Home Warner and Kaine secure federal funding in 2024 for Virginia priorities
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Warner and Kaine secure federal funding in 2024 for Virginia priorities

Rebecca Barnabi
virginia business economy
(© michaklootwijk – stock.adobe.com)

The U.S. Senate’s Fiscal Year 2024 draft funding bills contains 12 bills with key Virginia priorities.

“We are proud to announce that the Senate’s draft government spending legislation for Fiscal Year 2024 includes critical funding that will keep the government open, back record investments in infrastructure and U.S. competitiveness, uplift rural and underserved communities, support servicemembers and military families, provide assistance to miners suffering from black lung disease, and support key industries that are central to Virginia’s economy. We’re also proud to have secured more than $111 million for specific community projects all throughout Virginia as we work to ensure our federal budget meets Virginians’ needs. We hope that our colleagues in the House of Representatives will negotiate in good faith in order to reach a compromise on a final deal that includes funding for these important priorities,” Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine of Virginia announced in late August.

Members of Congress worked with constituents to determine the importance of funding for local community projects, otherwise known as earmarks, in a manner that promotes transparency and accountability. The process allows Congress to dedicate federal funding for specific projects in Virginia. The Senators worked to secure more than $111 million for community projects across the Commonwealth. The Senators will also work to ensure funds obtained by Virginia House members remain in the final spending bills.

Warner and Kaine secured $72,000 for the Shenandoah Valley Black Heritage Project, which will create a database of historic sites and burial grounds in the Valley. Data collected will be used to create 14 driving history tours with video and audio interviews from Valley residents available free online.

The Appalachian Regional Commission will receive $200 million and the Southeast Crescent Regional Commission will receive $20 million to support their work to build economic partnerships, create opportunity and foster economic development.

The CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 will allow the U.S. to keep pace with China and other competitors in scientific fields that power the economy, including artificial intelligence, quantum computing, microelectronics, clean energy and advanced communications. Virginia will receive $11 million toward implementation.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act provides full funding for transportation programs, including $29.5 billion for the National Highway Performance Program, $3.1 billion for the Highway Safety Improvement Program, $245 million for the Rail-Highway Grade Crossings Program, $14.3 billion for the Surface Transportation Block Grant Program, and $2.4 billion for the Bridge Investment Program.

Federal funding will provide $150 million for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) and $45 million for the Active Transportation Infrastructure Investment Program, which supports multi-purpose trails.

Violence Against Women Prevention and Prosecution programs will receive $732 million, an increase of $32 million from 2023. Funding will help prevent violence and better support survivors. The legislation also includes more than $534 million for Community Oriented Policing Services to support state and local law enforcement and communities in developing comprehensive, evidence-based violence intervention and prevention programs based on partnerships between community residents, law enforcement, local government agencies and other community stakeholders. Efforts to address gang and gun violence and improve school safety are included.

The nationwide implementation of the Ashanti Alert System, legislation introduced by Warner in 2018, will receive $1 million to create a new federal alert system for missing or endangered adults between the ages of 18 and 64. The bill was signed into law on December 31, 2018.

Federal funding will invest $8.7 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), which provides financial assistance to help low-income families access child care. Funding in 2024 will be an increase of $700 million from 2023. The bill also includes $12.3 billion, $300 million more than in 2023, for Head Start, the national school readiness program. In July, Warner and Kaine urged the White House to provide additional funding to help stabilize the child care industry. In April, Kaine introduced the Child Care for Working Families Act, legislation that would help ensure families can find and afford child care by expanding access to more high-quality options, stabilizing the child care sector, and helping ensure child care workers taking care of our nation’s kids are paid livable wages. The bill also includes $15 million for the Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health program, a program reauthorized by Kaine.

A $250 boost to the maximum Pell Grant in the 2024-2025 school year raises the maximum award to $7,645 and makes higher education more affordable. The bill also includes more than $1 billion, an increase of $5 million, for programs to strengthen Historically Black Colleges and Universities and other minority-serving institutions.

More than $18.5 billion for Title I-A grants, which supports school districts with low-income students is $175 million more than budgeted in 2023. The bill also provides more than $5 billion for the primary Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Special Education State grant program, an increase of $175 million from 2023. In July, Kaine reintroduced the IDEA Full Funding Act, legislation that would ensure Congress fulfills its commitment to fully fund IDEA through regular, mandatory increases in spending.

Virginians and Americans face a housing crisis, and federal funding would provide $1.5 billion for the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, which provides funding to state and local governments for housing construction, and $3.3 billion in Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), which can be used to support affordable housing, community development and economic development. Also includes $3.9 billion for Homeless Assistance Grants (HAG), to help families and individuals experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

The bill includes $6.3 billion, an increase of $615 million from 2023, for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) to ensure more than 6 million women, infants and children can access adequate nutrition. Legislation would fully fund the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to serve an estimated 42 million per month with no new restrictions on eligibility and fully funds the Child Nutrition Programs to help serve an estimated 5 billion lunches and 2.6 billion breakfasts to American children.

The Food for Peace program would receive $1.8 billion to fight world hunger, and $248.3 million would go to the McGovern-Dole Food for Education program, while the State and Foreign Operations bill provides a $691 million increase in funding for humanitarian assistance programs, including increased investments in addressing global hunger and enhancing food security.

The U.S. also faces an opioid crisis. Funding in 2024 would provide $5 billion, an increase of $125 million from 2023, for opioid treatment and prevention. This includes $40 million for the Substance Use Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery Services Block Grant; $20 million for the State Opioid Response grants; $10 million for the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program; and $20 million for NIH opioid research programs.

The war on fentanyl includes $719 million to improve the detection and seizure of fentanyl and other narcotics at ports of entry with new technology and personnel. An investment of $105 million in new resources would disrupt transnational criminal organizations and stop fentanyl and illicit drugs at their source.

Post-COVID-19 global pandemic, Long COVID affects Virginians and Americans, and $10 million for the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) will support access to comprehensive, coordinated and person-centered care, particularly for underserved, rural, vulnerable or minority populations that are disproportionately impacted by the effects of Long COVID. Also includes $5 million for the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to establish a network of Long COVID Centers of Excellence that can gather, develop and disseminate data regarding evidence-based treatment; educate and train providers on best practices; conduct outreach to affected populations and community organizations; and coordinate access to care.

Rural Health programs would receive a $12 million increase, including a $10 million increase in the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program and a $2 million increase for the Rural Health Outreach program, which supports projects that demonstrate new and innovative modes of outreach in rural areas. Also includes $5 million to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to establish an Office of Rural Health.

In addressing the maternal mortality crisis in America, an increase of $10 million would go to the Implementing a Maternal health and Pregnancy Outcomes Vision for Everyone (IMPROVE) Initiative to combat alarming rates of maternal mortality, as well as an increase of $2.5 million for programs to improve health outcomes during and after pregnancy and reduce disparities in maternal and infant health outcomes. Also includes $110.5 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions Safe Motherhood and Infant Health programs, which is a $2.5 million increase from 2023 and more than $1.7 billion for the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, which is a $10 million increase from 2023.

The U.S. will be prepared for the next pandemic with $3.67 billion for the Administration for Strategic Preparedness and Response (ASPR), including a $20 million increase for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to support the advanced development of vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics and devices for potential serious public health threats, and $75 million to establish a new program in manufacturing and production to ensure that critical resources including medical countermeasures and ancillary supplies are manufactured in the United States.

Pediatric research is prioritized with $12.6 million to further fund the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act, legislation named after a child from Loudoun County who died from a brain tumor in 2013.

Federal funding includes $133 million for refugee settlement to meet the goal of 125,000 refugee admissions for 2024.

With a $75 million increase from 2023, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program would receive $4.075 billion to assist low-income households with heating or cooling their homes.

Funding was secured in the American Rescue Plan and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to bring broadband services to remote underserved areas, including in the Commonwealth, and $98 million will do just that through the USDA’s ReConnect Program.

Military servicemembers will receive a 5.2 percent pay raise and federal funding will provide $29.6 billion for housing and $8.4 billion for subsistence, including BAH (Basic Allowance for Housing) and BAS (Basic Allowance for Subsistence—food for servicemembers not living in government quarters).

Underserved communities will receive economic support to the tune of $341 million for the U.S. Department of the Treasury Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) Fund.

The Small Business Administration would receive $1.2 billion to help small businesses thrive. Funding will support SBA’s lending programs, which increase access to capital for small businesses, as well as their entrepreneurial development programs, including services that help entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses, such as the Small Business Development Center and Women’s Business Centers networks.

Delays within and customer services issues in the IRS would be addressed with $12.3 billion to enable the IRS to continue to update ancient computer systems, improve customer service and reduce wait times for refunds and other services.

American’s miners would be supported with $12.19 million for Black Lung Clinics. In July, Warner and Kaine reintroduced the Relief for Survivors of Miners Act, which would ease restrictions to make it easier for miners’ survivors to successfully claim benefits. In June, they also urged the Biden Administration to issue new silica standards to protect miners across America – a push that helped contribute toward the release of the standards.

Restoration of the Chesapeake Bay would be possible with $93 million for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Chesapeake Bay Program, the primary federal program that coordinates Chesapeake Bay restoration and protection efforts throughout the Bay watershed.

American ports would be strengthened with $1.2 billion for the Maritime Administration (MARAD), including $213 million for the Port Infrastructure Development Program (PIDP), which supports the buildout and modernization of our nation’s ports including the Port of Virginia.

Scientific discovery would be advanced with $8.43 billion, $330 million more than in 2023, for the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Science, which sponsors basic research in the physical sciences and supports 22,000 researchers at 17 national laboratories across the country, including Jefferson Lab in Newport News, Virginia.

Courts would be protected with $11.4 million to improve security of the Walter E. Hoffman Courthouse in Norfolk, Virginia. Kaine visited the courthouse in 2020 to observe the serious security vulnerabilities firsthand and the Senators have been fighting to enhance its security ever since. They last wrote to the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) in January 2023 to push for the long-delayed security measures.

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca Barnabi

Rebecca J. Barnabi is the national editor of Augusta Free Press. A graduate of the University of Mary Washington, she began her journalism career at The Fredericksburg Free-Lance Star. In 2013, she was awarded first place for feature writing in the Maryland, Delaware, District of Columbia Awards Program, and was honored by the Virginia School Boards Association’s 2019 Media Honor Roll Program for her coverage of Waynesboro Schools. Her background in newspapers includes writing about features, local government, education and the arts.