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Preservation Action, Legislative Update
Volume 19, Number 26, July 8, 2016 →

Appropriations Update: Limited Congressional Schedule Makes CR Likely

Lawmakers returned to Washington this week after the holiday weekend with limited time, as the August recess starts at the end of next week. Lawmakers still have much work to do on the FY17 appropriations bills, so far both the House and Senate have passed 3 of 12 appropriations bills. Congress will not return from the August recess until after Labor Day giving them only 3 weeks until the end of the fiscal year on September 30th to pass the remaining appropriations bills. Some members of Congress are already conceding that passing a Continuing Resolution (CR) to keep the government operating until after the election is likely.

The House is expected to take up the Interior Appropriations bill, which funds the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF), as early as next week. The House Rules Committee began accepting amendments to the Interior bill this week, including amendments that would increase funding for the HPF. The Rules Committee will decide which amendments actually make it to a vote on the House floor.

Senate Democrats may block the Interior Appropriations bill from coming to a vote over objections to policy riders attached to the bill. Preservation Action will continue to bring you the latest as the Appropriations process develops. We’ve included a table below showing the levels of funding for the HPF included in the House and Senate Interior Appropriations bills.

Senate HPF Appropriations

  • SHPOs: $47.925 million, $1 million above FY16 enacted levels
  • THPOs: $9.985 million, same as FY16 enacted levels
  • Civil Rights Grants: $10 million, $2 million above FY16 enacted levels
  • Underrepresented Communities: $500,000, same as FY16 enacted levels
  • *Save America’s Treassures grant program and HBCU preservation program not included in Senate Appropriations.
House HPF Appropriaitons

  • SHPOs: $46.925 million, same as FY16 enacted levels
  • THPOs: $11.985 million, $2 million above FY16 enacted levels
  • Civil Rights Grants: $11 million, $3 million above FY16 enacted levels
  • Save America’s Treasures: $5 million, not included in FY16
  • HBCU Preservation Program: $3 million, not included in FY16
  • Underserved Communities: $500,000, same as FY16 enacted levels

House Passes Legislation to Create African American History Commission

This week the House passed the 400 Years of African American History Commission Act, H.R 4539. The bill creates a commission to develop and carry out activities throughout the United States to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the arrival of Africans in the English colonies at Point Comfort, Virginia, in 1619. The bill, introduced by Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA) and a bipartisan group of cosponsors this past February, passed the House by unanimous consent. Similar legislation was passed to recognize the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown, VA and the 450th anniversary of the founding of St. Augustine, FL.

Companion legislation, S. 2548, was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Tim Kaine(D-VA) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA). Hearings were held on S. 2548 in June, but the bill is still awaiting further action. Rep. Bobby Scott praised the action by the House to pass this important bill.

“I applaud my colleagues in the House for passing this bill,” said Rep. Scott.  “The history of Virginia and our nation cannot be fully understood or appreciated without knowing about the first Africans who arrived at Point Comfort, Virginia in 1619.  The commission established by this bill will be charged with the important task of planning, developing and implementing a series of programs and activities throughout 2019 that fully tells the story of African Americans, their contributions to the fabric of our nation, and their resilience over the last 400 years.”

Legislation Introduced to Prohibit the Exporting of Sacred Native American Objects

This week, Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) introduced the Safeguard Tribal Objects of Patrimony (STOP) Act in the Senate. This legislation would prohibit the exporting of sacred native american objects and would increase the penalties for the illegal trafficking of tribal cultural patrimony. The legislation comes after an auction house In France cancelled the controversial sale of a shield previously used in religious ceremonies by the Pueblo of Acoma. Sen. Heinrich was a key advocate in stopping the sale of the sacred object and pursuing criminal investigation.

“The STOP Act will increase penalties for stealing and illegally trafficking tribal cultural patrimony. It will also prohibit exporting these objects and create a tribal working group to help federal agencies better understand the scope of the problem and how to solve it. I am proud to work with tribes in New Mexico and across Indian Country to craft this legislation,” Sen. Heinrich said of the STOP Act.

Sen. Heinrich was joined by fellow New Mexico Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) as a cosponsor to the STOP Act. Sen Heinrich is seeking bipartisan support of the bill, but my face difficulty getting it to the Senate floor for a vote amid a very busy legislative calendar. Preservation Action praises Sen Heinrich for his work on this important issue and encourages quick action by the Senate.

Congratulations to the Winners of the Partners in Preservation $2 Million Grant Competition

This week $2 million in grants, as decided by popular vote, were awarded to historic sites at 9 different national parks. The  National Trust for Historic Preservation, National Geographic, and American Express joined together for Partners in Preservation: National Parks to award the grants. 20 historic sites in National Parks from across the country were eligible and over 1.1 million votes were cast. Thanks to everyone that participated!

The 9 winning historic sites are:

  • Brink of Upper Falls Overlook at Yellowstone National Park
  • Clingman’s Observation Tower at Great Smokey Mountain National Park
  • Desert View Watchtower at Grand Canyon National Park
  • Parsons Memorial Lodge at Yosemite National Park
  • Zion- Mt. Carmel Tunnel and Highway at Zion National Park
  • Battleship Row Mooring Quay at WW2 Valor Pacific National Monument
  • Flamingo Visitor Center at Everglades National Park
  • The Superintendent’s Office at Denali National Park
  • Longmire Historic House at Mt. Rainer National Park

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