Bustos Helps Pass Funding Packages With Major Local Wins

With Critical Bustos Provisions Included, Appropriations Bills Pass Full House

Washington – Yesterday, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17), a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, helped pass, out of the House of Representatives, two major funding packages to fully fund the federal government. Congresswoman Bustos secured sweeping wins for hardworking Illinoisans in both packages, including provisions addressing health care needs in rural America, ensuring our nation’s veterans have access to services regardless of their zip code, strengthening our military and support for our servicemembers, investing in infrastructure, from roads and bridges to locks and dams, securing our elections and more.

“I am proud that we have delivered solutions to help veterans access care, improve rural health care access, reinforce our long tradition of service, assist our teachers and more,” Congresswoman Bustos said. “This legislation will fully fund our government while also investing in our region, state and country. This week, I cast my vote to support this meaningful step towards improving the lives of so many Illinoisans.”

By fully funding the federal government, this legislation will avert a disastrous shutdown like the one that hurt families in Illinois and across the country last year. The first package consists of the domestic and international assistance appropriations bills, which reflect eight appropriations priorities: Labor-Health and Human Services-Education, Agriculture, Energy and Water Development, Interior-Environment, Legislative Branch, Military Construction-Veterans Affairs, State-Foreign Operations, and Transportation-Housing and Urban Development.

The second package is focused on national security appropriations and includes four appropriations bills: Defense, Commerce-Justice-Science, Financial Services and General Government, and Homeland Security.

BACKGROUND

As a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, Congresswoman Bustos worked to secure a number of critical victories for Illinoisans:

Labor, Health and Humans Services (HHS), and Education

  • $120 million for the National Health Service Corps, which helps recruit health providers to underserved communities, including rural areas. This is a $15 million increase.
  • An increase of $550 million for the Child Care and Development Block Grant, for a total of $5.8 billion. 
  • An increase of $550 million for Head Start, which helps children become school-ready, for a total of $10.6 billion.
  • An increase of $50 million for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which helps assist families with energy costs, for a total of $3.7 billion.
  • An increase of $178 million for the Employment Training Administration, which helps train and put people to work. This is a total of $9.3 billion and $1.4 billion above the Administration’s budget request.
  • A requirement for HHS to coordinate with the Department of Agriculture and its newly established Rural Health Liaison, a position created by Congresswoman Bustos in last year’s Farm Bill.
  • A directive for the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to examine how it can better recruit and train primary care physicians to address shortages of providers.
  • A requirement for HHS to update the Appropriations Committee on strategies and best practices for coordination with schools and programs offering rural health curriculum – such as medical residencies – to improve the health care workforce in rural communities.
  • A requirement for the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to issue a report on teacher shortages and the factors contributing to challenges with teacher recruitment and retention.

Defense

  • $79 million in funding for engine enhancement packages for C-130H aircraft – like those in operation at the 182nd Air National Guard squadron in Peoria – in order to ensure that our Air Force is operating with state-of-the-art equipment.
  • $5 million in new funding to lay the groundwork for future projects and additional funding to continue current projects carried out by the Rock Island Arsenal’s Joint Manufacturing and Technology Center (JMTC). The bill also includes $5 million funding for the conversion of Humvees into service trucks, or Shop Equipment Contact Maintenance (SECM), which hold tools and equipment needed to repair damaged vehicles on the battlefield.
  • Language directing the Department of Defense to identify additional activities that will benefit from the unique capabilities of the recently created Center for Excellence for Advanced and Additive Manufacturing at the Rock Island Arsenal.

Interior

  • $1.64 billion of funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF), $500 million more than the Administration’s previous request. States can utilize CWSRF funds for low-cost financing of water infrastructure projects.
  • $1.13 billion of funding for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF), $260 million more than the Administration’s previous request. The DWSRF provides low-interest financing to communities to ensure their drinking water is safe.
  • $15 million of funding for the Grassroots Rural and Small Community Water Systems Act, including $1.7 million for Technical Assistance for Water Treatment Works. These programs serve 80% of the country’s public wastewater treatment utilities and 91% of drinking water systems that serve fewer than 10,000 people, by helping these communities comply with Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act mandates.

Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD)

  • $10 million for aviation workforce development grants for the aircraft pilot workforce and aviation maintenance workforce, in order to address the skills gap in the industry.
  • Funding for the Rural Housing Stability grant program, which will help address homelessness and housing affordability in rural communities.
  • Support for a multi-year extension of federal funding for the Quad-Cities-to-Chicago rail line.
  • A requirement that the Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and Justice (DOJ) coordinate and report to Congress on their efforts to prevent sexual harassment in public housing.
  • Support for HUD cooperation with the Environmental Protection Agency, in order to ensure that all HUD-assisted and low-income housing residents have access to housing that is free of lead and other contaminants.

Energy and Water Development

  • $10 million for the Vehicle Technologies Program, which promotes research into energy efficiency in off-road vehicles, such as industrial and farming equipment. At the Congresswoman’s request, the bill requires that half of those funds be directed towards the study of fluid power systems, which could lead to cost savings for producers across Illinois.
  • Language that urges the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the Rock Island District to begin pre-construction engineering and design for the Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program (NESP), following the completion of a new economic study. NESP would update to 1200 feet the locks along the Upper Mississippi River System while investing in ecological restoration of the waterway.

Military Construction-Veterans Affairs

  • $80.2 billion in funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical care, including $300 million in rural health initiatives for the VA.
  • $222 million in funding for suicide prevention outreach.
  • A direction that the VA spend $5 million toward a pilot program to address transportation obstacles faced by rural veterans, a problem Congresswoman Bustos consistently hears about when traveling through Northwest Illinois.
  • A mandate that the VA issue a report and develop a plan of action to address the challenges of contacting hard-to-reach rural veterans.
  • Language regarding the lack of rural health care providers and urging the VA to consider the expanded use of physician assistants to address the rural health provider gap. The agreement also requires a report from VA with a plan to address this provider gap.
  • Support for telehealth and broadband programs, which help rural veterans receive care that facilities could otherwise not provide in that area.

Commerce, Justice, Science

  • Bureau of Prisons (BOP) salary and expense account increases in order to support federal workers employed by BOP in Thomson and Pekin.
  • Congresswoman Bustos recently introduced the Boosting America’s Exports Act (BAE Act) – a bill designed to help small- and medium-sized businesses increase their exports and compete across the globe. Congresswoman Bustos included language from this bill in the funding package that directs the International Trade Administration to analyze the location of U.S. Export Assistance Centers, the services they provide and whether they can better assist small and medium sized businesses export their products.

Homeland Security

  • After heavy rainfall and flooding, Congresswoman Bustos fought to deliver a provision encouraging the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide improved technical assistance to states applying for the Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant Program. In Fiscal Year 2018, the State of Illinois was denied participation in the program, negatively impacting communities like Freeport and Moline – this will help ensure that Illinois and other states are able to fully participate in this program.
  • Increased funding for FEMA’s RiskMAP Program, which helps communities identify and plan for flood risks.

Financial Services and General Government

  • $425 million in Election Security Grants from the Election Assistance Commission, an account that received zero funding last year.
  • $132.5 million in funding for the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
  • $998.5 million in funding for the Small Business Administration, including $261 million for Entrepreneurial Development Programs.
  • Increased funding for Oversight.gov, which would improve government transparency by making their resources more efficient and accessible to the public.
  • A provision to direct the Federal Communications Commission to work with the Federal State Joint Board to complete their evaluation of Universal Service Fund contribution reform efforts to better serve key broadband and telephone service to rural areas.

Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA, and Related Agencies

  • $640 million to expand Broadband in rural underserved areas.
  • $3.2 billion for Agriculture Research to support research at all ARS facilities to help mitigate and stop devastating crop diseases, improve food safety and water quality, increase production, develop critically needed vaccines for diseases like African swine fever, and combat antimicrobial resistance.
  • Requirement that the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) fill its vacant staff positions with permanent scientists, in order to help the Peoria Ag Lab fully staff up. Earlier this year, Congresswoman Bustos worked across party lines with Congressman Darin LaHood (IL-18) to ensure the President’s budget included funding for the Peoria Ag Lab, after it was originally proposed to be eliminated.
  • Directs the USDA to designate a Rural Health Liaison in the Office of the Secretary no later than 90 days after the enactment of this bill.
  • $1.45 billion for USDA Water and Sewer Loans and Grants for clean and reliable drinking water systems and sanitary waste disposal systems.
  • Increased funding for Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grants to expand access to critical health and education services in more rural areas.

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