Last Friday, October 30th, Congress agreed on a budget deal with the White House that set caps on federal spending for the next two years and raised the debt limit to avoid our country defaulting on the national debt. More details available on americanprogress.org.
What does this mean for the programs that Surfrider has been working hard to keep funded for the past four years, such as the EPA BEACH Act Grants program that helps pay for beach water quality monitoring and public health protection programs at across the country?
Basically, it means its time for Congress to get to work to come up with a spending bill that allows the federal agencies and the important programs that they run to stay in business.
It also means that they need to put aside partisan gamemanship, and leave policy riders that tend to hold up the whole process out of budget negotiations, such as recent ridiculous attempts to defund Planned Parenthood, decide where a confederate flag can and can not be hung, and prevent implementation of the Clean Water Rule. These are important issues that deserve political attention and debate, but that should not be used to hold the proper function of the US government hostage.
Going into these final rounds of negotiations the President's Budget for Fiscal Year 2016 proposes to zero-out all funding for the BEACH Act. The House version agrees with this proposal. Fortunately, there are many ocean champions in the Senate that understand the high importance of healthy, clean water at the beach to the American public and towards protecting our strong and always growing coastal tourism economies (valued at over $90 billion in 2012). Earlier this year, 25 members of the Senate, led by Senators Mendendez (NJ), Nelson (FL) and Merkley (OR) submitted a request to maintain level funding for the BEACH Act in 2016, and their request made it into the Senate version of the 2016 budget.
Now it is time for the real fun to begin. Please join Surfrider in reminding our leaders in the US House of Representatives and the Senate of how valuable clean water at the beach is to you and your family and your local economy.
Please click here to send your email asking Congress to pass a budget that provides level funding for the BEACH Act.
Meanwhile we will start looking ahead to 2017 and reaching out to the President and the EPA to ask them to re-evaluate their priorities and to once again support state and local beach water quality monitoring programs through continued funding of the BEACH Act.