Federal Spending Omnibus: A Win for the Bay
We're happy to report there's good news out of Washington. On Friday, March 23rd, President Trump signed into law an FY18 omnibus spending bill that fully funds the EPA's Chesapeake Bay Program at $73 million.
The Bay Program is the glue holding the Chesapeake Bay Agreement together. An excellent steward of taxpayer money and a model of cooperative federalism, the Bay Program has enjoyed strong bipartisan support for decades. Despite this, the President's FY18 budget proposal threatened to eliminate this program.
Across the watershed, CBF members worked to preserve funding for the Bay Program. Through emails to members of congress and letters to local papers, we got the word out. A team of 20 super-committed CBF volunteers from Virginia met with their representatives on Capitol Hill. They educated members of Congress about how the Bay Program benefits their districts' local waterways through projects like planting underwater grasses, building oyster reefs, controlling runoff, and even starting a community garden.
Our advocacy helped steer Congress in the right direction. The newly passed spending bill contains no cuts to the Chesapeake Bay Program. The bill also funds NOAA's B-WET environmental education program and contains no cuts to the Farm Bill's agricultural conservation programs.
Additionally, the omnibus includes funding for the U.S. Geological Survey coupled with a statement of support for USGS' role in Chesapeake Bay Restoration. It also excludes a rider that would have undercut the EPA's ability to enforce the Clean Water Blueprint's pollution limits.
While we are encouraged by this success on the Hill, the fight is far from over. The President's FY19 budget proposal threatens to cut the Bay Program by 90%. Find and contact your member of Congress to tell them why the Bay Program matters to you. If we all speak up, we can make sure the federal government keeps its commitment to restoring the Chesapeake Bay.
Federal Policy Director
Chesapeake Bay Foundation