Senate sends Great Lakes cleanup bill to Trump

Melissa Nann Burke
The Detroit News

The U.S. Senate passed a measure Sunday to renew the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and bump up funding levels by 25% to $375 million. 

The bill, which passed the House in February, now heads to President Donald Trump’s desk.

It extends for another five years funding for waterways and related habitat cleanup that was set to expire in 2021. The legislation also boosts the authorized funding level for the program from $300 million to $375 million in the 2022 fiscal year and increases funding by $25 million a year until it reaches $475 million in 2026. 

The Senate has passed a bill reauthorizing the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative for another five years.

“In Michigan, this program has helped clean up contamination, restore wetlands and fight invasive species, but there is much more to be done,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow, who co-authored the bill creating the program in 2010 and applauded Sunday’s passage.

“I’ve seen firsthand in Michigan how successful the GLRI is towards protecting the Great Lakes,” said Sen. Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Township. “We must protect the Great Lakes for future generations — it’s not only a source of drinking water for millions but an economic driver for our country.”

The measure was driven in the House by House Great Lakes Task Force co-chairs Bill Huizenga, R-Zeeland, and Debbie Dingell, D-Dearborn, along with other lawmakers.

“The GLRI is a tremendous example of an effective and efficient use of taxpayer dollars that protects, preserves and strengthens the Great Lakes today and for future generations,” Huizenga said. “I hope the president signs this bipartisan win for the Great Lakes as soon as possible.”

The initiative was created in 2010 at $475 million a year but was scaled back to $300 million under the Obama administration, which periodically sought to cut funding levels further but usually was fought off by Midwest lawmakers.

The Trump administration had sought for to cut GLRI funding by 90%, but the Congress had maintained funding at $300 million in the budget.