Murkowski: Big Impacts for Alaska in Funding Bill
Boost for Defense, Safety, and Combatting Substance Abuse
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Early today, the Senate passed a bill that sets federal funding levels for the remainder of the fiscal year, providing the biggest defense spending increase in fifteen years and the largest pay increase for our troops in close to a decade. In addition, it makes significant investments in addressing school safety, fighting the opioid epidemic, and combatting substance abuse. As Chairman of the Interior Appropriations subcommittee and 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, many of which the administration proposed to be cut.
“Through this bill, we make significant investments in addressing some of our nation’s most dire needs. Public safety is a top priority and as we reinvest in our nation’s defense we also must protect Americans from threats as well as prioritize our students by making their schools safer and more secure. We also direct significant resources for prevention, treatment, and enforcement to combat the opioid epidemic,” said Senator Murkowski. “We target funding and provide resources where they are most needed. I’m proud of the work we have done to empower Alaskans to build our economy and create healthy communities for our families. These investments will have a long-lasting impact on our state and nation.”
- $2 billion in mental health, training, and school safety efforts to keep our kids and schools safe.
- Enactment of the NICS Fix bill, which Senator Murkowski cosponsored, by mandating federal agencies to send information that would disqualify an individual from purchasing a firearm to the National Instant Criminal Background Check system in a timely fashion and incentivizing states to do so.
- Enactment of the STOP School Violence Act, legislation that Senator Murkowski cosponsored, which helps ensure lifesaving resources are available to states and schools to stop violence before it happens.
- $75 million for comprehensive school safety initiative grants authorized by the STOP School Violence Act.
- $492 million for Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) grant programs.
- $700 million to help fire departments hire firefighters, purchase apparatus and acquire personal protective equipment.
Defense and Homeland Security:
- 2.4% military pay increase, the largest in eight years.
- $169 million toward the cost of building a new polar icebreaker. The administration has requested an additional $750 million for construction of the new icebreaker in its Fiscal Year 2019 budget request.
- $168.9 million for military construction projects at Eielson Air Force Base.
- $6 million for threat improvements on the Joint Pacific Alaska Range Complex
- $3 million for the first phase of a microgrid study at Eielson Air Force Base
- Additional funding to strengthen and expand the Ground Based Midcourse Missile Defense (GMD) system at Fort Greely and early warning radars in Alaska.
- Mandate that the VA aggressively move to fill health provider vacancies in Alaska by providing targeted recruiting and retention bonuses, active recruiting of separating military medical professionals, and coordinating recruitment efforts with other Alaska healthcare providers.
- Mandate that the VA continue to support partnerships with the Alaska Native healthcare system and Community Health Care centers to supplement the VA’s own healthcare delivery programs, particularly in the rural areas.
- $100 million for the Rural Communities Opioids Response Program, a new program to support treatment for and prevention of substance use disorder.
- $446.5 million, a significant increase for grants to help states, tribes and communities address the opioid and heroin epidemic.
- $5.01 billion for SAMHSA, an $800 million increase in grants for addressing behavior health, substance abuse, suicide prevention, and postpartum.
Alaska Specific Priorities:
- Secure Rural Schools: Reauthorizes the Secure Rural Schools program for two years to help provide funds for school and local budgets across Alaska.
- Denali Commission: $30 million for the agency tasked with coordination of construction and infrastructure efforts in rural Alaska, originally proposed to be eliminated by the administration. This includes $15 million specifically for one-time assistance for adaptation response for the most urgent needs of rural Alaska villages facing erosion, flooding, and permafrost degradation threats.
- Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP): Originally proposed to be eliminated by the administration, the bill allocates $3.64 billion, a $250 million increase for the program which acts as a crucial supplement for many Alaskans who face the highest energy prices in the nation.
- Essential Air Service: Provides $155 million to support access for rural communities otherwise isolated from the National Air Transportation System.
- Transportation Investment Generating Economic Development (TIGER) Grants: Provides $1.5 billion for capital projects that generate economic development and improve access to reliable, safe, and affordable transportation for communities, such as investing in road, rail, transit, and port projects to maintain transportation networks critical to Alaska.
- Genetically Engineered Salmon Import Ban: Senator Murkowski secured a continuation of the import ban from her previous efforts directing the FDA not to allow the introduction or delivery for introduction into interstate commerce of any food that contains genetically engineered salmon until the FDA publishes final labeling guidelines for informing consumers of such content.
This Consolidated Appropriations Act completes the Fiscal Year 2018 funding cycle and includes all 12 of the annual appropriations bills for the fiscal year. Click here for provisions Senator Murkowski secured in the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee portion of the bill.