GOP's Continuing Resolution Cuts Funding for National Weather Service, FEMA

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
March 11 2011 10:45 AM

GOP's Continuing Resolution Cuts Funding for National Weather Service, FEMA

Back in February 2009, Republicans found a lot of risible spending in the stimulus bill. In his response to the State of the Union, Gov. Bobby Jindal, R-La., derided the stimulus for including "$140 million for something called volcano monitoring." The gripe was mostly that the funding, mostly for U.S. Geological Survey upkeep, wasn't stimulative. (This is a pretty good argument.) But Democrats honed in on that comment to decide that Republicans were going to try to cut funding for natural disaster monitoring.

This isn't wrong. The continuing resolution passed by the GOP House, the one that just failed in the Senate, reduces funding for the federal agencies that monitor and react to disasters.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel, a former Slate politics reporter, is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

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The CR is here . According to the House Appropriation Committee's summary of the bill, the CR funds Operations, Research and Facilities for the National Oceanic Atmospheric Association with $454.3 million less than it got in FY2010; this represents a $450.3 million cut from what the president's never-passed FY2011 budget was requesting. The National Weather Service, of course, is part of NOAA -- its funding drops by $126 million. The CR also reduces funding for FEMA management by $24.3 million off of the FY2010 budget, and reduces that appropriation by $783.3 million for FEMA state and local programs.

Democrats did attempt to add more money to NOAA's budget. Rep. Dan Lipinski, D-Ill., offered an amendment to the CR that would have directed "no less than $710,641,000 to the National Weather Service Local Warnings and Forecasts." The amendment was one of several Democratic spending proposals that was found to be out of order, and not voted on.

My friend Matthew Yglesias points me to Carol Vaughn's article published yesterday, about the National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service employees union mobilizing against the cuts.

Nationally, reduced funding will mean upper air observations now made twice a day might be reduced to every other day, buoy and surface weather observations that provide data for warning systems could be temporarily or permanently discontinued and there could be delays in replacing satellites, according to the release.

The union early in the process obtained impact documents that included furloughs of up to 27 days for all NWS employees, Sobien said in his letter, adding that the impact plans the union has seen so far only address measures to save $62 million, about half the total expected cut.

Are there cuts here that would have impacted the speed at which, say, California reacted to the impending tsunami? Doubtful, but I think we've found a government worker more sympathetic than the proverbial unionized teacher.

David Weigel, a former Slate politics reporter, is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

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