Congress agrees to $300M measure aimed at protecting the Great Lakes

Trump’s budget would eliminate the program, which started in 2010.

Tucked into the $1 trillion spending measure that averted a government shutdown is $300 million for a program aimed at protecting the Great Lakes, Sens. Sherrod Brown and Rob Portman announced Monday.

The funding is only guaranteed through the end of September, however, and President Donald Trump’s fiscal 2018 budget — which hasn’t been voted on — calls for eliminating the program.

Both Ohio senators said the fact that Congress agreed to restore the funding this year is a sign the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative still has plenty of support in the House and Senate.

The initiative, launched in 2010, aims to clean up the Great Lakes, reduce the nutrient runoff that contributes to the growth of algal blooms and help control the spread of invasive species.

Toledo’s public drinking-water system was shut down for three days in 2014 because of an abundance of microcystin-producing algae in Lake Erie.

Brown, D-Ohio, said the investment will mean “investing in local jobs and ensuring clean drinking water for Ohio.”

Portman, R-Ohio, said: “The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative has been an effective public-private program protecting the lake from threats like harmful algae and invasive species like Asian carp….I will continue to work with my bipartisan colleagues to protect this program in the future.”

Congress will vote on the $1 trillion spending bill — which will pay for the government — later this week. The bill also will include more than $160 million in federal dollars to fight the opioid crisis.

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