Warner, Kaine on passage of omnibus spending bill
“While the process that got us here was imperfect, this bill will keep the government open through the end of September, and fund several priorities important to Virginia and the nation. It includes $380 million to help states protect their elections systems against foreign intrusion in the 2018 midterm elections,” said Sen. Mark Warner. “It also includes critical funding to protect Virginia children and families from falling victim to the epidemics of gun violence and opioid addiction. In addition, this bill fulfills the full $150 million federal commitment to Metro, invests in shipbuilding, supports military families and federal workers by providing much-needed pay raises, and sets aside additional funds to assist the six newly-recognized Virginia tribes. While the bill fulfills many top priorities for our country, it fails to reach a compromise for DREAMers, who have been waiting anxiously for Congress to act. It is my hope that the Administration can work in good-faith with Congress to ensure a permanent solution on DACA.”
“This bill delivers a long list of wins for Virginia – it will help rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, spur economic growth, combat the opioid epidemic, support shipbuilding and ship repair, boost defense funding, allow us to continue to protect the Chesapeake Bay, deliver affordable child care, increase accessibility to cyber scholarships, expand access to higher education, and more,” said Sen. Tim Kaine. “I’m thrilled that this deal included passage of my bill to ensure teachers, social workers, military servicemembers, and other public servants get the student loan relief they’ve been promised. And I’m proud that our advocacy helped secure increased funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities. It’s a bipartisan compromise, and like any real compromise this bill isn’t perfect. While I’m heartened that we finally took a step to improve the background record check system, this bill fails to make them universal or make the other reforms we need to reduce gun violence. And it’s inexcusable that Republicans in Congress and President Trump still haven’t agreed to permanent protections for Dreamers who are stuck in limbo in the only country they know as home.”
The following list includes many of the provisions Warner and Kaine advocated for on behalf of Virginia that were included in the omnibus bill:
2018 Election Security: The bill provides an additional $307 million for the FBI’s work to secure the 2018 U.S. midterm elections and fight against future Russian cyberattacks.The bill also provides $380 million for the Election Assistance Commission to increase cybersecurity for state voting systems and protect elections against foreign interference.
Appalachian Regional Commission: $155 million is included for the Appalachia Regional Commission, an increase of $3 million from FY17.
Chesapeake Bay Program: The bill provides $73 million in funding for the Chesapeake Bay Program. In addition, the bill would extend authorization for the Chesapeake Bay Initiative until 2019 and allocates over $2 million for the Chesapeake Gateways and Watertrails Network.
Children’s Health: The bill provides $12.6 million for the Gabriella Miller Kids First program to conduct pediatric cancer research. Sens. Warner and Kaine worked to enact the legislation authorizing this program, named for 10-year-old Gabriella Miller of Loudoun County who passed away from cancer in October of 2013.
Cybersecurity: The bill provides $722.9 million for Department of Homeland Security cybersecurity efforts, which includes $243.9 million for cyber readiness and response (NCCIC), $46.2 million for cyber infrastructure resilience, and $432.6 million for federal cybersecurity.
Education: This bill will add $1.1 billion for the Title IV/Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant to support school counseling and mental health services, technology investments and STEM education. In addition, $75 million will be allocated for the Perkins Career and Technical Education Program to help develop our 21st century workforce.
HBCU Funding: After several years of stagnant funding, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) will receive $279.6 million in critical funding. This bill help Hampton University, Norfolk State University, Virginia Union University, Virginia State University, and Virginia University of Lynchburg improve their campus, strengthen financial management, academic resources and endowment-building capacity.
Federal Workers: This bill provides federal workers with a 1.9 percent pay raise.
Gun Safety: The Fix NICS (National Instant Criminal Background System) Act is included in the bill to increase the amount of data agencies send into the current national gun background system.
Metro and Transportation: The bill maintains the full $150 million federal commitment to Metro to help repair and maintain the Metrorail system. Additionally, the bill provides $1.5 billion for TIGER grants, a competitive grant program that is spearheaded by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Earlier this month, Loudoun County was awarded a $25 million TIGER grant from a previous round of funding to construct a vital portion of highway.
Military Construction: The bill fully funds 15 military construction projects in Virginia: Ft. Belvoir, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Joint Base Myer-Henderson, Dam Neck, two sites at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, two sites at Naval Station Norfolk, two sites at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, NWS Yorktown, three sites at the Pentagon, and Fort Pickett.
Military Pay Raise: The bill fully funds a 2.4 percent pay raise for troops.
Mining: The bill provides $10 million for the Abandoned Mine Grant to Virginia.
NASA Science: The bill provides $685 million for the NASA Aeronautics mission that will help maintain program funding for the NASA Langley Research Center in Hampton. This is an increase of $25 million above the FY17 funding level. In addition, the bill provides an additional $15 million in investment at Wallops Island on Virginia’s Eastern Shore to improve space launch infrastructure there. The Wallops Flight Facility is one of two launch complexes in the country that provides service to the International Space Station.
Opioid Epidemic: The bill includes a total of $3.3 billion in increased funding to combat the opioid crisis, including an increase of $2.8 billion in treatment, prevention and research for programs under Health and Human Services (HHS) to help communities across Virginia and the nation fight against the opioid epidemic.
Protecting Tribes: The bill allocates $1.12 million to support six newly federally recognized tribes in Virginia: the Chickahominy, the Eastern Chickahominy, the Upper Mattaponi, the Rappahannock, the Monacan, and the Nansemond. Legislation led by Sens. Warner and Kaine recently passed into law to provide the first-ever federal recognition of these Virginia tribes.
School Safety: The omnibus would enact the STOP School Violence Act, authorizing $75 million to increase grants for security training of local law enforcement officers, school personnel, and students to improve school safety. In addition, the bill allocates $22 million for the Education Department to help improve classroom environments to prevent violence, and provide services in response to serious incidents, and an additional $25 million to HHS programs that provide mental health resources to support students.
Seafood Industry and H-2B Visas: By giving the Department of Homeland Security the authority to raise the cap for H-2B visas, this bill will provide necessary relief for Virginia’s seafood industry to acquire seasonal workers to meet their local and national demands. Currently, businesses are subject to annual caps on the number of H-2B visas issued to seasonal workers.
Shipbuilding and Repair: The bill provides $23.8 billion to procure one carrier replacement and two Virginia-class submarines. The bill also urges the Secretary of the Navy to adequately prioritize public shipyard infrastructure.
Public Student Loan Forgiveness: Includes Sen. Kaine’s bill to fix a glitch in a bipartisan federal loan forgiveness program that was leaving Virginia teachers, social workers, military servicemembers, and other public servants with massive loan balances they thought would be forgiven.
Telecommunications: The bill includes $600 million for a new pilot program within the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to expand rural broadband service.
Veterans: The bill fully funds homeless prevention programs at the Department of Veterans Affairs, including Grant and Per Diem and HUD/VASH, and provides $20 million above the President’s budget request for the Supportive Services for Veterans and Families Program, bringing the total for this program to $340 million. The bill also fully funds the VA’s budget request for information technology systems, including the next generation of the electronic health record and the Veterans benefits management system. The bill also includes an increase of $2 billion that will go towards veterans’ hospital maintenance and backlogged construction projects.