It is early in the process, but there are numerous indications in Washington, D.C., that a number of government agencies will likely see cuts to their 2014 budgets. There's also a chance that Capitol Hill gridlock will result in no action at all other than extending 2013 spending levels. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is among the agencies consistently targeted for significant spending reductions.
This past week a U.S. House of Representatives panel approved a 2014 spending proposal that would cut 19 percent out of the budgets of the USFWS, Forest Service and National Park Service. The cuts would be in addition to the roughly 5 percent sequestration cuts.
The draft appropriations bill approved by House Republicans is not expected to become law, but it is at least an indicator of potential cuts forthcoming in the FWS. The Obama administration requested $1.6 billion for the FWS budget. The House proposal amounts to $1.06 billion. The Senate has yet to act on their version of FWS appropriations.
Given the temper of the times in Washington and recent history with budget battles, it appears that Congress may not be able to reach a funding agreement for key government agencies, including the FWS, and will invoke an extension of the 2013 budget prior to the start of the fiscal year Oct. 1.
The fate of the greater sage grouse is tied to the house committee proposal. It states the FWS would be forbidden from spending appropriated funds for the protection of sage grouse. It is unknown when a final budget agreement will be reached.