Government Relations Update June 2019
House Moves Forward on Appropriations
The House passed two “minibus” appropriations packages on June 19 and June 25. The first package, H.R. 2740, included the Defense, State, Energy, and Health, Labor and Education bills. Funding largely would increase for most agencies in FY 2020 under the bill, which includes $41.1 billion for the National Institutes of Health ($2 billion above the FY2019 enacted level), $267 million for the Institute of Museum and Library Services ($25 million above the FY2019 enacted level), and $6.87 billion for the Office of Science at the Department of Energy ($285 million above the FY2019 enacted level).
The second package, H.R. 3055, included the Commerce-Justice-Science, Agriculture-Rural Development, Interior-Environment, Military Construction-Veterans Affairs, and Transportation-Housing and Urban Development bills. Similarly, funding in FY 2020 would increase across the board under provisions in this bill, which includes $42.4 million for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration ($2.9 million above the FY2019 enacted level), $5.49 billion for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration ($64.28 million above the FY2019 enacted level), $1.04 billion for NIST ($1 billion above the FY2019 enacted level), and $8.64 billion for NSF ($561.14 million above the FY2019 enacted level). The bill also includes over $680 million for the expansion of broadband service through the United States Department of Agriculture. Additionally, the bill passed with an amendment adding a further $55 million in funding for USDA’s ReConnect broadband pilot program.
Finally, on June 27, the House passed H.R. 3351, which provides $339 million in funding for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) ($6 million above the FY2019 enacted level).
These bills will now proceed to the Senate for consideration. Thus far, the Senate still has not approved any of its own versions of these funding bills or moved them beyond the stage of consideration by the Appropriations Committee.
Senate Passes Bill to Study Broadband’s Economic Effects
On June 5, the Senate passed S. 1289 by unanimous consent. The bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), would compel the Bureau of Economic Analysis at the FCC to assess the effects of broadband deployment and adoption. The bill’s proponents suggest that this study would provide important data to lawmakers to assist in decision-making as new broadband legislation and policy takes shape.