Summary: FY 2003 Appropriations Senate Action Interior and Related Agencies

September 16, 2002

The Senate has been considering the 2003 Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations bill on and off since September 4. It will resume consideration of the bill Tuesday morning. Here's what has happened so far.

The Senate adopted a Daschle emergency drought relief amendment. The amendment provides for emergency financial assistance by the USDA Commodity Credit Corporation for crop and livestock losses. The estimated cost of the assistance is $5.9 billion. The amendment includes directed scoring that scores the cost against the Agriculture Committee, not the Appropriations Committee. A motion to waive the Budget Act, thus preventing a point of order against the amendment, was agreed to 79 to 16.

The Senate has adopted a number of other amendments, including the following related to DOI:

  • Sen. Murray. Provide $400,000 in statutory and contractual aid to the Vancouver National Historic Reserve, offset by a reduction in NPS construction.

  • Sen. Campbell. Authorize Rocky Mountain NP to obligate fees collected for transportation services in advance of receipt of the fees, so long as total obligations do not exceed annual collections. This would be a permanent provision.

  • Sen. Collins. Earmark $2 million in ESA recovery funds for Atlantic salmon recovery efforts.

  • Sen. Graham/Sen. Nelson. Direct Corps of Engineers to carry out Alternative 6D for the 8.5 square mile area feature of the Everglades Modified Water Deliveries project.

  • Sen. Hutchison. Earmark $500,000 within FWS construction for the World Birding Center in Mission, Texas. Offset by $500,000 reduction in FWS land acquisition, apparently from Lower Rio Grande Valley NWR, reducing that project to $500,000.

  • Sen. Kyl. Require the Director, NPS to report annually on the status of the Colorado River Management Plan.

  • Sen. Boxer. Express the sense of the Senate that no funds should be spent to approve exploration, development or production on the 36 undeveloped California OCS leases.

  • Sen. Cleland/Sen. Thompson. Express the sense of the Senate that the Congress should, to the maximum extent practicable, continue efforts to increase operational funding for NPS and should seek to eliminate the deferred maintenance backlog by FY 2007.

  • Sen. Reid. Earmark $750,000 in BLM MLR account for geothermal applications and wind-energy rights of way in Nevada. Earmark an additional $750,000 in MLR for realty personnel in Nevada.

  • Sen. Thomas. Earmark $750,000 in the Operation of the National Park System account for an independent and comprehensive management, operationsal, performance and financial review of Yellowstone National Park.

  • Sen. Byrd. Continue authorization for the National Business Center to enter into grants, cooperative agreements and other transactions under the Defense Conversion, Reinvestment and Transition Assistance Act. This would be a permanent provision.

Pending when the Senate takes up the bill on Tuesday will be a Byrd amendment to provide $825 million in emergency funding to repay Interior and Forest Service borrowing to cover the costs of this year's wildland fires. A cloture vote on this amendment is scheduled for late Tuesday.

Also pending is the Craig/Domenici emergency hazardous fuels reduction amendment. This is technically a second degree amendment to the Byrd $825 million repayment amendment. (The Daschle drought amendment described above is also technically a second degree amendment to the Byrd amendment.)

Two other pending amendments are:

  • Sen. Dodd. Prohibit expenditure of funds to recognize Indian tribes under adoption of specified administrative procedures.

  • Sen. Byrd. Provide $937 million in emergency supplemental funding for homeland security. The only DOI item included in this package is $17.7 million for Washington Monument security upgrades.