Historic Preservation Public Policy

Status Quo For Federal Preservation Funding

From Preservation Action

On Thursday of this week, before adjourning for the midterm elections, Congress passed a stopgap funding measure to keep the federal government operating until December 3rd. The 2010 Fiscal Year ended at midnight yesterday. As was expected, funding was extended, with a few exceptions, at FY 2010 levels.

The passage of the measure, usually referred to as a Continuing Resolution or “CR,” puts off what are expected to be particularly hostile spending decisions until after the midterm elections. However, while the Democrats are saying they plan on settling FY 2011 appropriations bills during the lame duck session (the period between the midterm elections and the beginning of the new legislative year), Republicans are hoping to further delay spending decisions until the next Congress when they may have control of one or both chambers.

With funding in the Administration’s proposed FY 2011 budget eliminated for Save America’s Treasures and Preserve America, and cut in half for National Heritage Areas, an extension at FY2010 levels is positive for preservationists. While Congress has been receptive to the notion of retaining funding for these programs in their subsequent spending bills, to date neither chamber has passed such a bill or given an indication of what the funding levels would look like.

Lame Duck Likely To Be Lame For Preservationists

With Congress adjourned after passing little more than the CR, and a full slate of spending bills that will need to be dealt with for FY 2011 upon their return on November 15th after contentious midterm elections, the jury is out on what else they will be able to focus on. Sources are telling us that the likelihood of the Senate taking up an energy bill, such as either S. 3663 or or H.R. 3534 (the CLEAR Act), are very slim. While the former contains full-funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), the latter contains both full funding for the LWCF and the Historic Preservation Fund. Preservation Action and its partners have been advocating for the Senate passage of the CLEAR Act for several months.

In addition to appropriations, likely candidates for consideration are the extensions to the Bush era tax cuts, and “New Start,” a new arms control treaty with Russia. Any introduced bills that do not get signed into law before the end of 111th Congress will die and would have to be reintroduced in the 112th Congress, which begins January 3, 2011.