Overview of Appropriations Bills Passed by the House of Representatives
(Washington, D.C.) - Earlier this week, the House passed 2 funding packages that averted another painful holiday shutdown. While the packages were not perfect, they funded vital programs that will help Americans across the country and include landmark funding for essential initiatives.
Included in those funding bills was $25 million for gun violence research at the CDC and NIH, this is the first time money has been dedicated to this desperately needed research in more than 20 years. We also secured $425 million for election security grants to protect the integrity of our elections, a priority that Republicans didn’t fund when they were in control of the House. In order to ensure that our democratic institutions are operating fairly and efficiently we must have a comprehensive and accurate census. The $7.56 billion for the Census Bureau included in the funding package will help us carry out the 2020 Census.
Education is an area where our investments have long lasting impacts that can benefit, or hinder, our progress as a society. In these bills we made it clear that education must be a priority. Important programs such as Title I, Special Education, Head Start, Preschool Development Grants, Financial Assistance programs, and more all saw their funding levels increase over previous levels.
Ensuring companies meet mandated labor standards is another important priority which is why I voted in favor of providing $12.4 billion for the Department of Labor, with $242 million for its Wage and Hour Division, $582 million for OSHA, and $106m for the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs - the federal offices that make sure workers are treated well and paid fairly.
The package also funds the Department of Energy at $38.5 billion, with $2.79 billion going to the office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, and $425 million for the Advanced Research Projects Agency - Energy (ARPA-E). These are the offices whose research yields breakthrough in clean energy technology.
Environment and Conservation
These funding bills included money for important environment and conservation programs, too. One of the bills increases funding for NOAA's Climate Research programs to $170 million and its National Ocean Service to $599 million. This money finances critical government climate change mitigation projects. $495 million is set aside for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which finances projects to protect natural areas and water resources around the country and $1.68 billion is set aside for the agencies and offices responsible for managing our nation's public lands and protecting our natural heritage for future generations to enjoy. It also provides $502 million for the National Wildlife Refuge System, $68 million for State and Tribal Wildlife Grants, and funds the National Park Service at $3.38 billion, to preserve and manage the natural wonders that dot our nation. Importantly, these bills fund the Environmental Protection Agency at $9.06 billion. This money will provide hundreds of millions of dollars for important conservation and climate change mitigation work around the country.
Funding was allocated to programs that assist our veterans who need help reintegrating after service with $311 million for the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service, $55 million for the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program, $29 million for Transition Assistance, and $300,000 to establish Disabled Veteran Program. In addition to assisting veterans transition to civilian life, these bills finance our nation's veterans' care programs and military construction projects. It finances the building of new military family housing at $1.3 billion and provides $216.5 billion for the Department of Veterans' Affairs (VA). This money will go toward the medical services that the VA provides former servicemembers, finances upgrades to the VA's health records systems, and provides $125m to address the veterans' disability claims backlog.
Transportation & Infrastructure
As a member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, I know how desperately we need funding to fix our deteriorating roads, bridges, tunnels, and rail lines. While we need more than what is included in these bills, the money provided is a good baseline for us to build upon. The $86.2 billion for the Department of Transportation (DOT), and the provisions included in the bill, are important steps forward for the Gateway Project and replacing the aging tunnels that connect our district to New York. The bills fund grants that finance State of Good Repair projects at $200 million, rail infrastructure and safety grants at $325 million, and grants to Amtrak's Northeast Corridor at $700 million. It also provides nearly $2 billion for grants that finance new transportation infrastructure.
There are provisions that require DOT to consider transportation infrastructure projects fairly, as quickly as possible, and must provide project applicants with enough advance notice to give everyone time to prepare their project application. In addition, it prohibits DOT from playing political games with the funding. Congress is ordering that DOT use these funds to help infrastructure projects that are ready to go and serve an important regional and national need. This includes the Gateway Project.
In this minibus a substantial amount of funding was granted to many health programs that I care deeply about. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) was provided a total of $94.9 billion in funding, $4.4 billion more than in 2019. We increased funding for the National Institutes of Health by $2.6 billion from last year so that we can pursue innovative treatments and cures to help Americans suffering from a variety of health issues. Specifically, the package includes $2.8 billion for Alzheimer’s research, $3.1 billion for HIV/AIDS research, $195 million for the Cancer Moonshot initiative, and $200 million for research to develop a universal flu vaccine, just to name a few.
Within the $8 billion significant increases for major public health efforts are included such as $10 million for the establishment of a suicide prevention program, $230 million to address tobacco & e-cigarettes, and $173.4 million for global disease detection efforts. The inclusion of $10 million for a suicide prevention program is a step in the right direction for this nation to address mental health issues, which also benefits from the $5.9 billion for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). This funding will go to crucial mental health resources for children and youth, substance abuse treatment and prevention, as well as increased funding for suicide lifeline and prevention efforts.
$944 million is also included to improve maternal and child health and reduce maternal mortality and $286 million in funding set aside for the Title X Family Planning program. The package provides $4 billion for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), almost $400 million more than the President’s requested budget. This funding is crucial to ensuring that Medicare and Medicaid programs are responsive and effective.
While this list is long, the bills we passed included funding for hundreds of programs and provisions that will benefit communities across the country. For more information visit the House Appropriations Committee website for a summary https://appropriations.house.gov/