WASHINGTON, DC -- U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers (KY-05) voted for a comprehensive federal funding package, which includes a bipartisan agreement on border security and will keep the government fully operational through the remainder of fiscal year 2019. The legislation provides $22.54 billion for border security, including $1.375 billion for 55 new miles of physical barriers along the southwest border, as well as additional measures to enforce current immigration laws.
The remaining seven federal funding bills in the package include critical programs to boost economic development across Southern and Eastern Kentucky, enhance rural infrastructure, support the coal industry, combat the drug abuse epidemic, improve school safety and protect the sanctity of human life.
The comprehensive deal specifically provides a fourth round of funding for the Abandoned Mine Lands (AML) Pilot Grant Program, championed by Congressman Rogers and Senator Mitch McConnell since 2016, to fast-track reclamation and economic development projects in the heart of coal country where the economy was decimated by the Obama Administration's War on Coal. This legislation provides another $25 million for Kentucky alone, in addition to the previous $80 million that has been secured for AML Pilot projects.
"While the challenges at our border have rightly grabbed headlines, the bill also funds a number of other important federal agencies through the end of the fiscal year. Importantly, it ensures that our dedicated public servants can continue to show up to work without fear of losing another paycheck. In my Kentucky district, for example, hundreds of federal prison employees showed up to a dangerous, difficult, often thankless job, for over a month, not knowing when their next check would come. I thank them and am pleased to support this bill that will continue to support the Bureau of Prisons," said Congressman Rogers during a speech on the House floor in support of the legislation. "Also, for Kentucky, this bill continues our momentum in combatting the opioid epidemic by fully supporting community prevention efforts, law enforcement programs to seize illicit and diverted drugs, and drug courts to get people into treatment. This bill also provides $115 million for the AML Pilot Program, which helps create economic development in Appalachian coal communities in six states."
The U.S. Senate passed this legislation by a vote of 83-16 and it was approved in the House by 300-128. President Trump is expected to sign it into law, in addition to declaring a national emergency to direct additional resources towards the security crisis at our southern border.
Economic Development Programs
Reclamation of Abandoned Mine Lands – in addition to full support for the annual state AML grant program, an additional $115 million is provided for the continuation of a pilot program successfully implemented in Fiscal Year 2016. This program targets opportunities for reclamation and job creation in struggling coal communities in Appalachia. Kentucky will receive an additional $25 million in grants for reclamation and economic development.
Economic Development Administration (EDA) – allocates $304 million for the EDA, an increase of $2.5 million from FY18. $30 million is specifically carved out for EDA’s Assistance to Coal Mining Communities Program, which supports locally-driven efforts to generate job creation, capital investment, workforce development and re-employment opportunities in coal country. Additionally, this legislation encourages the EDA to use these funds to support broadband infrastructure projects and to prioritize these projects in under and unserved areas.
Federal Prison System – includes $7.25 billion for Federal Prison System Salaries and Expenses, an increase of $150 million from the FY18 enacted level, to support federal employees at the four federal prisons in our region. It also includes language expressing concern regarding the overcrowded prison populations, and directing the Bureau of Prisons to hire more full-time correctional staff before utilizing the dangerous practice of augmentation.
Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) – provides $250 million to promote economic revitalization in low-income communities, level with the FY18 enacted amount. Kentucky-based organizations like Kentucky Highlands Investment Corporation and Community Ventures use these funds to help individuals buy homes, start and grow small businesses, as well as fund projects that improve our local communities. The bill also includes funds to offer training to CDFIs serving distressed regions to increase their expertise and capacity to undertake community development finance activities.
SBA HubZone Program – includes $3 million to help small businesses in rural communities gain preferential access to federal procurement opportunities, level with the FY18 enacted amount.
National Parks – provides $3.22 billion for the National Park Service, including much-needed funding for park maintenance. These funds will support projects at Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, Cumberland Gap National Historic Park and Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky.
Battlefield Protection – provides $10 million for the American Battlefield Protection Program, which promotes the preservation of significant historic battlefields associated with wars on American soil.
Clean Water and Drinking Water – provides $1.7 billion to the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and $1.2 billion for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, which support local drinking water and sewer construction projects. These funding levels represent a $600 million increase from the President’s budget request. It also includes $68 million for Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act grants, $5 million more than FY18. Finally, the bill allocates nearly $2 billion from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in loans and grants for rural water and waste projects, including funding to help communities of 3,300 or less plan, improve, or manage their water systems.
Rural Housing Programs – $25.345 billion is included for the USDA Rural Housing Service, including $25 billion in direct and unsubsidized Section 502 Loans and $28 million for the Housing Repair program. Within HUD, $54 million is provided for the Self-Help and Assisted Homeownership Program. $1.3 billion is also included for the HOME Investment Partnerships Program to help state and local governments provide affordable housing options to low-income residents.
USDA Infrastructure Programs – provides over $2.8 billion for Rural Community Facilities loans and grants, which support the construction of healthcare facilities, town halls, child care centers, police offices, libraries, food pantries and other essential communal infrastructure. The bill also provides $5.5 billion in loans to finance power generation, transmission, and distribution systems and $690 million for telecommunications infrastructure in rural areas. Additionally, there is $550 million in new USDA funding to provide access to high-speed internet services throughout rural America, with preference to areas currently underserved.
Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) – includes $3.4 billion for grants that provide critical infrastructure funding to states and local communities to address economic development and housing needs.
Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) Transportation Discretionary Grants – includes $900 million for BUILD grants, with 50% specifically allocated for projects in rural communities. This program was recently used in the Fifth District to help create a cloverleaf intersection at Ky. 80 and Ky. 461.