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WASHINGTON UPDATE

Family Farm Alliance   May 20, 2005

FROM: Joe Raeder
The Ferguson Group

House set to approve tight FY06 Bureau budget

The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote during the week of May 23 on a Fiscal Year 2006 appropriations bill for the Bureau of Reclamation (Bureau) that would reduce funding for the agency after four years of increases.

The FY 06 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill (H.R. 2419), approved by the House Appropriations Committee on May 18, provide $832 million for the Bureauís Water and Related Resources account, which funds the agencyís core programs. The figure is $60 million more than requested for FY 06 by President Bush, but $20 million less than the current (FY 05) level of funding for the Bureau.

In each of the past four fiscal years, Congress increased Bureau funding as compared to the Presidentís request and the previous yearís appropriations. But this year, the Appropriations Committees are under pressure to reduce federal spending in the face of a growing federal deficit. The House Energy and Water Development Subcommittee, which writes the Bureauís funding bill, has had far less money to appropriate than in the past, and the Army Corps of Engineers, which is funded by the same bill, also would see a reduction in its budget for FY 06.

Water 2025 and Title 16 Programs

The House bill eliminates funding for the Bureauís Water 2025 program, for which the Administration has requested $30 million, as well as for the Title 16 water reclamation and reuse program, a $1.2 million budget item. The Appropriations Committee contends that both initiatives lack current funding authorizations. The bill provides full funding, $35 million, for the California CALFED program.

 

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Site security costs

House appropriators approved the Administrationís request to make some post-9/11 security costs reimbursable as operations and maintenance expenses. Since 2001, the cost of beefing up security at Bureau facilities has been non-reimbursable. Last year and again this year, the Administration proposed making reimbursable costs associated with guards and patrols, while keeping the costs of physical security improvements a 100-percent federal expense.

Last year, Congress refused to implement the Administrationís request, and instead directed the Bureau to provide the Appropriations Committee with a report breaking out planned reimbursable and non-reimbursable security expenses by region. The Bureau sent that report to Congress on May 1.

The report said that for FY 2005, a total of $19.1 million will be spent on guard-related security expenses, of which $16.5 million would be attributable to power, and $2.2 million to irrigation, with most of the irrigation-related expenses in Californiaís Central Valley.

In a statement accompanying the FY 06 appropriations bill, the House Appropriations Committee agreed with the Bureau that guard costs should be reimbursable O&M expenses, and Committee directed the Bureau to collect those costs beginning in FY 2006. The Committee estimates that reimbursable site security expenses will total $10 million in FY 06, and it reduced the Bureauís requested $50 million appropriation for site security by $10 million.

Next Steps

While the House prepares to vote in its version of the FY 06 Energy and Water Appropriations bill, the Senate has not yet begun drafting its version of the measure. The Senate Appropriations Committee plans to vote on its Bureau funding bill early next month.

 

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