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Legislation & Public Policy Issues in Preservation     


Legislation & Public Policy Issues in Preservation
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Super Committee Deliberations Falter and Automatic Spending Reductions Loom for Historic Preservation Funding
Historic Preservation Blog from PreservationDirectory.com -
Contributed By: National Trust's Public Policy Department and Center for State and Local Policy
Website: http://www.preservationnation.org/resources/newsletters/trustee-bulletin/Public-Policy-Weekly-Bulletin-2-1-1-2-2-3-23.html

As Congress prepared to recess for its Thanksgiving break, the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction continued to work behind the scenes on a plan this week that will reduce spending by $1.2 billion over ten years as part of a debt-ceiling bill compromise enacted in August. 

With the committee’s deadline of producing a spending reduction bill by November 23rd fast approaching and the lack of any signs of compromise, the prospect of the Super Committee's failure to enact a plan has considerably raised the specter of automatic across-the-board cuts in FY'13 that could have long-lasting and devastating effects on historic preservation funding.  In addition, the fact that the panel must produce an outline of their plan by November 21st in order to give the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) enough time to include the accompanying score of the bill makes it even more unlikely that an automatic sequester can be avoided.  If the Super Committee is deadlocked or otherwise unable to make this report, defense and other spending cuts affecting FY13 spending will automatically be activated and become effective January 2, 2013. 

Just how big an impact these automatic cuts on historic preservation funding and discretionary spending may be determined by a countermovement in the Senate GOP ranks to either eliminate the spending reduction trigger altogether or to change the actual distribution of automatic spending cuts from 50:50 between defense and discretionary spending accounts. 

The argument being presented by Senate Republicans is that defense would suffer a disproportionate share of cuts and harm national security.  However, a change in the ratio of the cuts would mean deeper cuts in discretionary spending as a result which could spell even more harm to historic preservation funding.  In response, Senate Majority Leader Hary Reid (D-NV) stated this week that he would not vote to undo the automatic sequester if the select committee does not reach agreement and President Obama has threatened to veto any bill that attempts to do the same.

Amidst all of the Super Committee hoopla, the FY’12 Interior bill is likely to be included in a year-end omnibus which may not be formally conferenced and could suffer additional across-the-board cuts.  A temporary continuing resolution (CR) is in effect until December 16th that contains House-approved funding level ($48.758 million) for the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF).   However, the Senate has approved a much higher level of funding ($64 million) for the HPF but it remains to be seen whether appropriators will agree to perhaps split the difference.  The National Trust is working with a broad-based coalition called America's Voice for Conservation, Recreation and Preservation (AVCRP) to urge appropriators not to disproportionately cut natural and cultural resource spending.  The AVCRP coalition held a press event in Washington, D.C. on October 31st outlining its concerns about proposed spending cuts. 

Reprinted with permission from the National Trust's Public Policy Department and Center for State and Local Policy



Posted: November 21, 2011
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