Spending bill includes disaster funds

Some of the money would help Colo. recover from wildfires

WASHINGTON – Congress passed a stopgap measure Thursday to fund the government through September and avert a shutdown.

In the legislation, which now is headed to President Barack Obama for his signature, there is $65.5 million in funding for the Emergency Watershed Protection program.

The federal program is intended to mitigate dangers to life and property caused by natural disasters, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s website.

For Colorado, this funding will help communities recovering from the Waldo Canyon and High Park wildfires, according to Sen. Michael Bennet’s office.

“Communities in Colorado will finally be able to complete these vital recovery projects that will protect drinking water and watershed infrastructure,” Bennet, D-Colo., said in a news release.

Sen. Mark Udall’s news release echoed Bennet’s.

“More than seven months after Colorado experienced the most destructive wildfire season on record, we are now closer to sending help than ever before. We are finally circling the wagons and affirming that we are all in this together,” said Udall, D-Colo.

The House version of the stopgap bill – known as a continuing resolution – only had $48 million in Emergency Watershed Protection funding, said Udall’s office. The final version has $65.5 million for the program.

U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, Bennet and Udall all voted in favor of the continuing resolution.

Congress will adjourn for a two-week recess beginning this weekend.

Stefanie Dazio is a student at American University in Washington, D.C., and an intern for The Durango Herald. You can reach her at sdazio@durangoherald.com.

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