The Committee on Environment and Natural Resources (CENR) has recognized a high priority need to integrate and coordinate federal agencies' efforts in order to enable a comprehensive evaluation of our nation's environmental resources and ecological systems. The federal government spends about $640 million per year collecting data about our forests, agricultural and rangelands, lakes, rivers, estuaries, and coastal marine systems. These efforts have significantly aided the progress in preserving and protecting the environment in recent decades but are not sufficiently coordinated to provide us a truly comprehensive status report or full understanding of the causes and effects of environmental change. This paper describes the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources and its functions, provides a status report on the Environmental Monitoring and Research Initiative, and offers some perspectives on the factors that will make the initiative and its contributing programs a success. In particular, the paper discusses the potential relationship with the Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (EMAP).