WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Tom Udall, ranking member on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, was named to the conference committee that will finalize the fiscal year 2019 Interior & Environment Appropriations bill, which funds the Department of the Interior (DOI), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), U.S. Forest Service, and various other agencies.
The conference committee includes leaders of four House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees and held a key meeting today as it works to reconcile the differences between the two versions of the Interior & Environment funding bill that have passed the House and the Senate. Udall helped author the bill that passed the Senate, the first of its kind to pass the Senate and go to conference since 2009.
Udall secured major funding for New Mexico priorities, including the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), wildfire suppression and the Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program, which is an important revenue stream for many counties in the state. In the Senate bill, Udall successfully fought off harmful anti-environmental provisions and cuts to the EPA, Bureau of Indian Affairs, and Indian Health Service, which would have had devastating consequences for New Mexico and Indian Country. Udall championed strong resources for health care and education in Indian Country, arts and humanities programs, and public lands and national parks.
More information on the Senate bill that Udall helped author can be found HERE.
"I want to note what a remarkable achievement it is to convene a conference on the Interior Appropriations bill—for the first time in nearly a decade," Udall said today during today's meeting of the conference committee. "The package before us takes care of the programs our constituents back home care about, including national parks, public lands, water infrastructure, and environmental protection. This bill includes important increases for the Indian Health Service and arts and cultural programs, including the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities. And I'm proud that it maintains funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund—an important message as we work to pass a long-term reauthorization for the program."
"We need to pass a clean Interior bill and put these funds to work in communities back home," Udall said. "I know we can get there. So let's get to work."