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Jaime Herrera Beutler’s Legislation to Block Oregon Tolling Scheme, Strengthen Southwest Washington Priorities Advances through U.S. House

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Washington, D.C., September 15, 2017 | comments
U.S. Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler’s legislative provision to prohibit Oregon’s unfair tolling scheme, and others to strengthen critical Southwest Washington priorities, were approved by the U.S. House and advanced to the U.S. Senate yesterday.
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U.S. Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler’s legislative provision to prohibit Oregon’s unfair tolling scheme, and others to strengthen critical Southwest Washington priorities, were approved by the U.S. House and advanced to the U.S. Senate yesterday.

These Jaime-authored provisions were included in the spending plan put together by the U.S. House Appropriations Committee for the 2018 fiscal year. As a member of the committee, Jaime took part in successfully advancing all 12 Appropriation funding bills through the U.S House for the first time in seven years – meaning every program subject to appropriation received full debate and was subject to amendment by the entire U.S. House.

“I work for residents of Southwest Washington; their economic well-being, health, and security are foremost in my mind when we are debating how to best allocate their tax dollars,” said Jaime. “I’m pleased this spending plan defends Washington commuters from paying Oregon a senseless toll that won’t improve our shared infrastructure needs, and hope Senators Murray and Cantwell will join me in this effort. The other priorities I helped secure for economic development of rural communities, salmon runs, wildfire prevention, and the support for our retired military servicemen and women will help make life better for folks in our region.”

What this spending plan does for Southwest Washington:

Blocks Oregon from its current tolling scheme for I-5 and I-205: Jaime’s amendment prohibits Oregon’s proposal to establish tolls on I-5 and I-205 at the state lines, providing minimal benefit to Southwest Washington commuters who would be paying the bulk of the tolls.

Provides wildland firefighting & prevention: The bill includes $3.4 billion for wildland firefighting and prevention programs, fully funding the 10-year average for wildland fire suppression costs for both the Dept. of the Interior and the U.S. Forest Service.

Restores assistance for Lewis County communities: Faulty census data has led to multiple towns in Lewis County being classified as “too affluent” by the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and therefore not eligible for critical development grants called Community Development Block Grants (CDBG). Jaime’s provision requires transparency in data by HUD and also requires them to formulate alternative ways to measure a community’s income level other than the flawed data it has been using that has margins of error as high as 91.5%.

Mitigates fishery disasters: The bill includes $20 million for fishery disasters in Washington state, and provides additional resources to help mitigate the economic distress felt by these communities and support efforts to restore salmon runs.

Provides research for agriculture: Funding of $2.8 billion is included for the Agriculture Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture to support research that helps farmers mitigate and stop devastating crop diseases. This funding is also important for improving food and safety and water quality, increasing production, and combating antimicrobial resistance; also support land grant universities.

Raises pay for military: Members of the military will receive a 2.4 percent pay raise in this bill.

Provides prevention measures against military sexual assault: The bill secures $277 million for sexual assault prevention and response within the military. Read more about Jaime’s amendments to protect survivors of military sexual assault here.

Provides health care research for military service members: Cancer research will receive $282 million, and $125 million will go to traumatic brain injury and psychological health research.

Repeals “Waters of the U.S. Rule:” The bill withdraws the Water of the United States rule, which made ditches, man-made ponds, and seasonally wet areas on private property subject to additional federal control and massive costs. You can read Jaime’s statement on this issue here.

Protects waterways from invasive species: Included in the bill is $5 million for watercraft inspection stations that intercept thousands of boats from all over the country to look for invasive mussels, decontaminate them, and prevent the spread of these invasive species from entering bodies of water throughout Southwest Washington.

Supports law enforcement: The Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program will receive $100 million, and $500 million is available for grants to provide vital support to law enforcement agencies to hire and train officers; fund prevention and education programs; support treatment and correction programs; purchase and deploys new crime-fighting technologies; and develop and test innovative policing strategies.

Improves safety of oil-by-rail transport: The bill has $218 million for the Federal Railroad Administration rail safety and operations to improve the safety of grade crossings and the movement of crude oil; includes funding for crude oil safety inspectors, safety route managers and tank car quality assurance specialists.

Supports the U.S. Coast Guard’s disaster relief efforts: Included in the bill is $10.5 billion for the Coast Guard that continues to support the safety and security of our nation as demonstrated by its heroic efforts in response to hurricane Harvey and Irma.

Protects against cyberattacks: Also included is $1.8 billion to combat increasingly dangerous and numerous cyberattacks to enhance critical infrastructure and prevent hacking.

Supports veterans’ mental health: Jaime secured language that will direct the VA to assess the importance of outdoor recreation as a means of addressing the physiological, psychological, social, and emotional wellbeing of patients.

Enhances education: She also secured funding for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (CCLC) program which gives students the opportunity to enhance their education during non-school hours. Institutions in Longview, Vancouver and Ocean Beach School Districts are recipients of these grants.

Supports female veterans and increase funding for the VA: Jaime secured legislative solutions to address the growing demand for female veterans to receive maternity care and mental health support from VA.  The bill also increases funding for the VA by $5.3 billion over last year’s budget.

Advances maternity care priorities: Jaime’s legislative efforts secured funding for postpartum depression screening, prenatal screening education, pregnancy-related research at NIH, and breastfeeding-related research.