Government Shutdown (-28 days)
Today, we need your feedback. We recently posted a blog, “It’s Time to Bring Back Earmarks.” Some say yes, some say no, some say ‘just for the Corps.’ We need to know what YOU think. Historically, earmarks are an important part of the appropriations process, but often get a bad rap in the media due to the a few bad apples that soured the cider for the rest of Congress. Whether it was to trade one Members’ projects for the another’s project to reach an agreement, or for the purposes of accountability, we believe earmarks are a critical part of the appropriations process, and need to come back (even if it is solely for the Corps, we’ll take it). If you have an opinion, please take 5 seconds to let us know in our poll: Is It Time to Bring Back Earmarks?
It’s day 28 of the shutdown, but don’t worry about your disaster-funded projects. Corps officials and the President have both said that no disaster funds will be used for the border wall. Meanwhile, the threat is still pending for projects deemed less important to the national interest. The White House has ordered the Corps to search for money within its own budget that could be used to fund the $5.7 billion dollar border wall.
President Donald Trump does not plan to divert money from a nearly $14 billion account the Army Corps of Engineers has to cover the wall, according to White House spokesman Hogan Gidley. That figure is about to go up. Keep reading! (New Bills in Congress)
“The President met with leadership of the Army Corps of Engineers to discuss methods of construction for the barriers along the southern border, but they did not discuss, and there are no plans to take money from disaster relief funding to pay for any potential projects,” Gidley said. A group of bipartisan members of the House warned Trump away from that approach in a letter. And if built, it will not be built by military personnel. If it is built, it will be built by civilian contractors.
Pennsylvania Joins Paris Climate Agreement - On June 1, 2017, Trump ordered the U.S. to cease participation in the 2015 Paris Agreement joined by President Obama. Since then more than 20 states and 50 major cities have agreed under the United States Climate Alliance to meet the requirements of the agreement. Pennsylvania is the most recent to join the other states. However, in order to meet the Paris Agreement’s commitments for 2025, Federal action is required.
Green New Deal - In a letter to Members of Congress, more than 600 advocacy groups provided explicit detail supporting the ‘Green new deal.’ Akin to Roosevelt’s New Deal during the Great Depression in the 1930’s, the Deal is a four part program for moving America ‘quickly out of crisis into a secure, sustainable future.’ While the plan may seem extreme now, the question is what is more extreme – Curbing emissions and enforcing environmental regulations now or dealing with relentless natural disasters that will plague human health and prosperity for centuries to come if climate change is not addressed now? The plan proposes transparency throughout the government, but comes close to a socialist proposal. It in many ways departs from the American capitalist mindset, and places an emphasis on equal access to common human needs and resources – like education, jobs and healthcare. The plan is broken into four parts: The Economic Bill of Rights, A Green Transition, Real Financial Reform and a Functioning Democracy. It’s a short read and has some common sense principles in it, like removing the electoral college and opting for direct elections. While some parts may be disagreeable, having even some parts of this plan implemented in the new Congress will be favorable for our nation and for the planet’s future.
But, for the time being read ahead to see the new bills in Congress that come close, like the Climate Solutions Act of 2019 (New Bills in Congress, below).
Pelosi has already announced the formation of a Climate Committee – The House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, lead by Kathy Castor, (D-Tampa Bay). Rep. Ruppersberger (D-MD) says that the committee ‘needs more teeth.’ We agree, we’ll take all the teeth we can get.
House T&I gets new Republican members – Click here to view them.
In addition, there are new ranking members on the Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment. Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-AR) – Now serving his third term in Congress, Rep. Westerman worked to ensure passage of last year’s Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), which was included in the America’s Water Infrastructure Act. He is the previous Chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the Committee on Natural Resources
A new Member on the Appropriations committee – Congressman Charlie Crist (D-FL), representing Florida’s 13th District (St. Petersburg). He has ascended to the A-List committee after 28 years in public service, serving as a Florida State Legislator, Attorney General, and eventually Florida’s 44th Governor. His priorities in the 116th Congress include:
- Protecting the Everglades;
- Combating Harmful Algal Blooms, including red tide and blue-green algae;
- Bolstering community development and aid programs for underserved communities;
- Funding for FEMA flood mapping and disaster mitigation efforts;
- Funding for Army Corps shore protection projects;
- Increasing funding for NOAA marine research;
- Supporting the four U.S. Coast Guard stations in Florida’s 13th District, MacDill Air Force Base, and the many critical defense installations in Florida; and
- Protecting and strengthening benefits for the 1.5 million veterans who call the Sunshine State home.
All nominations for Administration appointed positions not yet confirmed by the Senate in 2018 must be resubmitted and confirmed in 2019, including the appointees from the USFWS Aurelia Skipwith (Acting Director).
New Bills in Congress
We can’t find some bill numbers and some bill texts (oh, maybe because the Government is shut down!?) so please bear with us, we’ll provide as much information as we deem useful at the moment.
- Climate solutions act of 2019 HR. XX To Reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the protect the climate.
- HR 731 - To permanently prohibit oil and gas leasing off the coast of the State of California.
- HR XX – COAST Anti- Drilling Act - To amend the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to permanently prohibit the conduct of offshore drilling on the outer Continental Shelf in the Mid-Atlantic, South Atlantic, and North Atlantic planning areas [Reintroduction of S 1042 and companion bill HR 1977 (both 114th Congress)].
- HR 268 – SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATIONS for fiscal year ending September 30th, 2019. For which sums ($1.245 billion for the Corps Civil Works) are to remain available until expended. The entire bill is roughly $12 billion. For context, this year’s Work Plan was $6.733 billion, meaning this year’s supplemental will be 18.5% of the entire Corps budget for FY19. That’s better than last year’s $17 billion. (PASSED HOUSE)
- HR 462 - To amend the Water Resources Development Act of 2000 to provide for expedited project implementation relating to the comprehensive Everglades restoration plan. [Reintroduction of HR 2691 (115th Congress)]
- HR 472 - To allow communities to develop alternative flood insurance rate maps. (Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services - No Text Yet Published)
- HR 471 - To provide for greater transfer of risk under the National Flood Insurance Program to private capital and reinsurance markets. (Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services - No Text Yet Published)
- HR 470 - To repeal the mandatory flood insurance coverage requirement for commercial properties located in flood hazard areas. (Referred to the House Committee on Financial Services - No Text Yet Published)
- HR 469 - To require the use of replacement cost value in determining the premium rates for flood insurance coverage under the National Flood Insurance Act. [Reintroduction of HR 2565 (115th Congress)]
America’s carbon dioxide emissions rose by 3.4 percent in 2018, the biggest increase in eight years.
An analysis concluded that Earth’s oceans are heating up 40 percent faster on average than a United Nations panel estimated five years ago, a finding with dire implications for climate change.
Brandon Road Lock and Damn proposal expected by end of February as desperation grows to keep Asian Carp out of Lake Michigan.
Did you miss…
Steve King wishing for a more ‘homogenous’ America where ‘we all look the same.’ Skip to 11:20.