Tuesday’s election results have set the course for the next Congress and administration, and set the stage for the final weeks of the outgoing “lame duck” session. Congress must address funding for the federal government which expires on December 9 and may consider other items that impact Audubon’s interests. Meanwhile, the Obama administration will look to bring its priorities over the finish line.
Congress’ top priority had been to pass one “omnibus” year-long spending bill for all federal programs, which would include funding levels for bird conservation programs. Congress also was expected to consider legislation spelling out national defense programs, an energy bill, and the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), the last of which contains critical authorities for ecosystem restoration projects in places such as the Everglades and Great Lakes. These bills are or could become vehicles for policy provisions that Audubon opposes, like language undermining the administration's historic Greater Sage-Grouse conservation protections. With Republicans set to control the White House and both congressional chambers next year, it is uncertain whether these bills will move forward or whether Congressional leadership will wait until the new administration takes office.
The Obama administration is likely to finalize many initiatives important to Audubon before the end of its term, including the Comprehensive Plan for restoration in the Gulf of Mexico and a five-year offshore leasing plan that includes new protections for critical Arctic habitats, and could finalize agreements that would benefit the Colorado River Basin as well.
Heading into the final months of the current term, and the next Congress and administration, Audubon will closely monitor developments and continue to strongly advocate for protecting our shared environment on behalf of birds and our communities.