Late on Monday, December 21st, Congress passed a major package of legislation, including most prominently the FY21 federal budget and a $900 billion COVID economic stimulus. Importantly for coastal communities, this bill also included the 2020 Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). We expect the president to sign the bill soon.
Here is a summary of what the bill includes – and doesn’t include – for coastal communities:
ASBPA and Coastal States Organization issued a joint statement in support of WRDA 2020, commending provisions on:
Passing a WRDA every congress is essential to effective coastal management, allowing the US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) to better work with states and local partners to plan, build, maintain, and manage critical coastal projects.
Securing a yearlong federal budget is far preferable to a temporary Continuing Resolution, which makes federal agencies unable to plan long term projects and keeps federal funding in limbo. Coastal programs in the omnibus mostly saw slight increases (with a few decreases), but were largely the same as FY20.
See our detailed analysis of the FY21 Omnibus, with final funding totals for 20 coastal programs.
The COVID stimulus did not include anything to specifically help coastal communities. Republicans refused to support funding to help local and state government budgets that were decimated by COVID related loss of revenue, which was felt most by tourism-based economies, and so the provision was dropped at the last minute. There was also reduction of local cost-share requirement for federal projects, nor any funding specific to coastal programs. ASBPA had been advocating for these coastal provisions all year.
The stimulus, while important to individuals and many sectors of society that have struggled this year, is a disappointment for beach and coastal communities.