Friday, March 11, 2011

Gridlock on Government Spending as the House and Senate Duel Over Funding Cuts

Bryan Howard
Legislative Director
U.S. Green Building Council

On Wednesday, the United States Senate failed to break a stalemate on dueling proposals to fund operations of the federal government through the rest of the fiscal year. The Senate, largely on party lines, failed to advance the House of Representatives proposal that would cut federal government programs by over $60 billion. A number of the provisions in the House-passed bill would have a chilling effect on key green building programs, while impeding progress on the nation’s economic recovery and future competitiveness. (You can read more about those cuts in my previous post, Green Building on the Chopping Block in House Spending Measure.)

A substitute to the House bill, advanced by Senate Appropriations Chairman Daniel K. Inouye (Hawaii) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nevada), reduced or rejected many of these proposed cuts to important green building programs included in the House-passed bill, but unfortunately this new proposal was also rejected. The Senate bill would have reduced overall federal spending by $50 billion under the President’s request and $5 billion compared to H.R. 1.

With the Senate continuing to lack consensus on a path forward and the House of Representatives prepping a short-term funding stop gap, it appears the battle over the budget is far from over. Stay tuned for future updates the ongoing budget discussions, and how they are impact green building programs.

Preliminary Summary of Funding Reductions Based on Fiscal Year 2010:
Federal Building Fund at the General Services Administration (GSA):
H.R. 1: cuts $1.6 billion
Inouye/Reid: cuts $900 million

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) office at the Department of Energy (DOE):
H.R. 1: cuts $786 million
Inouye/Reid: cuts $288 million

HOPE VI the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD):
H.R. 1: eliminates program $250 million
Inouye/Reid: cuts $50

Energy Star at Environmental Protection Agency (EPA):
H.R. 1: cuts $10 million
Inouye/Reid: N/A

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