The House of Representatives unanimously passed a conservation bill Thursday that would reauthorize up to $92 million in annual funding through 2025 for the Chesapeake Bay cleanup program.
The bill, called America’s Conservation Enhancement Act, passed the Senate two weeks ago, and now moves to President Donald Trump’s desk for signature. Bay conservation advocates expect Trump, a Republican, to sign the bill.
The Trump administration has tried to significantly reduce the program’s budget four times. The White House did not respond to requests for comment.
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation is urging the president to sign the bill soon.
“The House took a tremendously important step forward to protect the long-term health of the Chesapeake Bay and to ensure that it remains an environmental treasure and an economic driver for years to come,” said Rep. John Sarbanes, a Democrat who represents Maryland’s 3rd District, in a release.
The Chesapeake Bay Foundation has said the program, executed by a combination of federal, state, nonprofit and other entities, has helped restore the crab population and cut down on areas where organisms cannot survive.
The bill would give the program $90 million for the 2021 fiscal year, an amount that would increase by $500,000 every year until the 2025 fiscal year.
The bill also includes support for other programs to support the Chesapeake Bay, including a new $15 million federal grant program, the Chesapeake Wild ACT, for local governments, nonprofits and other entities to assist in habitat restoration.
“It’s important that Congress acted in bipartisan fashion to help restore the Chesapeake Bay in the waning days of the 116th Congress,” said Rep. Andy Harris, a Republican representing Maryland’s 1st District, in a release. “This action sends a strong signal that preservation of the Bay is truly a national priority.”
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