Excerpt from an E&E story here (subscription needed).
House CR provides $600M to restore USDA wildfire shortfall
The House Appropriations Committee yesterday proposed a bill that would restore $600 million to Forest Service programs whose funding was siphoned last month to help pay for wildfire suppression.
The continuing resolution, which would extend government funding through mid-December, would also allow flexibility for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to maintain satellite programs that provide data for weather warnings and forecasts of severe weather events.
The bill would keep government programs funded at post-sequestration levels and is free of riders or policy changes, said Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.). However, riders contained in currently enacted appropriations legislation would carry forward, he said.
“Our country desperately needs a long-term budget solution that ends the draconian cuts put into place by sequestration and that provides for a responsible, sustainable and attainable federal budget,” Rogers said in a statement. “It is my hope that this stopgap legislation will provide time for all sides to come together to reach this essential goal.”
The overall bill would fund the government at $986.3 billion, slightly below current, post-sequestration levels.
The proposal comes about a month after Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell ordered his agency to halt spending on restoration programs, employee travel, hiring and overtime in order to scrounge up additional funds to fight wildfires (E&ENews PM Aug. 21).
That move angered lawmakers, conservation groups and timber interests, which warned it would delay important forest restoration activities that reduce the risk — and cost — of future catastrophic wildfires.