The Work Ahead to Fund and Reauthorize the Historic Preservation Fund

September 27, 2023

The hyperpartisan, divided Congress is running up against a sharp deadline to fund the federal government for fiscal year 2024, which officially begins on October 1.

The Democrat-controlled Senate passed all 12 of their appropriations bills well ahead of schedule in July with general bipartisan cooperation and support. However, the Republican-controlled House has made little progress advancing their versions of annual spending bills. Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) is working to unify the factions of the Republican caucus to vote as a bloc to pass a continuing resolution (CR), which would avoid a government shutdown. There have been 15 government shutdowns since 1990, the longest in 2019 which lasted 35 days.

The Historic Preservation Fund (HPF) is funded through the Interior Appropriations bill, which is under the jurisdiction of tandem subcommittees in the House and Senate. The challenges of the divided Congress are evident in the differences in the bills.

The House included $175.4 million for the HPF and has restricted any Congressionally Directed Spending (formerly known as earmarks). The Senate included $195.166 million, which does include Congressionally Directed Spending, as well as a one-year extension of the authorization for the HPF. The Senate bill has passed a full Senate vote, but the House-version has only passed committee, not by the full chamber. The differences in these bills will have to be reconciled before final passage into law.

The HPF’s authorization will expire at the end of the fiscal year on September 30. The Historic Preservation Fund Reauthorization Act does not yet have a companion bill in the Senate.

The National Trust’s government relations team has worked diligently with national partners and congressional offices to avoid a lapse in authorization for the program. The one-year extension included in the Senate Interior Appropriations bill is the most likely pathway.

Announcing the 2024 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.

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