House and Senate Appropriators began formal conference negotiations this week on a final, year-end FY’12 omnibus spending package that will contain the nine remaining appropriations bills – including the FY’12 Interior appropriations bill, which funds historic preservation programs. While lawmakers remain hopeful they can reach an accord on the final spending package before the current temporary continuing resolution (CR) expires on December 16, the sheer volume of unresolved issues in three of the individual spending bills may derail those plans and force Congress to extend the current CR into early next year.
Nonetheless, appropriators have signaled that progress has been made on resolving outstanding issues – including settling on a large number (40) of environmental policy riders that have held up the Interior bill to date. Conferees on the Interior Bill claim that there is agreement on 23 of the 40 controversial riders, but that has not stopped speculation that Interior could be one of three bills that could be considered separately as year-end CRs that would then be attached to the larger omnibus package.
The net result of that scenario would be a much lower level of funding for the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF) for FY’12 ($48.758 million in the current CR) than what Senate appropriators have approved ($64 million). Fortunately, conferees on the Interior Bill find the year-end CR the least palatable option for settling FY’12 Interior spending.
Reprinted with permission from the National Trust's Public Policy Department and Center for State and Local Policy
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