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Way Downstream …(Oct. 3-9, 2019)

On Capitol Hill, big bucks for the Bay

      It may seem like members of Congress do nothing but insult one another and then depart for “home district work periods.”

         But legislation advancing stealthily last month contains wording that caught our eye beneath the headline, Reauthorization of Chesapeake Bay Programs: “$90,000,000 for fiscal year 2020; $90,500,000 for fiscal year 2021; $91,000,000 for fiscal year 2022; $91,500,000 for fiscal year 2023; and $92,000,000 for fiscal year 2024.”

         We like it when drafters of legislation include all those zeros instead of the word million. We like it because that level of funding is a healthy boost over the $73 million this year for Bay conservation and cleanup.

         And we like it because the legislation was sponsored by both Democrats and Republicans, a testament to the bipartisan backing for Chesapeake Bay that existed for years.

         It wasn’t too long ago when, under the present administration, budgets were drawn up that all but zeroed out spending for the Bay and for other watershed programs. In March, the White House proposed $7.3 million for the Bay Program next year, quite a cut.

         But as in every recent year, Congress stepped in, particularly the members who live in Maryland, Virginia and other states surrounding the Bay.

         Virginia Rep. Elaine Luria (D) summed up the vibe: “Our beautiful Chesapeake Bay is a critical economic and recreational resource that we must protect and preserve for future generations.”