The House of Representatives recently passed the 2009 Omnibus Appropriations Bill (H.R. 1105) by a vote of 245-178. The bill covers the nine appropriations bills that are currently funded through a continuing resolution that was set to expire March 6.

The Senate took up the measure the week of March 2. It was unable to reach agreement on the House version and passed a short-term continuing resolution.

The Department of Homeland Security is not included in this bill because it was already funded for the full year in the Security, Disaster Assistance and Continuing Appropriations Act (P.L. 110-329).

The following is a summary of key provisions important to counties, compared to 2008 funding. These figures do not include any additional funds that were part of the economic stimulus bill.

  • Agriculture and Rural Development

  • USDA Rural Development Programs: $2.7 billion, $400 million above 2008 levels. Many of these program accounts are flush with funding as this yearly appropriation will add to stimulus funding that is double, and in some cases triple the yearly appropriation for rural housing, rural water projects, rural community facilities and rural economic development efforts.

    Rural Housing: $7.6 billion, nearly $2 billion more than 2008 which will help to bolster several rural housing programs. Most of the agency's overall funding increase is due to a doubling of the Rural Rental Assistance Program.

    Rural Community Facilities: Funded at $63.83 million, $4.64 million below 2008. However, grant funding remains level at $20.37 million, while direct loans increase slightly and guaranteed loans decrease by $1.24 million.

    Rural Business Programs: Funded at $87.39 million, most business programs remain relatively unchanged from 2008. The Rural Business Enterprise Grants remain funded at $38.73 million and the Rural Business Opportunity Grants are at $2.48 million. The Value-Added Agricultural Product Grants are cut to $3.87 million because the $15 million in mandatory Farm Bill funding was used in 2008. Rural Empowerment Zones and Enterprise Communities Grants stay flat at $8.13 million.

    Rural Water and Waste Disposal Program: $556 million for the Water and Waste Disposal Program, about $2 million less than 2008 due to a cut in high energy cost grants. The bill provides the same budget authority for water and wastewater loans and grants as 2008 at $537.29 million. NACo and appropriators are concerned about the Farm Bill's provision that seeks to place a higher reliance on loans and less on grants. Therefore, appropriators direct USDA to deliver at least the same level of funding to all communities including the poorest and most remote that cannot rely on loans.

    Rural Broadband: Provides an estimated loan program level of $400.49 million, $100 million more than 2008. The Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant program stays funded at $34.76 million.

    Rural Energy for America Program: Funded at $5 million, a cut of $30 million from 2008. The new program authorized in the 2008 Farm Bill finances rural energy-efficiency and renewable-energy initiatives.

    Conservation Programs: Funded at $968 million, $32 million above 2008, for the Natural Resources Conservation Service to improve service in the field, deliver conservation efforts to protect the environment and upgrade aging flood-control dams at risk of catastrophic failure.

    Country of Origin Labeling (COOL): Implements the program requiring country of origin labeling for fresh fruits and vegetables, meats and other products by providing $9.6 million for the Agricultural Marketing Service to administer and oversee COOL labeling requirements.

  • Energy and Water

  • Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy: $140 million for research on energy-efficient buildings; $200 million for weatherization grants and $40 million for water-power research.

    Climate Change Research: Provides $178 million, an increase of $41 million.

    Department of Energy Environmental Clean-up: $6.5 billion, an increase of $301 million.

    Army Corps of Engineers: Overall funding is reduced to $5.4 billion, $185 million below 2008.

    Department of Interior Water Reclamation: $39 million, an increase of $15 million, to expand the use of recycled water.

  • Transportation

  • Highway Infrastructure: $40.7 billion, an increase of $484 million.

    Federal Transit Administration: $10.1 billion, an increase of $773 million.

    Airport Modernization, Safety and Efficiency Grants: $3.5 billion, level funding.

    Essential Air Service: $127 million.

    Amtrak: $1.5 billion, an increase of $165 million.

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