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Jaime Herrera Beutler Supports Bill to Fund Federal Government through September

Five-month spending bill negotiated by Congress and White House includes assistance for East Lewis County communities, Southwest Washington rural health clinics, strong border security funding

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Washington, DC, May 3, 2017 | comments
Today the U.S. House of Representatives approved a federal government funding bill that runs through the end of September, and includes several Southwest Washington priorities championed by Jaime Herrera Beutler.
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Today the U.S. House of Representatives approved a federal government funding bill that runs through the end of September, and includes several Southwest Washington priorities championed by Jaime Herrera Beutler.

“This funding bill wasn’t perfect, but was necessary to provide for military readiness, border security and other essential services for the next five months.  This was the product of bipartisan agreement between the White House and Congress, and was needed before the current funding expires at the end of this week,” said Jaime. “Fortunately, it also includes some important wins for Southwest Washington that will help residents in remote communities see their doctor, utilize sufficient water and sewage systems, and benefit from a strong response to the opioid epidemic.  The White House developed this short-term spending plan with Congress as a stopgap measure, and I’m hopeful that our work on the Appropriations Committee to develop year-long spending plans that save even more taxpayer dollars and sharpen our focus on essential priorities will be adopted when it expires.”

Southwest Washington priorities included in the bill:

Preserving access to doctors in rural health clinics:  Without this bill, 18 rural health clinics in Southwest Washington are at risk of closing their doors. Jaime fought to successfully include a legislative directive to fix a faulty Washington state-based Medicaid mechanism that has left these rural clinics owing thousands of dollars in back payments, through no fault of their own.  Click here to see how Jaime has led this successful effort to protect rural health clinics.

Restoring Community Development Block Grants for Lewis County communities:  Faulty census data has led to multiple towns in Lewis County being classified as “too affluent,” and therefore not eligible for critical development grants.

Jaime has worked to correct this flawed data and help these communities qualify for resources to help with sewage and infrastructure projects that make them livable. In this spending bill, Jaime successfully included a legislative directive that calls on U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to publish the margin of error for the income data used to determine eligibility of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) grants for each town if that margin is 20% or greater. 

In order to re-qualify for CDBG grants, communities can also conduct their own income surveys – but many lack the resources to carry this out and correct the flawed data used by HUD.  Surveys can cost between $5,000 and $15,000 – a steep price for a small town already struggling to fund basic services and infrastructure improvements. That’s why Jaime fought to secure $1 million in this bill to reimburse communities who paid to conduct an income survey and proved they should have been eligible for the program.

Click here for more information about Jaime’s efforts to restore this crucial funding to Lewis County communities.

Community Development Block Grants protected for Southwest Washington cities: Jaime successfully included language to prevent the CDBG program from favoring large entitlement cities over cities like Longview and Battle Ground in obtaining these grants.  Longview uses these funds for several community needs like supporting the Help Warehouse, the Lower Columbia Community Action Program that distributes food to people in need and making vital improvements to senior housing.

Protects landowners from Waters of the U.S. Regulatory over-reach: This bill continues to block the Obama Administration definition of “waters of the U.S.” that changed 42 years of Clean Water Act protection to allow the EPA to regulate every ditch, man-made pond, and seasonally wet area on public and private property as “navigable waters.”  This protects private land owners, farmers, businesses, cities, and counties from being forced to obtain new permits for use of these broadly defined wet areas.  A Supreme Court case from 2006 cited the cost of a Clean Water Act permit at $270,000 that, on average, takes 788 days to obtain. Penalties for violation of the Clean Water Act can be up to $37,500 per day.

Opioid abuse: Programs to tackle prevention and treatment for opioid and heroine abuse are increased by $150 million over last year.  Last year, Jaime helped turn the 21st Century Cures Act into law, which boosted anti-opioid abuse efforts by $500 million – increasing the federal investment to $650 million for this fiscal year.  The bill also maintains robust funding for the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant at $1.8 billion.

Border security: The funding bill provides a $1.52 billion increase for border security efforts that will strengthen technology, infrastructure and personnel to prevent illegal border crossings.

Supporting military families and troop readiness: The bill fully funds the authorized 2.1 percent pay raise for the military, instead of 1.6 percent as requested by President Obama. It supports key readiness programs to prepare our troops for combat and peacetime missions, including flight time and training, equipment and facility maintenance, and base operations. The bill contains $314 million above the previous Administration’s request for the Defense Health Program to provide care for our troops, military families, and retirees, and it also tackles several large health risks that plague our military by providing $312 million for cancer research and $125 million for traumatic brain injury and psychological health research. It also provides $296 million for sexual assault prevention and response programs within the military.

Wildfire prevention: Wildfires have been increasing in severity over the past several years, damaging forests, threatening safety, and forcing the U.S. Forest Service to deplete its budget for forest management and other priorities. The bill fully funds fire suppression costs, based on the average from the last 10 years. It also provides $407 million in emergency funding for the FLAME wildland fire suppression reserve account to help avoid borrowing funds that are intended for forest management. The bill also calls for active forest management to prevent wildfires by reducing the fuel load and creating healthier forest – not to mention healthier species habitat.

Early earthquake detection: Given the increase in seismic activity seen on the Pacific Coast, this bill includes $10.2 million for the continued development and improvement of essential infrastructure for the early earthquake detection system.

Protecting Southwest Washington waterways from invasive species: The nonnative quagga and zebra mussels have severely damaged freshwater ecosystems in the Northeast and Southwest United States. The bill provides $5 million to watercraft inspection stations that intercept thousands of boats from all over the country to inspect for invasive mussels and decontaminate them and prevent the spread of these invasive species to uncontaminated bodies of water throughout Washington state.

Supporting local infrastructure:  The legislation funds National Infrastructure Investment grants (also known as TIGER grants) at $500 million, the same as the fiscal year 2016. These grants are awarded by the Department of Transportation to states and local communities for infrastructure construction and improvements. Southwest Washington has been a recipient of TIGER funds for several critical economic development and safety projects that directly benefit our communities.

Law enforcement: The Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program and the Byrne JAG programs provide vital support to law enforcement agencies across the country.  They fund the hiring and training of law enforcement officers, prevention and education programs, treatment and correction programs, they help purchase and deploy new crime-fighting technologies, and develop and test innovative policing strategies.  This bill includes $403 million for Byrne grants and $221.5 million for COPS programs.

Safer oil-by-rail transport: The bill includes $218 million for the Federal Railroad Administration Rail safety and operations to improve the safety of grade crossings and the movement of crude oil.

Early education: This bill promotes strong early education and provides $9.2 billion for the Head Start program, $2.8 million for Child Care and Development Block Grants, and $250 million for Preschool Development Grants.

Salmon management activities:  The bill increases funding for the National Marine Fisheries Service’s salmon management activities at hatcheries to $33.5 million, a $2 million increase over last year’s levels. There are 12 salmon hatcheries that are maintained in Southwest Washington. The boost in funding will help improve hatchery production, which supports more than 1,300 jobs and $50 million in economic activity.

Salmon Hatchery Compliance: The bill also secures $4 million to help federal and state hatchery operators gain approval for their hatchery programs that are submitted to the National Marine Fishery Service. The bill also provides $3 million increase for consultation efforts led by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reduce the fish hatchery deferred maintenance backlog. Without strong funding, Southwest Washington hatcheries have been in danger of shutting down while an approval “backlog” grows.  Such closures would have a major impact on recreational fisheries. 

Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund (PCSRF): The bill secures $65 million for PCSRF, a program that provides critical funding for recovery and sustainability projects to improve wild salmon and steelhead habitats in Pacific Northwest. As of 2015, PCSRF funding has been applied to 322 fish enhancement projects in Southwest Washington and has restored over 9,500 miles of stream on the west coast for fish passage. The restoration work done through PCSRF in part helps secure a future for recreational fishing in Washington state – an industry that as of 2011, contributed 5,100 jobs and $247 million in income for Washington residents, generated $654 million in sales and contributed $390 million to the state’s gross domestic product.

Maintaining fishing policy on Columbia River: This bill continues mass marking, a tool that that will help continue the progress being made on the restoration of salmon runs by allowing wildlife managers and fishermen to distinguish the difference between wild fish and hatchery fish on the Columbia River.

Providing financing options to rural communities: The bill provides $248 million to Community Development Financial Institutions to help them provide rural, low-income, and distressed communities with traditional banking services such as savings accounts and personal loans, and offering individuals the tools needed to become self-empowered stakeholders in their own future.  

Dredging and harbor maintenance: Jaime was able to secure $1.3 billion in harbor maintenance from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund (HMTF) with $1.969 million for critical maintenance dredging at the Port of Ilwaco. The bill also provides $21.9 million for maintenance on the mouth of the Columbia River, including critical jetty rehabilitation.  

Mental Health: The agreement increases funding for the Mental Health Block Grant by $30 million, for a total of $563 million.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):  The legislation prioritizes funding for critical disease prevention and biodefense activities, including strong funding for diabetes prevention, heart disease and stroke.  It also provides roughly $19 million for the live-saving Poison Control Centers.

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