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Senate Republicans Trim Basin Salmon Funding

by CBB Staff
Columbia Basin Bulletin - January 17, 2003

Senate Republicans have trimmed Columbia Basin salmon recovery funding by 3 percent from amounts set last year in committee but never considered by the full Senate.

The reduction was made across-the-board for all federal departments, agencies and programs as part of an omnibus FY2003 appropriations bill that began moving through the Senate this week. Among those impacted are the Army Corps of Engineers, National Marine Fisheries Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Reclamation and other agencies working to restore a dozen endangered Northwest salmon runs.

Republican Senate Appropriations Committee leaders unveiled the omnibus bill, which combines 11 annual appropriations bills, this week. The $390 billion measure was cut by about $10 billion to meet President George W. Bush's budget for non-defense discretionary spending, and further trimmed by 2.9 percent across-the-board to pay for agricultural drought assistance, wildfires and other one-time expenses.

Last year a budget dispute between Democrats, who controlled the Senate, and Bush and House Republicans prevented Congress from passing 11 of 13 annual spending bills. Since the fiscal year began on Oct. 1, non-defense agencies have been operating at FY2002 spending levels under temporary funding authority.

After Republicans regained the majority in the Senate in the November elections, further action on the 11 bills was put off until the new Congress convened Jan. 7.

After defeating Democratic attempts to increase funding for homeland security and other programs, the Senate was expected to finish the omnibus bill on Tuesday. The House is likely to take it up the week of Jan. 27.

The salmon recovery funding increases approved last year by the Democratic controlled Senate Appropriations Committee were already below those sought by salmon advocates.

For example, the committee rejected a $12 million budget increase for the National Marine Fisheries Service's endangered Pacific salmon program proposed in Bush's FY03 budget. It also did not fund other increases Bush or environmental groups and Northwest members of Congress requested for NMFS to help implement and study habitat, hatchery, hydropower system and other improvements by other federal agencies.

The increases are needed to implement the so-called "all-H" Columbia Basin salmon recovery plan and biological opinion of December 2000. Regional federal officials of NMFS, the Bonneville Power Administration and other federal agencies adopted it as an alternative to breaching four federal dams on the lower Snake River.

Bush's FY03 budget for salmon recovery proposed $506 million, an increase of $68 million over the amount appropriated for FY02. Based on NMFS documents, conservation groups estimated the cost to fully implement the federal plan in FY03 at $918 million.

A total for salmon programs in the new omnibus spending bill was not available.

Some of the individual program amounts, which would be trimmed by 2.9 percent, are as follows.

Corps of Engineers:

National Marine Fisheries Service:

Bureau of Reclamation:

CBB Staff
Senate Republicans Trim Basin Salmon Funding
Columbia Basin Bulletin, January 17, 2003

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