2018 Midterm Election Takeaways for the Delaware River Watershed
Now that the dust has settled, what does a flipped House mean for the Delaware River Watershed?
By Sandra Meola and Kyrillos Rizk
While some pundits debate whether the November midterms exhibited a "blue wave" nationally, the Delaware River Watershed certainly showcased the phenomena. Democrats flipped a total of nine seats. The watershed is now represented by 18 Democrats and three Republicans.
The Coalition welcomes 11 new members to the Delaware Watershed House delegation! Of significance, the 116th Congress will see a record number of women and racially diverse representatives including five women newly elected within the boundaries of the watershed.
New members include Tom Malinowski (NJ-7), Andy Kim (NJ-3), Jeff Van Drew (NJ-2), Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11), Madeleine Dean (PA-4), Mary Scanlon (PA-5), Chrissy Houlahan (PA-6), Susan Wild (PA-7), Dan Meuser (PA-9), Antonio Delgado (NY-18), and Anthony Brindisi (NY-22). Of note, due to redistricting in Pennsylvania, Rep. Tom Marino (R-12) no long represents the Delaware River Watershed.
The Coalition has formed close allies with members that are leaving at the end of this Congress including Reps. Frank LoBiondo (NJ-2), John Faso (NY-19), and Leonard Lance (NJ-7), and Chair of the House Appropriations Committee, Rodney Frelinghuysen (NJ-11). Thus, Coalition members plan to work collaboratively to build relationships with new members and leadership. It is likely that Rep. Nita Lowey (NY-17) will become the new chair of the House Appropriations Committee. Rep. Lowey will certainly be an important member for the Coalition to get to know and communicate with often.
Turning to the Coalition’s specific policy priorities, we will plan to meet with and educate new congressional members and continue to work with our champions to write, recruit signatories for, and submit FY20 appropriations request letters for the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program (DRBRP), Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and other federal programs identified as policy priorities.
In particular, the DRBRP is currently funded at FY18 levels, $5 million, through a continuing resolution (CR) keeping the government funded through December 7th. CDRW has been urging Congress to fund the program at $6 million in FY19. While the House Interior Appropriations bill is still being conferenced, it is likely Congress will pass a second CR to keep the government funded through December 21st.
LWCF has provided critical open space funding for federal, state and local lands throughout the Delaware River Watershed, including the Delaware Water Gap, the Appalachian Trail, the Highlands region of PA, NJ, and NY, and most recently the Cherry Valley National Wildlife Refuge in Northeast PA. LWCF expired at the end of September, but with a second continuing resolution in play, we may have until December 21st to get LWCF included in a spending package or a different legislative vehicle. Stand up for LWCF by signing Appalachian Mountain Club’s action alert here!
Additionally, in late November, the House and Senate Agriculture Committees announced that they have reached an agreement in principle on the 2018 Farm Bill. This news suggests progress in the negotiating process and an expectation to see a completed Farm Bill by the end of the calendar year.
The Coalition for the Delaware River Watershed looks forward to meeting and working with new and current members of Congress to advance our priorities to protect and preserve the natural resources within the watershed!