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JON TESTER Seas Anited States Senate ees NMENTAC AFFAIRS November 18, 2015 ‘The Honorable Thad Cochran ‘The Honorable Barbara Mikulski Chairman Vice Chairwoman Senate Committee on Appropriations Senate Committee on Appropriations Washington, DC 20510 Washington, DC 20510 Dear Chairman Cochran and Vice Chairwoman Mikulski: I write to you regarding funding for congressionally authorized rural drinking water projects funded through the Bureau of Reclamation. Now that Congress has enacted the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 and increased the funds available for discretionary, non-defense spending for Fiscal Year 2016, I strongly urge you to increase funding for construction for these ‘water projects in a final agreement on the Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill Congress has specifically authorized large-scale drinking water infrastructure projects in several westem states to deliver safe, reliable drinking water supplies to rural communities and Indian Reservations. The Administration’s budget request significantly underfunds construction on these rural water projects, including a total of just $18.5 million in its budget request for FY 2016. The recommendation passed out of Committee earlier this year includes additional funding of $29.7 million, bringing total construction funding to $48.2 million, far from what is necessary to make real progress on the completion of these critical infrastructure initiatives. Though I appreciate the Committee’s work to increase funding above the Administration's budget request, the amount provided in the Senate Committee-passed bill still falls well short of what is needed to keep these projects on track. A congressionally mandated report issued by the Bureau of Reclamation in October 2014 found that at an appropriations level of approximately $50 million annually, some of the currently authorized projects would not be complete until well after 2065, despite close to $4 billion being invested by that time due to inflation and the rising costs of materials and labor. During Committee consideration of the bill, I offered an amendment that would have increased funding by an additional $14 million. Providing adequate funding in the near term helps advance construction on the projects, which saves taxpayer dollars over the long term. As you work to craft a bipartisan spending agreement for the Energy and Water Development ‘Appropriations bill, [respectfully request that you increase funding for rural water projects by at least $14 million, and I stand ready to work with you to that end. Sincerely, 148) 586-2450 406) 723-2217 Gear Faus Heuena Kausre (406) 452-9 140g) 449-6401

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