WASHINGTON — The United States House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a package of six yearly appropriations bills, including one sponsored by Democratic U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur to allocate more than $56 billion in federal funds to agencies overseeing energy and water development in the 2023 fiscal year.
The $56.275 billion commitment is a $3.4 billion increase from the last year. It includes more than $30 million for projects specific to Northern Ohio.
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Kaptur, who serves as chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, hyped the bill's regional and national impact, saying in a statement that the funds would "spur energy innovation and lower costs, improve water infrastructure and protect Lake Erie, and support good-paying jobs." The bill provides funding to the Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of the Interior and Bureau of Reclamation, and the Department of Energy.
Funds are earmarked for a wide range of projects including harbor maintenance, water infrastructure improvements, and programs aimed at increasing energy efficiency through renewable energy sources. In our region, the Army Corps of Engineers will spend around $21 million on harbor operations and maintenance efforts in Cleveland ($10.9 million alone), Toledo, Lorain, and Port Clinton; $3 million for the Great Lakes Coastal Resilience Study; and $8 million for researching harmful algal blooms in the lake.
Kaptur, who represents Ohio's 9th Congressional District, released the following statement:
"Moving America forward requires responsibly investing in energy innovation, resilient water infrastructure, and the health and vitality of Lake Erie. Modernizing ports and waterways will ensure industrial and agricultural goods make their way to manufacturers and markets reliably and affordably. Combatting harmful algal blooms and invasive species will strengthen Lake Erie’s fishing and boating industries. And diversifying energy sources and advancing next generation technology will help secure our energy independence and lower costs on consumers and businesses."
According to a summary provided by House Committee on Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-Connecticut), the Department of Energy will receive most of the federal monies, totaling $48.2 billion of the $56.275 billion appropriation. The Corps will receive $8.9 for investigation, construction and maintenance efforts, while the Department of Interior will receive $1.9 billion, with the vast majority directed to the Bureau of Reclamation for water projects.
$21.2 billion of the DOE's share will go to the National Nuclear Security in order to "maintain a safe, secure, and credible nuclear deterrent while addressing the threat of nuclear proliferation and terrorism," DeLauro’s office said.
The Department of Energy will use the rest of its share for projects mostly related to clean energy, cybersecurity and emergency response, electricity, environmental management, and scientific research. Kaptur said among other goals, the bill's intent is to support the agencies' efforts to enhance energy supply chains, expand the use renewable energy technologies, weatherize homes and communities, rebuild ports and dams and protect freshwater ecosystems.
"By wisely utilizing precious taxpayer dollars," Kaptur said, "our Energy and Water bill is focused on supporting good-paying jobs and ensuring America is set to capture the future."
The roughly $405 billion package of six bills from different committees passed the House by a strictly party-line vote of 220-207, with all Democrats voting in favor. Republican Rep. Dave Joyce, of Geauga County, blasted the measure as an "out-of-touch federal spending bill will only make things harder for working families and everyday Americans."
"I can't in good conscience support this bill when our national debt has surpassed $30 trillion, inflation has hit a 40-year high, and Americans are struggling to afford gas and groceries," Joyce added.
The bill's eventual status in the Senate remains unclear.