Funding Package Passes Senate

Bipartisan Legislation to Invest in Infrastructure, Public Safety, and Food Security

The Senate today passed, in vote of 84-9, a funding bill package that sets federal funding levels for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020. The funding package combines the FY 2020 Appropriations bills for Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration; Commerce, Justice, Science; Interior-Environment; and Transportation, Housing and Urban Development. As Chairman of the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee and a member of the Appropriations Committee, U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) had a significant role in crafting the final product, which includes funding programs critical to Alaska.

“This funding package is the culmination of months of hard work and thoughtful consideration by numerous members across multiple subcommittees—a true bipartisan compromise. I’m proud that we were able to come together to create legislation that directs federal dollars to some of our nation’s, and Alaska’s, most critical needs,” said Senator Murkowski. “The priorities in this bill will develop much-needed infrastructure and create greater economic opportunities, including support for Alaska’s unique and growing agriculture industry. I’m particularly proud of the provisions I secured that support Alaska’s fisheries, prioritize America’s growing role as an Arctic Nation, and help to protect from the ever-growing threat from wildfire.”

Agriculture, Rural Development, and Food & Drug Administration

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Includes $2 million for a program previously created by Senator Murkowski, the Micro-Grants for Food Security Program, to help support Alaskans’ ability to grow their own food. The funding package works to ensure low-income families, women, and children have greater food security by including, $69.1 billion for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), $6 billion for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and $526.3 million for the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). Senator Murkowski secured a provision which prevents any food containing Genetically Engineered salmon from entering the U.S. market until a consumer study is completed to determine the effectiveness of USDA’s recent labeling guidelines.

The bill funds several initiatives to help improve access to and quality of housing for low-income individuals and families, including $1.3 billion for the Rural Rental Assistance program, $45 million for the Rural Housing Assistance Grant, and $45.7 million for Community Facilities Loans and Grants. Senator Murkowski continues to build on her longstanding efforts to protect youth from becoming addicted to e-cigarettes and vaping products, through language directing the FDA to work with the CDC and other agencies to investigate the recent outbreak in pulmonary illnesses and deaths linked to vaping.

Commerce, Justice, Science  

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Senator Murkowski pushed to establish federal funding and frameworks to build on America’s strategic role in the Arctic. This bill includes $8.3 billion for the National Science Foundation (NSF), as well as language directing the NSF to consider the impact of the opening of the two transarctic sea routes and the proximity to deep-water U.S. ports. The bill includes $160 million for Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR), which includes $6 million to help us better understand the complex and rapidly changing Arctic region. Building on previous efforts, the bill also contains language to address Hydrographic Survey Priorities in the Arctic.

Senator Murkowski helped secure $497.5 million for Violence Against Women Prevention and prosecution programs. The bill also includes $38 million for state and local law enforcement and Tribal assistance and $245 million for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program, an initiative to increase the number of police officers and ensure they are properly trained.

To help increase understanding of the growing impacts of ocean acidification on our ocean resources and coastal communities, $12 million is provided. In support of Alaska’s seafood industry, Senator Murkowski helped secure $65 million for the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund which helps maintains Pacific Salmon populations and supports both the recovery and protection of all stocks. An increase of $19 million, totaling $34.5 million, is included for salmon management activities, including implementing the Pacific Salmon Treaty terms across the Northwest states.

Interior and Environment Appropriations

[Note: Senator Murkowski is chairman of the Interior-Environment Appropriations Subcommittee.]

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Full funding of $500 million is included for the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program which provides monetary compensation to local governments that contain federal lands that are not subject to state or local taxation. This bill not only invests in fire suppression, it also invests in state and volunteer fire assistance and provides increased funding for the Department of the Interior and the Forest Service for preventative measures that can be made in advance of wildfire season, such as hazardous fuels reduction.

In order to improve the federal response to the epidemic of missing, trafficked, and murdered indigenous women, $6.5 million is included for the BIA to take a comprehensive look at the issue across the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and Indian Health Service (IHS). Specifically, the bill includes funding for cold case work, background checks, equipment needs, training, and a directive for the IHS regarding forensic training. The bill also includes language directing coordination and data collection among Tribal, local, state, and federal law enforcement.

To improve water, wastewater, and drinking water systems in rural Alaska, the bill provides $2.76 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) State Water Revolving Funds program, $29.2 million for EPA’s Alaska Native Villages Water program, and $25.8 million for a grant program, to bring basic infrastructure to communities in need. The bill also addresses PFAS contamination by providing $20 million in increases to EPA grant programs to support state-led cleanup and remediation efforts of PFAS contaminated water sources, water systems, and lands.  

Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development  

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The funding package provides $162 million for Essential Air Service, to support access for rural communities otherwise isolated from the National Air Transportation System. Support is included for the FAST Act, including funding to help maintain a national ferry boat database and improve construction of ferry boats, acquiring right-of-way, and constructing ferry terminal facilities. The BUILD grant program is funded at $1 billion, an increase of $100 million from last year’s levels, to provide investments in road, rail, transit, and port projects to repair and maintain transportation networks that are critical to Alaska.

To help address housing needs for at-risk and homeless Native Veterans residing on tribal lands, the legislation allocates $1 million to continue the Tribal HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) Program. Senator Murkowski secured language which encourages the Secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development to enter into cooperative agreements with philanthropic entities, other Federal agencies, State or local governments, Indian tribes, colleges, and other entities for research into sustainable housing design, development, and construction for cold climates.

Related Issues: Budget, Spending, and the National Debt