ICYMI: President Trump signs Omnibus Spending and COVID Relief Bill, Uplifting American Families, Investing in American Infrastructure and Enhancing American Conservation

Last edited 03/12/2021

WASHINGTON – Earlier this week, President Trump signed into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, providing $1.4 trillion for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2021. In addition to funding the Federal government, this Act delivers coronavirus emergency response and relief.

“Everyday President Trump fights for the American people, holding leaders accountable and making the government more responsive to the real needs of the American people. His leadership in securing this significant budget uplifts American families, strengthens our economy, invests in our infrastructure and enhances key conservation initiatives,” said Secretary of the Interior David L. Bernhardt.

Enhancing Conservation, Outdoor Recreation & Wildfire Prevention

President Trump has made enhancing our nation’s conservation initiatives a top priority, signing several historic conservation bills, including the John D. Dingell, Jr. Conservation, Management, and Recreation Act and the Great American Outdoors Act. Unlike other Administration’s before it, the Trump Administration succeeded in enacting permanent full and mandatory funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and put in place funding to address the long discussed but never solved the problem of the maintenance backlog at our national parks and other public lands. The President also opened or expanded 4 million acres of land to new hunting and fishing opportunities, recovered the most endangered or threatened species in history for the first term of an Administration and treated 5.4 million acres of land to prevent wildfires – a 49 percent increase in comparison to the last 4 years of the previous Administration.

Here are some notable highlights in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 that Interior supported to improve conservation:

  • Great American Outdoors Act – Provides full funding through the National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Fund for priority projects addressing the maintenance backlog at national parks, wildlife refuges, public lands and American Indian schools and full funding through the Land and Water Conservation Fund to protect and conserve lands and waters across the country as identified by Interior.
  • Wildfire Management – Provides $992.6 million ($40.3 million more than 2020) for Interior wildfire management activities, including fire preparedness, fire suppression, fuels management, burned-area rehabilitation, fire facilities and fire science, in addition to $310 million ($10 million more than 2020) for the Wildfire Suppression Operations Reserve Fund. The funding would allow Interior to provide grants to train non-Federal fire departments and similar groups to fight wildfires.
  • National Recreation and Preservation – Provides two-year funding for the National Recreation and Preservation Account, allowing the National Park Service to more efficiently and effectively manage available resources and adjust for disruptions in a fiscal year.
  • Sage Grouse – Provides $74 million for sage-grouse conservation.
  • Long Bridge Project – Permits the National Park Service to convey lands for purposes of transportation and recreation for the Long Bridge project.
  • 1908 Springfield Race Riot Site – Authorizes the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a special resource study of areas associated with the 1908 Springfield Race Riot, which Secretary Bernhardt proclaimed as part of the African American Civil Rights Network on Aug. 21, 2020, and make recommendations on its possible inclusion as a unit of the National Park System.
  • New River Gorge National Park and Preserve Designation – Redesignates the New River Gorge National River in West Virginia as the "New River Gorge National Park and Preserve" totaling approximately 7,021 acres expanding recreational access.

Supporting Western Water and Tribal Sovereignty

Over the past four years, the Bureau of Reclamation has been implementing provisions of the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act (WIIN) to modernize existing water infrastructure, enhance storage capacity and protect species and habitats in the western United States. For fiscal years 2017-2020, Congress has supported over $300 million for study and construction of storage projects requested by the Trump Administration.

Here are some notable highlights in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 that Interior supported to improve the delivery of water in the west:

  • The following storage projects were named in the bill text to receive funds from FYs 2017-20:
    • Friant-Kern Canal Capacity Correction Resulting from Subsidence
    • Boise River Basin—Anderson Ranch Dam Raise
    • North-of-the-Delta Off Stream Storage (Sites Reservoir Project)
    • Los Vaqueros Reservoir Phase 2 Expansion Project
    • Cle Elum Pool Raise (Yakima)
    • Delta Mendota Canal Subsidence Correction
    • Del Puerto Water District
    • San Luis Low Point Improvement Project
    • Sacramento Regional Water Bank
  • Montana CSKT – Authorizes, ratifies and confirms the Confederated Salish and Kootenai-Montana Compact, one of the most significant Indian Water Rights Settlements in the Interior’s history, and provides funding for its implementation. The bill provides $1.9 billion to be used for the rehabilitation and modernization of the Flathead Indian Irrigation Project, mitigation of damages to natural resources, administration of the Tribal water rights, and more.
  • Bureau of Reclamation Aging Infrastructure – Establishes an aging infrastructure account to fund Reclamation’s existing extraordinary maintenance program to improve existing water and power delivery infrastructure for system reliability, safety and conservation.
  • Navajo-Utah Water Rights Settlement – Approves the Navajo-Utah Water Rights Settlement, resolving water rights claims of the Navajo Nation on the San Juan River in the Upper Colorado River Basin in Utah.
  • Aamodt Litigation Settlement Completion – Finalizes the Aamodt settlement by increasing the agreed-upon federal cost ceiling by $137 million, extending the substantial completion date by four years (2028) and authorizing the agreement to settlement cost-overruns reached between the U.S. and the Aamodt settlement parties.
  • Aquifer Recharge Flexibility – Provides greater flexibility for Reclamation to use its facilities for aquifer recharge.

Ensuring Better Government Services

From relocating the Bureau of Land Management headquarters to Grand Junction, Colorado to overhauling the Departmental Ethics Office at Main Interior, Secretary Bernhardt has made improved delivery of government services a top priority.

Here are some notable highlights in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 that Interior supported to improve government services:

  • BLM Relocation – Keeps the Bureau of Land Management in Grand Junction, CO.
  • Federal Lands Recreation Fees – Extends FLREA, Interior’s authority to collect and spend recreation fees at National Parks and other Federal lands, through October 1, 2022.
  • Medical Services Fund – Operation of the National Park System account can appropriate amounts collected in the Medical Services Fund (authorized in the Dingell Act).
  • FOIA Processing – Builds on Secretary Bernhardt’s commitment to reforming FOIA by providing $1.86 million of new funding for the Office of the Solicitor and an increase of $860,000 over current funding levels for the Office of the Secretary to increase the processing capacity of the Interior’s FOIA program and reduce the FOIA request backlog.
  • Tribal Leases – Establishes a new separate Treasury account providing indefinite budget authority for payments made by Tribes and Tribal organizations carrying out Federal functions under a self-determination contract or self-governance compact under the Indian Self Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDEAA) section 105(l) lease program. Also directs Interior and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to consult with Tribes regarding the requirements for 105(l) leases.
  • Reinstating Medicaid Eligibility to Micronesians, Marshallese and Palauans in the United States – Restores Medicaid eligibility to citizens of the freely associated states, who live and work in the United States and its territories, as provided for under the terms of the Compacts of Free Association and for whom eligibility was removed in the 1996 Welfare Reform Act.
  • Payment in Lieu of Taxes – Extends the authorization for full funding of the Payment in Lieu of Taxes program, ensuring assistance to local governments with nontaxable Federal lands within their boundaries. PILT funds help to carry out vital services such as firefighting and police protection, construction of public schools and roads, and search-and-rescue operations.
  • Sharing Arrangements with Federal Agencies – Extends access to Federal Employee Health Benefits and Federal Employees Group Life Insurance to Bureau of Indian Education “297” grant schools, bringing them into parity with federally-operated BIE schools and BIE schools operated by Tribes through “638” contracts.


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