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Key Victories for Corps in Government Spending Deal
The Corps Network applauds passage of omnibus spending bill, which will keep the government funded through the end of the fiscal year
WASHINGTON, DC – The Corps Network applauds the passage on Friday, March 23, of the omnibus appropriations bill (H.R.1625 – Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018), which will fund the federal government through September 30, 2018, the end of the current fiscal year. Among other beneficial elements, the bill contains language encouraging federal resource management agencies to utilize Corps and the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps (21CSC), as well as a partial wildfire funding fix and funding increases for AmeriCorps and several accounts that help support Corps’ work on public lands.
“The recently approved spending package is an indication of the strong support Corps have in Congress,” said Mary Ellen Sprenkel, President and CEO of The Corps Network. “As our Champions in Congress know, Corps are a win-win: they provide young people and veterans a chance to serve our country and develop in-demand job skills; and they are a valuable partner for resource management agencies and local governments, helping address natural disasters, infrastructure projects, deferred maintenance, and improve our public lands and communities in a cost-effective manner. Every dollar invested in national service programs like Corps is more than returned in project and societal outcomes. Thank you to the members of Congress who prioritized investments in national service and public lands. We look forward to using the language and funding included in this bill to continue to complete important projects on our public lands and provide opportunities for the next generation of American workers.”
Department of the Interior and U.S. Forest Service Bill-Wide Report Language:
Congress included bill-wide report language that encourages the Department of the Interior agencies and U.S. Forest to utilize Corps for projects accomplished with funding in the bill. There are specific references to Public Lands Corps, the Youth Conservation Corps program, the Student Conservation Association, and Job Corps.
There is also language from Congress supporting the continuation of the partnership between the Department of Interior and the 21st Century Conservation Service Corps and Public Lands Corps.
Department of the Interior and U.S. Forest Service Maintenance Funding Increase:
The bill contains increases in key accounts for the maintenance and management of public lands and trails. For example, the National Park Service Facility Operations and Management account will receive $810,019,000; $34 million over FY17 levels, with specific increases for cyclic maintenance and repair/rehabilitation.
Department of the Interior and U.S. Forest Service Youth Funding Increase:
The bill contains increases to multiple “Visitor Services” accounts, which fund youth and volunteer programs and the Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership. There is also funding for the Youth Conservation Corps program at U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS).
AmeriCorps Funding Increase:
Despite the proposed elimination of the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) in the President’s FY18 Budget Request, AmeriCorps will receive a $26 million increase over FY17 levels. In addition, AmeriCorps NCCC and State Service Commissions will respectively see $2 million and $1 million increases over FY17 levels.
U.S. Forest Service Wildfire Fix:
Congress reached a partial Wildfire Funding Fix. In recent years, with longer fire seasons and increased fire suppression costs, the U.S. Forest Service has exceeded its firefighting budget and been forced to shift money from accounts used for other activities, like maintenance and improvement projects. This bill establishes a fund of more than $2 billion per year to be tapped when the cost of fighting wildfires exceeds the 10-year average cost of wildfire suppression. The fix goes into effect in FY2020.
Secure Rural Schools Act Reauthorization:
The Secure Rural Schools Act, which provides funding to rural counties and school districts affected by the decline in revenue from timber harvests on federal lands, was reauthorized.
The bill includes a $5 million increase for the YouthBuild competitive grant program.
About The Corps Network
The Corps Network, the national association of Service and Conservation Corps, provides leadership and support to 130 Corps across the United States. Through advocacy, and providing Corps access to funding opportunities and expert guidance, The Corps Network annually enables more than 25,000 Corpsmembers to strengthen communities, improve the environment and transform their lives through service. To learn more about The Corps Network, please visit www.corpsnetwork.org.
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