Press Releases

Jaime Herrera Beutler Helps Shape First Year-long Federal Spending Bill Since 2011

Bill continues downward trend in federal spending while protecting Southwest Washington priorities; no funding included for CRC

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WASHINGTON, January 15, 2014 | comments

For the first time in more than two years, Congress is expected to pass a year-long spending plan written by U.S. House and Senate Appropriations Committees.  While the proposal reduces overall discretionary spending for the fourth consecutive year – something no Congress has done since the Korean War – it addresses several Southwest Washington priorities: funding for small port and channel maintenance, protection for recreational and economic opportunities within U.S. forestland, resources to support continued Hanford cleanup, and reforms and funding that will benefit Southwest Washington’s military veterans.  The bill does not direct any funding toward the troubled Columbia River Crossing (CRC) project.

 

Jaime Herrera Beutler announced that she will vote in favor of the bill today that is expected to pass the U.S. House and Senate and earn the President’s signature.  As a Member of the U.S. House Appropriations Committee, Jaime helped shape the twelve appropriations bills that make up this plan. 

 

“I’m very pleased to have helped cut through the DC partisanship to craft a responsible, bipartisan spending plan that benefits the people of Southwest Washington.  Importantly, it keeps our budget headed in the right direction by reducing overall discretionary spending.”  said Jaime.  “This bill is an example of what Congress can accomplish when we focus on fixing problems and we work together in good faith. Critical priorities such as the maintaining of our small ports like Chinook and Ilwaco; funding and reforming programs that support veterans; protecting access to our national forests for hikers, riders and responsible management; and promoting the recovery of salmon are all included in this budget. It accomplishes a lot for the hardworking people in our region while still saving the taxpayer’s hard-earned money.”    

 

Maintenance of small harbors and ports

 

Jaime was successful in securing $40 million in maintenance funds for small ports, which will come from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund that receives revenue from port users.  Since last spring, Jaime had led the fight to fund this critical priority in order to provide much-needed dredging for the Ports of Chinook and Ilwaco and others in Southwest Washington.  These coastal communities depend on small ports and harbors as economic lifelines. 

 

Protecting access to our forests

 

Jaime also was successful in her attempt to include language that would direct the U.S. Forest Service to maintain forest roads in a way that preserves recreational opportunity and reduces costs.  Currently, the Forest Service cannot adequately maintain 4,078 miles of road and 115 road bridges in the Gifford Pinchot National Forest.  Many of these roads pose safety, environmental and public health threats that must be addressed.  This bill would direct the USFS to close and stabilize the roads as opposed to permanently decommissioning them.  Along with the recreational opportunities and taxpayer savings created by this provision, access for firefighting and future forest management would still be available.

 

Hanford nuclear site cleanup

 

Jaime has actively worked to ensure the federal government keeps its commitment to clean up the Hanford nuclear site.  Funding for clean-up of Hanford was increased by $19.2 million over the President’s budget request.  This bill also provides funding for the budget of the Department of Energy’s Office of River Protection—the office in charge of the tank farms holding radioactive waste.  Increased funding levels will mean a decreased risk of negative impacts near the Hanford plant and along the Columbia River.

 

Supporting Southwest Washington veterans, active duty members

 

Keeping promises to disabled military retirees: The legislation begins to restore the Cost-of-Living Adjustments (COLA) for military retirees that were altered by the December budget agreement by putting COLA’s for disabled retirees back up to their pre-budget levels. 


Health care for rural veterans:
Jaime’s legislative initiative to require more oversight for the Veterans Affairs’ (VA) Mobile Medical Units (MMU) was included in the final bill.  While MMUs could be a vital tool to help veterans who live in rural areas, many of these units are greatly underutilized and often sit unused.  This bill would put into place more oversight and require the VA to outline a plan to use the MMUs more effectively.  More background on Jaime’s efforts is available here

 

Combating sexual assault in the military: Funding is also allocated to the Pentagon to expand military sexual assault programs and to improve counseling for military victims of rape and sexual assault—important steps to fix an issue that Jaime has spoken out against and worked to improve.

 

Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund


The Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund (PCSRF)—which provides funding for recovery and sustainability projects to improve wild salmon and steelhead habitats in Oregon, Washington, California, Alaska, Idaho, and Nevada—will maintain its current FY 2013 funding levels.  Jaime had requested maintaining this level of funding after the President’s budget request proposed slashing funding to the PCSRF by more than 23%.


No funding for troubled CRC project


The CRC continues to be plagued with design and financing flaws and fails to meet the qualifications for federal funding.  This bill preserves the funding qualifications standards for federal projects, and does not direct any money to the CRC.