U.S. Senate bill passes $37.5 billion package for Energy and Water Appropriations

By on May 17, 2016
California Water Legislation Coming Soon

Bill includes $100 for Bureau of Reclamation’s Western Drought Response program

The U.S. Senate passed the fiscal year 2017 Energy and Water Development appropriations bill late last week with funds specifically earmarked for drought plagued California. Senators from both sides of the aisle cited it as a model of the way the legislative process is meant to work.

The bill includes $100 million for the Bureau of Reclamation’s Western Drought Response program to help combat California’s drought and other Western states through direct, immediate actions to extend limited water supplies.

“Drought in the West poses a serious threat to the economic and social wellbeing of the United States,” Senator Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) said. “This $100 million is critical to operating water systems more flexibly and efficiently, restoring critical wetlands and habitat and ensuring that the best science and monitoring is being brought to bear on this crisis.”

The bill reflects a total $37.5 billion package to fund various energy and water programs, $355 million over last year’s funding. It is $261 million over President Obama’s funding request. The 2017 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill was coauthored by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)

“This is the first Energy and Water appropriations bill the Senate has passed under ‘regular order’ since 2009 and I hope it restores the committee’s ability to do its work and pass appropriations bills this year,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), ranking member of the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee. “Chairman Lamar Alexander was a great partner in this effort and a big reason we were able to pass this bill on its own for the first time in six years. I’m hopeful that the strong bipartisan vote is a sign that the Senate’s appropriations process can get back on track.”

Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), the chairman of the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee, said, “This appropriations bill is consistent with the spending limits Congress set last year, sets priorities that advance our nation’s goals, and eliminates wasteful spending. We did exactly what the Republican Senate majority was elected to do and we were mindful of the taxpayers’ dollars.”

In addition to the dollars allocated to the Bureau of Reclamation’s Western Drought Response program the bill also provides $344 million for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to fund the nation’s water infrastructure projects in California. Every one dollar spent on Army Corps of Engineer projects nets $16 in economic benefits.