Warner, Kaine trumpet wins for Virginia in budget bill

 U.S. Sens. Mark Warner Tim Kaine applauded passage of the Fiscal Year 2014 Omnibus Appropriations bill, which provides discretionary funding for the federal government through the end of the fiscal year.

congress“It is good to see Congress return to an orderly process,” Sen. Warner said. “This two-year agreement should help Virginia families, employers and community leaders move forward with more predictability and confidence. While I’m pleased that, at least in the near term, we will not be lurching from crisis to crisis, we still need to have an adult conversation about our nation’s spending and debt.”

“With passage of this appropriations bill, I’m so pleased that a majority of my colleagues agree that a return to normal budget order is far better for our country than shutdown politics and crisis-budgeting,” said Senator Kaine. “This bill offsets the worst effects of sequestration while funding so many critical priorities for Virginia communities. I will also continue to pursue every path – both legislatively, as well as through my role on the Armed Services Committee – to reverse the provision in the budget agreement that makes a reduction to the cost of living increase (COLA) for certain military retirees.”

The following list includes many of the provisions Warner and Kaine advocated for on behalf of Virginia that were included in the Appropriations bill:

Defense: Includes $486.9 billion in defense spending to fund priorities including ship repair, aircraft carrier maintenance, Virginia class submarine fleet construction, military construction, and programs that provide support for our troops and their families. The legislation exempts medically retired personnel from the 1% reduction in cost-of-living adjustments (COLA) included in the Bipartisan Budget Act, which Warner and Kaine continue to work to replace. A comprehensive list of defense provisions in the bill that benefit Virginia can be found here.

Early Childhood Education: Includes a $1.025 billion increase for Head Start, which will support comprehensive early childhood services for approximately 90,000 additional children and their families and restore cuts from sequestration. It also includes $500 million in funding to expand Early Head Start for children and families from before birth through age three, including the establishment of new Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships. The bill allows $250 million to be used for grants to help states develop, enhance or expand high quality preschool programs for children ages 4 and over and from low and moderate income families.

Career and Technical Education: Funds career and technical education state grants at $1.12 billion, a $53 million increase from FY13.

Pell Grants: Maintains funding for the Pell Grant program. Combined with mandatory funding, the total maximum award is estimated to rise by $85 to $5,730 and the number of recipients is estimated to increase by 186,000.

Funds American Battlefield Protection Program: Restores $9 million in funding to the American Battlefield Protection Program. In May, Kaine introduced the American Battlefield Protection Program Amendments Act to reauthorize this critical program for five years. In November, Warner and Kaine introduced the Petersburg National Battlefield Boundary Modification Act to expand Petersburg National Battlefield.

Clean Coal:  Funds Fossil Energy Research and Development at $562 million, supporting clean coal projects. 

Food and Nutrition Programs: Fully funds the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), which provides food and nutrition education to low-income mothers-to-be, new mothers, and infants and children up to age five who are at nutritional risk.

FBI Central Records Complex in Winchester: Appropriates $97.8 million for new construction of the FBI Central Records Complex in Winchester.

Benefits Radford Army Arsenal: The bill supports the ongoing efforts of the Department of the Army to develop the Army Organic Industrial Base Strategy and adds $150,000,000 to the Army Defense Working Capital Fund for the Industrial Mobilization Capacity Account to improve capacity, cost efficiency and technical competence in peacetime, while preserving the ability to provide an effective and timely response to mobilizations, national defense contingency situations, and other emergent requirements.

Heating Assistance: Increases funding for the the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) by $130 million.

National Park Service: Restores $28 million in funding to the national park service.

Energy and Water: Funds an $800,000 study for deepening Norfolk Harbor and channels, the next step toward dredging the Port of Virginia to the needed post-Panamax depths. The bill includes $110 million in funding for Small Modular Reactors, an innovative new nuclear energy technology being designed by Babcock and Wilcox and supporting 200 jobs in Lynchburg.

Conservation: maintains $826 million in funding for USDA’s Natural Resource Conservation Service which helps farmers, ranchers, and private forest landowners conserve and protect their land.

Metro Capital Funding:  Includes $150 Million for WMATA to make critical safety repairs and replace out-of-date track and equipment.  This marks the fifth installment of a 10 year, $1.5 billion plan to help rebuild Metro’s infrastructure.

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