H.R. 295, To reauthorize the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Historic Preservation program

H.R. 295

To reauthorize the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Historic Preservation program

Sponsor
Rep. James E. Clyburn

Date
September 12, 2016 (114th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact
Communications

Floor Situation

On­­­­ Monday, September 12, 2016, the House will consider H.R. 295, to reauthorize the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Historic Preservation program, under suspension of the rules. H.R. 295 was introduced on January 13, 2015, by Rep. James Clyburn (D-SC) and was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, which ordered the bill reported as amended by unanimous consent on March 16, 2016.

Bill Summary

H.R. 295 amends the Omnibus Parks and Public Lands Management Act of 1996 to reauthorize the Historic Preservation Fund activities related to the preservation and restoration of historic buildings and structures on the campuses of historically black colleges and universities for FY2017-FY2023.

Background

The National Park Service (NPS) first established the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) Preservation Program with the award of grants in 1988 to help document, preserve, and repair important historic structures located on HBCU campuses. Since the creation of the program, the NPS has awarded over $60 million to HBCUs as a means to help them maintain and make needed repairs to historic buildings. These maintenance projects can include: damaged masonry repair, structural stabilization, substituting antiquated electrical and obsolete plumbing systems, mitigating environmental and health hazards such as asbestos, repairing structural damage caused by termites, fixing leaking roofs, and offering handicapped accessibility.[1]

Originally, the Omnibus Parks and Public Lands Management Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-333) authorized the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF) to provide funding for maintenance and restoration projects at HBCUs. Congress authorized $29 million in appropriations for this program and also required HBCUs to raise 50 percent of the funds locally to help match the federal grant. The legislation specified that $23 of the $29 million in grants would be reserved for twelve particular HBCUs. Eventually, the Fiscal Year 2001 Interior Appropriations Act (Public Law 106-291) provided funding that helped to complete these same twelve projects. In 2003, Congress amended the Omnibus Parks and Public Lands Management Act of 1996 to authorize an additional $10 million in funding for each fiscal year between 2003 and 2008, and decreased the matching fundraising requirement for HBCUs from 50 percent to 30 percent. However, although funding was authorized, Congress did not appropriate the full $10 million for each of those specified fiscal years; instead, Congress appropriated no funds in FY2003, $2.96 million in FY 2004, $3.45 million in FY2005, $2.96 million in FY2006, and no funds in either FY2007 and FY2008.[2]

Despite the fact that the HPF has not authorized any further appropriations for HBCUs since FY2008, Congress did appropriate an additional $15 million for HBCUs in supplemental funding for FY 2009 as a part of the American Recovery Act and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-5). Additionally, the local matching requirement was waived for the HBCUs. [3]

Authorization for the HBCU Preservation Program has since expired. According to the bill’s sponsor, “The structures of these (HBCU) campuses across the country are living testaments to African American history and deserve to be stabilized and restored.”[4]

———————-
[1] See House Report 114-549, at 1-2.
[2] Id, at 2.
[3] Id.
[4] See Rep. Clyburn’s Press Release, January 13, 2015.

Cost

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that implementing the legislation would cost about $3 million a year and $12 million over the 2017-2021 period, assuming appropriation of the estimated amounts and consistent with the current authorization level. Enacting the bill would not affect direct spending or revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.

Additional Information

For questions or further information please contact John Wilson with the House Republican Policy Committee by email or at 6-1811.