Sep 13 2018
WASHINGTON, DC -- Focused on much needed improvements for veterans, national security and infrastructure across the country, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the first federal funding "minibus" package for fiscal year 2019, containing three appropriations bills. U.S. Rep. Harold "Hal" Rogers (KY-05), Chairman Emeritus of the House Appropriations Committee, voted for the package, which includes funding for Energy and Water, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Legislative Branch operations throughout the upcoming fiscal year.
"We are keeping our promise to improve healthcare for our veterans with historic funding for Veterans Affairs and improved management. This legislation also enhances national security and improves our infrastructure and energy programs across the country. We have also maintained a 10% spending cut for Congress and a pay freeze for all Members," said Rogers. "This legislation also protects programs that benefit Kentuckians, from grants that support economic growth in the coalfields, to protecting communities around Lake Cumberland from unnecessary access fees, to additional research for the development of clean coal technology."
The federal funding package totals $147.5 billion and now moves to the White House for approval. This is the first time in more than a decade that Congress has sent more than one appropriations bill to the President's desk before the end of the fiscal year, marking improved legislative efforts in Washington.
"Minibus" Appropriations Package Highlights
Economic Development Programs
- Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) – provides $165 million for the ARC, which includes the most non-highway funding in its history to support economic growth in distressed counties in the Appalachian region, including $10 million to continue an existing program which will increase broadband access. This also includes $50 million for the POWER Initiative to support communities that have been adversely impacted by the declining coal industry, by providing resources for job creation, job training, and other employment services. It also includes $16 million for basic infrastructure improvements in Central Appalachia, targeted towards distressed counties.
- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) – provides $7 billion, $172 million more than fiscal year 2018, for the Corps of Engineers to improve and rebuild the nation’s water resources and infrastructure. This includes $77 million for USACE’s Environmental Infrastructure program, some of which may be directed towards the Section 531 water and wastewater improvement program for Southern and Eastern Kentucky. It also includes $9.8 million for the Corps’ non-structural flood control programs, some of which may be used for projects across Kentucky's Fifth Congressional District.
- Water Reallocation Study at Lake Cumberland – prohibits the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from completing a Water Reallocation Study for Lake Cumberland. This study would result in nearby towns and other users paying more for access to water at the lake.
- Fossil Energy Research – advances an “all of the above” energy strategy by investing in fossil energy research. These investments in cutting edge technologies will ensure coal remains a significant part of our energy portfolio—both here at home and abroad. Department of Energy (DOE) Fossil Energy Research programs are funded at $740 million, which is $13 million above FY18 funding levels. The DOE Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) and Power Systems Program is funded at $488 million, with $54 million set aside for the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) to focus on coal, natural gas and oil technologies.
- Overall VA Funding - provides $98.1 billion for the VA, the largest dollar amount in history for the VA. It funds VA medical care at $72.3 billion, providing care for more than 7 million veteran and dependent patients.
The bill includes $1.1 billion for the new VA electronic health record, ensuring our veterans receive proper care, with timely and accurate medical data transferred between identical systems at the VA and the Department of Defense.
The bill seeks to further reduce the disability claims backlog to ensure adequate compensation and care for the almost 450,000 veterans still awaiting final decisions on their claims.
- VA Medical priorities - provides funding for the VA’s medical priorities, including $400 million for opioid abuse prevention, $8.6 billion for mental health care, $206 million for suicide prevention outreach, $589 million for traumatic brain injury treatment, $7.5 billion for homeless veterans treatment, services, housing, and job training, and $270 million for rural health initiatives, ensuring veterans in rural America, and Kentucky, can receive the care they earned.
For more detailed information on each of these bills, please visit: https://appropriations.house.gov/legislation/