicated he intends to declare a national emergency to use specific powers to secure our border. We need additional physical barriers securing our border. In the coming days, I will work closely with my Senate colleagues and with the White House to learn the details of the president’s intentions and how they will be implemented.”
“We need significantly more than 55 miles of wall to fully protect our southern border, but this bill makes a down-payment on the wall while future funding is negotiated. Plus, I absolutely did not want to see another government shutdown. Shutdowns are bad for our economy and bad for the American people. We will keep working until the entire border wall is funded,” said Sen. James E. Risch.
“I’m very pleased that the Congress has fulfilled its most basic of obligations through this agreement to keep the government open. As in all compromises, neither side got everything they wanted. But at the end of the day, this legislation provides Idaho with the necessary funding and policy provisions to help rural counties, prevent and fight wildfires, and includes important research for our agricultural economy,” said Congressman Mike Simpson. “It moves the ball forward in our border security efforts and will allow the administration to continue its successful and necessary efforts to roll back regulations and deliver the tax cuts which were passed during the last Congress.”
“This is a less than perfect bill and a less than perfect process, but here is what it came down to for me: H.J. Res. 31 provides about $22 Bi in funding for border security and nearly $1.4 Bi directly for a physical barrier -- both critical for security and humanitarian purposes. Other components include support for Israel and the blocking of federal funds used for abortions,” said Congressman Russ Fulcher. “The bill also funds two efforts affecting Idaho that cannot afford to be neglected: Wildfire suppression and the PILT program (payment in lieu of taxes) -- lifelines for our counties that are predominantly comprised of federal lands. It is unfortunate that bills like this contain such broad content. I am working hard to introduce a single-subject clause in Congress to avoid situations like this in the future.”