Nellie L. Longsworth, Consultant to Governmental Affairs Committee
May 12, 2006
Congress is back in full swing after a very quiet month of April that included more than two weeks of Easter recess. Many issues are on the front burner as Congress is anxious to recess in early fall to have adequate time to campaign for the mid-term elections. The deficit continues to soar (moving toward $900 billion), the Iraq War needs additional funding, Hurricane Recovery is overdue for federal support and issues of earmarks, lobbying and ethics hang over the members of both House and Senate.
I am often asked about the fate of Section 106 in this Congress. It's a hard call but it appears that the House Resources Committee and Chairman Pombo are putting more energy into changes to the Endangered Species Act and NEPA than historic preservation. Interior Secretary Nominee Dirk Kempthorne, Governor of Idaho, is a states rights proponent and expressed strong interest in changing the Endangered Species Law during his recent confirmation hearing. Knowing that the Congress is moving on a number of important issues, including FY07 appropriations, it appears somewhat unlikely that historic preservation will enter the fray at this point.
There are some triggers to be watched such as the floor vote in the Senate on the "clean Historic Preservation Act reauthorizations bill" which is, as yet, unscheduled for floor action. When it passes the Senate and is sent to the House, there is almost no chance that it will be approved by the Resources Committee for House floor action "as is", thus it may be a "call to action" or may languish until the next Congress.
Whatever, I check all sources everyday!!!!!
The SHA Mid-Year Directors Meeting is scheduled for Washington DC (Rockville, MD) on June 24, 2006.The timing is perfect for scheduling lobbying visits to Congress on the preceding Thursday and Friday for all SHA members who would like to participate. We will focus on key members and staffers of both the House and Senate. It is an easy Metro ride from Rockville to Capitol Hill and I understand that the hotel has a bus that operates "on call" between the Metro station and hotel.
I am already working on scheduling a meeting with Rep. Steve Pearce, Chair of the National Parks Subcommittee. Rep. Pearce has the responsibility for the reauthorization of the Historic Preservation Act and has stated publicly that Section 106 needs change. This could be a very important meeting since he, personally, has not met with cultural resource management people - those that actually carry our Section 106 reviews - to my knowledge.
Other appointments will be made, and if you would like to visit your own member of congress, please let me know (Nellbabe@aol.com). We are getting an early start to insure that your plane fares will be as reasonable as possible!
Each spring, Congress revisits its current program appropriations and determines what programs need additional monies to carry them through the end of the year - in this case, September 30, 2007. This year's measure adds funding to many federal agency programs, with a strong emphasis on the Iraq war, veteran benefits AND Hurricane Recovery.
Both House and Senate have considered HR 4939 and both versions include funding of $28.9 billion for hurricane recovery in the Gulf States. Of that total, $80 million underwrites historic preservation grants to stabilize and repair damaged historic properties and an additional $3 million for SHPO offices in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Texas to carry our Section 106 reviews.
Due to differences in the House and Senate versions of the Supplemental, a House-Senate conference has been convened to iron out those differences. This year, the conference is under a cloud of a potential presidential veto due to the Senate's exceeding of the cap of $94.5 billion set by the White House as the limit on spending in this bill. Should a veto take place, it would be the first bill vetoed by President Bush.
The House measure totals $91.9 billion but the Senate bill climbed to $109 billion. To avoid a veto, Senate Majority Leader Frist (R-TN) has suggested reduction of the Senate mark through an across-the-board cut while others would prefer a limit on earmarks. The pressure is "on" to resolve the differences, as the money is desperately needed by many agencies. Our interest is that the Hurricane Recovery is retained to take into account the need for historic preservation funding in all the affected states.
On May 4th, the House Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related agencies marked up the FY07 Interior spending bill, which includes funding for the Historic Preservation Fund. Chairman Charles Taylor (R-NC) noted that there were serious budget constraints on the subcommittee that are visible in cuts to good programs. The full appropriations committee took action on May 10th, making few changes in the subcommittee mark.
The Historic Preservation Fund was did not escape the budget knife, though some areas of the program were maintained at last years levels. The States were marked up at $35.717 million, and the Tribes at $3.941 million, both close to last year's levels. The Save America's Treasures Program was halved to $15 million for earmark grants, zeroing out an additional $15 million for competitive grants administered by the National Trust. Preserve America received $3 million, $2 million less than last year and $7 million below the President's Budget. The total funding of $58.658 million was $15 million less than FY06. Heritage Areas monies were increased by $2 million to $13.8 million Though disappointing, it does reflect the effort to retain funding for core, mission-essential programs through reductions to grants programs, land acquisition, and construction.
The National Park Service sustained a cut of $100 million from FY05 to $2.2 billion. The cuts are $80 million in construction and land acquisition. The Committee added $40 million to prop up park base operations. The stateside Land and Water Conservation grants are eliminated.
The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation was increased to $5.1 million.
There is no schedule for the Senate mark-up of Interior Appropriations.
|PROGRAM||FY06 LEVEL||President's Budget||House Mark-up|
|Dept of Interior||$9.861 billion||$9.61 billion||$9.65 billion|
|National Park Service||$2.256 billion||$2.156 billion||$2.2 billion|
|SHPOs||$36.5 million||*||$35.717 million|
|Tribes||$4 million||*||$3.941 million|
|Save America's Treasures||$30 million||$14.8 million||$15 million|
|Historic Black Colleges||$3 million||*||$1 million|
|Preserve America||$5 million||$10 million||$3 million|
|HPF Total||$73.25 million||**$64.6 million||$58.658 million|
|Advisory Council On HP||$4.6 million||$5.1 million||$5.1 million|
* - The President's Budget totaled these categories at $39.6 million without a breakdown
To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act, First Lady Laura Bush has announced the convening of a two-day national Preservation America Summit. The goal is to make recommendations designed to advance historic preservation programs and policies with summit attendance limited to 250 participants. The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation will host the summit with assistance in planning from many federal agencies and private partners.
The Summit focus areas will be developed over the summer by eleven panels made up of 10-12 experts who will develop program and policy recommendations in the following areas:
We have been assured by the Advisory Council that the Society for Historical Archaeology will receive an invitation to participate.
On May 1 - one of Washington's most beautiful spring days - the President and Mrs. Bush welcomed invitees to a ceremony to celebrate the Award program of Preserve America. The awards were presented to:
The Mission San Luis, Tallahassee, FL - a NHL mission that burned to the ground in 1704 - has been recreated as the former colonial Spanish capital. It is now the site of year-round education on Spanish colonization, Apalachee Indians and missions of the southeastern US;
Maryland Heritage Areas Program - This program protects historical, cultural and natural resources through local tourism efforts that now include 10 Certified Heritage Areas representing 18 counties and 62 municipalities;
Tauck World Discovery - Yellowstone Guest-Volunteer Program - in Yellowstone National Park - This 80-year-old escorted tour company launched a program to allow park visitors to donate 2 hours of their labor to a variety of park rehabilitation and preservation projects. To date, 10,000 volunteer hours of labor are appraised at $160,000 have been donated to protect park assets; and
Explore the Highway with Hampton Save-a-Landmark Program - Hampton Hotels identify and assist in the rehab of iconic roadside attractions such as the World's Largest Santa Claus (AK) The Blue Whale (OK), The Gingerbread Castle (NJ) and La Plaza Park (CA). In five years, Hampton Inns have invested $2 million to preserve 25 uniquely American roadside landmarks. Their goal is to restore a landmark in every state by 2010.
The President and First Lady both encourage communities of all sizes to benefit economically from their heritage.
EMAIL Nellie Longsworth for more information, (Nellbabe@aol.com)