05.01.17

Vermont Highlights In The Budget Agreement Negotiated By Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman Leahy And Other Appropriations Leaders

Senate and House Appropriations Committee leaders on Sunday night completed lengthy and intense negotiations on a budget bill to fund the government through the rest of this fiscal year (through Sept. 30).  This is the first budget agreement negotiated under Leahy’s new role as Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. 

The budget agreement – expected to reach the House and Senate floors this week for approval – would avert a government shutdown when the current stop-gap government funding bill expires on Friday.  If enacted, it will be the most significant legislation to be enacted so far this year in the new Congress and under the new Trump Administration.

The budget agreement rejects several demands from President Trump, including his insistence on using taxpayer funds for building a wall on the Southern Border, and deep cuts of about one-third in such agencies as the Environmental Protection Agency, and steep reductions as well in the National Institutes of Health (NIH), in order to pay for the border wall.  Other cuts sought by President Trump would have eliminated EPA funding for Lake Champlain cleanup efforts.  Leahy prevailed in his efforts to restore funding to NIH and EPA and other agencies, and to remove border wall funding from the budget.  Leahy’s work also helped remove more than 160 ‘poison pill’ riders from the budget package (many of them targeted at environmental and climate change efforts and goals).

Quote from Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), vice chairman, Senate Appropriations Committee:

“I am glad that we were able to reach a bipartisan agreement to keep the government of the American people open for business and avoid the devastating consequences of a government shutdown.  I am especially glad this agreement does not include a single penny for the construction of a misguided wall along our southern border.  A wall the president promised Mexico would pay for, and a wall that would be nothing more than a bumper sticker monstrosity.   

“This bipartisan agreement eliminates more than 160 poison pill riders that would have been devastating to the environment, put restrictions on women’s health and consumer financial protections, and attacked the Affordable Care Act.  Such riders have no place in a must-pass spending bill.  Appropriations bills are where we set priorities and where those priorities become reality.  This is a good budget agreement for Vermont and for the nation.”   

BELOW is a Summary Of Vermont Highlights in the budget agreement –

(Office of Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy)

Summary Of Vermont Highlights

In The Budget Agreement

(CONSOLIDATED APPROPRIATIONS BILL FOR FISCAL YEAR 2017)

AGRICULTURE:

  • Bill language for Rural Economic Area Partnership (REAP) Zones. REAP Zones (Vermont is one of only a handful of states with REAP Zones…Vermont’s is in the NEK; Leahy authored Vermont’s REAP Zone charter several years ago through his work on the Agriculture Committee) are a program that helps promote revitalization and community development in rural regions hit hardest by outmigration. The bill language helps REAP Zone communities leverage economic development opportunities to create jobs and support existing and new rural businesses. Leahy again fought to include this.
  • $54 million for the Tree and Wood Pests Program to prevent the spread of invasive species in our forests. Of particular concern to Vermont is the Asian long-horned beetle, which is highly destructive and attacks a variety of native hardwood species, including maple, birch, elm, poplar, horse chestnut, and willow trees.
  • $24 million for Rural Business Development Grants, which invest directly in rural communities to help residents start or expand businesses. These grants are used for job training, business development, technical assistance and strategic community development.

COMMERCE, JUSTICE, SCIENCE:

  • $10 million for COPS Anti-Heroin Task Forces – fully funded in the conference agreement. The conference also includes a total of $160.5 million to fight heroin and treat opioid addiction.
  • $22.5 million for the Leahy Bulletproof Vest Partnership.
  • $481.5 million for Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) grants, including $30 million for transitional housing and $35 million for rural domestic violence grants. Leahy is the author of the 2013 legislation that strengthened and reauthorized VAWA.
  • $63 million for the National Sea Grant Program. Sea Grants help NOAA partner with the University of Vermont for research and management of fisheries, water quality, invasive species control and other efforts for Lake Champlain and its surrounding watershed. Through Leahy’s efforts, Lake Champlain is now included in this program.

DEFENSE/NATIONAL GUARD:

  • $30 million for STARBASE so the National Guard can continue to run the popular STEM engagement programs for children. Leahy also is the co-chair of the Senate National Guard Caucus.
  • Funding the Tech Transition Program at just over $385 million, which includes money to build more fuel-efficient next generation engines to make first military flight and then all aircraft cheaper to fly and less harmful to the environment.
  • $20 million increase for the Beyond Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program to help members of the National Guard coming home from deployments.

ENERGY AND WATER:

  • Northern Border Regional Commission: $10 million, a $2.5 million increase over FY 2016 levels in economic development assistance to counties (in Vermont and other States) along the Northern Border. 
  • Weatherization Assistance Program: $228 million, $13 million increase over FY 2016 levels in assistance to low-income homeowners to weatherize their homes and reduce annual energy costs.
  • Army Corps’ Aquatic Plant Control Program: $4 million is provided for nationwide research and development to address invasive aquatic plants.
  • Environmental Infrastructure: $55 million is included for Environmental Infrastructure in the Army Corps’ Construction account, which is flat with the FY16 enacted level.

FINANCIAL SERVICES:

  • $125 million for Small Business Development Centers
  • $248 million for the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund
  • $254 million for High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) Program
  • Report language on IRS Tax Assistance Centers in rural areas (rural service delivery issues)

INTERIOR and EPA:

  • Sustained funding at $4.399 million for the Lake Champlain Basin protection and restoration program, equal to FY2016 level. These funds address water quality challenges in Lake Champlain, particularly in managing phosphorous runoff. Leahy has long been the leader and Appropriations Committee champion for this program.
  • Protected funding for EPA’s State Revolving Funds – $1.4 billion for Clean Water and $863 million for Drinking Water (both same as FY2016). Provides critical technical assistance, training, and source protection planning services to ensure that rural water systems have the resources needed to keep up with and meet the requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act and Clean Water Act.
  • Wild & Scenic Rivers – Supports budget request, which includes $439,000 increase for Missisquoi and other wild and scenic rivers.
  • Heritage Partnership Program – funded at FY 2016 enacted level of $19.8 million, with report language directing areas to come up with a more equitable formula to distribute funds that will help the Champlain Valley National Heritage Partnership.
  • Countering White-Nose Syndrome in Bats is funded at $2.5 million in the Fish & Wildlife Service, with $250,000 more for WNS through an increase in U.S. Geological Survey work on this crisis.
  • $80.9 million for Historic Preservation Fund, a 23 percent increase above FY 2016, including:
    • $1 million increase for State Historic Preservation Offices, for a total of $48 million; and
    • $5 million to restore the Save America’s Treasures Program.

Labor-HHS:

  • Funds NIH’s IDeA program at $333 million.  IDeA helps foster health-related research in states in which the aggregate success rate for applications to NIH has historically been low. In FY 2016, VT was awarded $50 million in NIH grants, of which $45 million went to UVM.
  • In a key win for Vermont, the budget agreement protects funding for LIHEAP, Family Planning, and Area Health Education Centers, providing amounts equal to the FY 2016 funding levels.
  • The agreement includes $950, an increase of $50 million, for TRIO programs.  In the current year, more than $4 million is supporting college access and preparation for low income students at 11 TRIO programs across Vermont. 

STATE AND FOREIGN OPS:

  • Lake Champlain: $3.45 million for sea lamprey control in Lake Champlain, which is equal to the FY16 level.
  • $410 million for the Peace Corps. Vermont has had the highest number of Peace Corps volunteers per capita for four consecutive years.
  • $240 million for the Fulbright Program, a $4 million increase above the FY16 level.

TRANSPORTATION-HUD:

  • $500 million for TIGER Grants
  • $3 billion for the Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) program. Vermont and the City of Burlington should receive roughly $7.1 million this year.
  • $719.96 million for FTA Bus and Bus Facilities formula grants.
  • $25 million for Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair Program. State-supported Amtrak service in Vermont will be eligible for capital grants.
  • $950 million for HOME, which helps States and local governments increase housing affordability through the building, buying, or rehabilitating of affordable housing that is then made available for rent or homeownership. Vermont will receive an estimated $3.4 million in FY2017.
  • $140 million for Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation (NeighborWorks).
  • Additionally, Vermont should receive $210.12 million in FHWA highway formula funds and $9.15 million in FTA formula funds.

Press Contact

David Carle: 202-224-3693