SUMMARY: CONSOLIDATED APPROPRIATIONS ACT OF 2016
SUMMARY: CONSOLIDATED APPROPRIATIONS ACT OF 2016
WASHINGTON, D.C.— Today, U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), Vice Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee released a summary of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016, the fiscal year 2016 omnibus appropriations bill that totals $1.15 trillion in discretionary spending in compliance with the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. The bill funds the government through September 30, 2016.
The bill includes: $1,067 billion in base funding; $73.7 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations; $7.1 billion of disaster aid; $1.5 billion for program integrity; and $700 million in emergency funding.
AGRICULTURE, RURAL DEVELOPMENT, FOOD AND DRUG ADMINISTRATION, AND RELATED AGENCIES
The fiscal year 2016 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies bill provides a total of $21.75 billion, including $250 million for the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), which is under the jurisdiction of the Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee. Excluding CFTC funding, the bill provides $21.5 billion, which is $925 million more than the fiscal year 2015 level, $158 million less than the President’s request level, and $990 million more than the Senate Committee mark. The bill also includes $130 million in disaster funding. Increases were made possible by enactment of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015.
The Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies bill invests in a wide range of critical programs that affect the lives of every man, woman and child in the United States, including their public health and safety. Through nutrition programs, such as the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), the bill helps assist the young and most vulnerable populations. Increased funding for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will ensure our food and drug supply remains the safest and most reliable in the world.
The bill makes substantial investments in improving job opportunities and the quality of life in rural America. Almost $25 billion in single family housing loans are made available, providing homeownership opportunities for more than 170,000 rural households. More than $2.2 billion is provided for essential community facilities, including schools, hospitals, health clinics, day and elder care facilities, libraries and more. In addition, the agreement provides $1.7 billion in loans and grants for clean drinking water and sanitary waste disposal systems, which will benefit approximately 900 small, remote rural communities.
The bill further provides funding for critical programs such as PL 480 Title II and the McGovern-Dole Food for Education Program, which will help feed millions of people around the world.
Key Points & Highlights
Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
The bill provides $2.721 billion for the Food and Drug Administration. This is $133 million more than the fiscal year 2015 level and $92 million more than the Senate Committee mark, an amount made available because of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. The FDA regulates products worth over 20 cents of every dollar spent by American consumers, so these funds are vital to making sure our food and drugs are safe.
Within FDA, the bill fully funds the budget request for implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act, which is the most sweeping food safety reform in 70 years. This funding is necessary to train state and local officials, FDA employees and industry to ensure that food coming in from other countries meets U.S. standards.
The bill provides the following additional increases above the fiscal year 2015 levels: $5 million for drug safety, $8.7 million for the Combating Antibiotic Resistant Bacteria Initiative, $2.5 million for orphan product development, $2.4 million for the Precision Medicine Initiative, $5 million for foreign high risk inspections and $716,000 for sunscreen safety.
The bill provides $6.35 billion for WIC, which is $273 million less than fiscal year 2015. Based on the latest estimates, this amount will fully fund participation. WIC helps improve the health and nutritional intake of low-income pregnant, breastfeeding and postpartum women as well as infants and children up to their fifth birthday. The bill provides $60 million for breastfeeding support and $220 million for the WIC Electronic Benefit Transfer initiative. This will allow states to transition from paper vouchers to electronic cards.
The bill provides $30 million for school meal equipment grants. These equipment purchases are long-term investments that help schools serve healthier meals, improve food safety and expand access to nutrition programs. The grants will help replace outdated equipment with new, energy efficient appliances such as refrigerators, ovens and other food service related equipment.
The bill provides $222 million for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, an increase of $11 million from fiscal year 2015 and fully funds participation. These funds will assist thousands of low-income seniors by providing nutritious supplemental food. The bill also provides $54 million for The Emergency Food Assistance Program to assist low-income Americans with food provided through food banks, pantries and soup kitchens.
The bill provides $23 million to continue Summer Electronic Benefit Demonstration Grants, which provide the families of low-income children with benefits similar to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and WIC in an effort to provide alternative access to food during the summer months, when school is not in session.
International Food Aid
The bill provides total funding of $1.716 billion for PL 480 Title II, which is $250 million more than the fiscal year 2015 level, an amount made available because of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. These funds are intended to respond to ongoing food assistance requirements as a result of growing conflicts throughout the world. This program assists millions of vulnerable people throughout the world by providing food assistance, boosting the resilience of disaster-affected communities and supporting the transition from relief to recovery.
The bill provides $201.6 million for the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education program. Included in this amount is $5 million for local and regional procurement to build long-term agriculture sustainability and establish local investment in school feeding programs.
The bill provides $1.39 billion for Rural Development rental assistance, which is $301 million more than the fiscal year 2015 level. This increase reflects the growth in expiring agreements that will need to be renewed in fiscal year 2016. Without this funding, many low and very low income rural households, generally occupied by elderly, disabled, or female-headed families would face rent increases they could not afford. Almost 300,000 households will receive assistance this fiscal year. The bill also removes a provision that previously blocked renewing agreements in less than 12 months if the needed funding had been underestimated.
The bill increases community facilities grants to $25 million, which is $12 million above the fiscal year 2015 level. These grants can be used by low income, remote rural communities for any essential community facility, including health and safety vehicles, equipment and supplies; child and elderly day care facilities; schools and libraries; health clinics; and related facilities and services.
The bill provides $37 million for multi-family housing revitalization and preservation, which is $13 million more than the fiscal year 2015 level. Housing vouchers received $15 million, an increase of $8 million, while the preservation program received $22 million, an increase of $5 million. This funding will jointly address the issues of the deteriorating physical condition of the multi-family housing stock, and the looming problem of maturing mortgages. Almost 4,000 low and very low income rural households will be assisted by these vouchers.
The bill provides $522 million for water and waste disposal loans and grants. This is $57.5 million more than the fiscal year 2015 level. Water and waste grants are increased by $26.2 million, which will help the most remote, lowest income rural communities to obtain clean drinking water and sanitary waste disposal.
The bill provides total funding of $2.937 billion for agriculture research, which is $211 million more than the fiscal year 2015 level and $252 million more than the Senate Committee mark. Every one dollar invested in agricultural research yields a return of $20 to the economy.
The bill includes the full budget request to repair and renovate aging Agriculture Research Service laboratories, which are imperative to conducting state of the art agricultural research.
Additionally, at the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the bill includes $350 million for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, USDA’s premiere competitive research program. This amount is $25 million more than the fiscal year 2015 and Senate Committee mark levels. The bill also includes an increase of $2 million to the fiscal year 2015 and Senate Committee mark levels for the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program.
Conservation and Disaster Programs
The bill includes $271 million for three emergency programs, all of which are provided as a result of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015.
This includes $157 million for the Emergency Watershed Protection Program (EWP), of which $37 million is disaster funding. This program helps to conserve natural resources by relieving imminent hazards to life and property caused by floods, fires, windstorms and other natural disasters. The Emergency Conservation Program (ECP) is provided $108 million, of which $91 million is disaster funding. ECP helps farmers and ranchers repair damage to farmlands caused by natural disasters and help put in place methods for water conservation during severe drought. Finally, $6 million, of which $2 million is disaster funding, is provided for the Emergency Forestry Restoration Program, which helps the owners of non-industrial private forests restore forest health damaged by natural disasters.
The agreement does not include a House provision that would have made it easier for thousands of new tobacco products, many of which are marketed to children, to come to the market without any review by the Food and Drug Administration.
The agreement includes a Senate provision that effectively prohibits horse slaughter in the U.S. during fiscal year 2016. The agreement blocks funding for USDA inspectors to preside over domestic slaughter facilities in which horses are slaughtered. As a result, horses will not be slaughtered for human consumption, either domestically or for export.
The agreement includes language that repeals parts of the Country of Origin Labeling Law that were recently ruled discriminatory by the World Trade Organization, preventing more than $1 billion in retaliatory tariffs to the U.S. economy.
COMMERCE, JUSTICE, SCIENCE, AND RELATED AGENCIES
The U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) bill totals $55.7 billion in proposed discretionary budget authority, which is more than $5.6 billion above the fiscal year 2015 level, $3.7 million more than the President’s request and $4.7 billion more than the Senate Committee mark for fiscal year 2016. This increase was made possible by enactment of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015.
The CJS bill invests in a wide range of critical programs that affect the lives of all Americans. The bill provides $29 billion for the Department of Justice (DOJ) to keep America safe from criminals and terrorists. Funding also allows DOJ to provide grants and assistance to state and local law enforcement that help put police officers on the beat, equip them with bulletproof vests, test backlogged DNA evidence, protect schools and college campuses, and assist victims of violent crime and sexual assault.
The bill makes investments in public safety, economic growth, innovation, job creation and trade promotion. The Department of Commerce receives $9.2 billion to warn Americans about severe weather, promote American businesses and exports, create cybersecurity standards to protect dot-mil, dot-gov and dot-com, protect American ideas, foster economic development, and enable sustainable development of ocean resources.
Science agencies supported by the bill include the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). These agencies fund research that not only wins Nobel prizes, but also makes our lives better – from finding ways to give Americans more time between the warning and when the severe weather hits, to coming up with the next technological breakthroughs that will lead to entirely new industries. Innovation leads to economic growth and prosperity as discoveries turn into new products and new technologies that create jobs.
Key Points & Highlights
- Fighting Terrorism and Violent Extremism. The bill has $3.7 billion to help keep our nation safe, prevent radicalization in our communities and support our first responders and federal agents ensuring that if terror strikes, measures are in place to protect and save lives. One of the biggest agencies in our fight to prevent terrorism within the CJS bill is the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The FBI’s counterterrorism and counterintelligence operations are funded at $3.4 billion to uncover, investigate and disrupt current and future threats to our national security. The National Security Division (NSD), housed in the Justice Department, is funded at $95 million to coordinate efforts between federal prosecutors, law enforcement and the Intelligence Community to combat terrorism. Other Justice Department agencies are funded as follows: the U.S. Attorneys Office at $51 million to prosecute terrorism cases; the Bureau of Prisons at $18 million to stop extremism and radicalization in federal prisons; the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) at $98 million to fight terrorism with a drug trafficking nexus; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) at $15 million to disrupt and prevent the use of firearms and explosives in terrorist acts; and U.S. Marshals Service at $13 million to handle threat investigations. The National Institute of Justice is provided $4 million to provide community leaders with evidence-based practices for bolstering resilience and developing responses to prevent and mitigate threats posed by violent extremists.
- Gun Violence. This bill fights gun violence with $1.1 billion in resources to help keep our homes, schools and neighborhoods safe. The bill provides $114 million to the FBI to run instant background checks so legal buyers can exercise their Second Amendment rights while keeping guns out of the hands of known criminals. It will give ATF $840 million, an increase of $42 million from fiscal year 2015, for criminal enforcement, investigations, and inspections tools to enforce gun laws, trace firearms found at crime scenes, and keep illegal guns away from traffickers and criminals. The bill also provides $73 million for all states to improve the quality of criminal and mental health records so interstate background checks are more effective, and $15 million to train local police how to respond to active shooter situations so police and bystanders can get safely out of the way when the unthinkable happens. The grant program for comprehensive school safety is funded at $75 million, which will allow communities to conduct school safety assessments and fill gaps in school safety plans. This bill does not contain any of the harmful new gun policy riders offered by the House of Representatives.
- Heroin Crisis. Heroin use continues to ravage communities across the nation as it is often an inexpensive substitute for prescription pills, costing as little as $10 a hit. This bill provides $7 million to fund anti-heroin task forces within the COPS program. Competitive grants will be awarded for drug enforcement, including investigations and activities related to stopping the distribution of heroin or unlawful diversion and distribution of prescription opioids. The bill also provides funding for Justice Department grant programs available to state and local governments for residential drug treatment ($12 million), prescription drug monitoring ($13 million) and drug courts ($42 million).
- Crime Victims. The cap on the Crime Victims Fund is increased to $3.04 billion in the bill, $681 million more than the fiscal year 2015 level, to help victims of violent crime and their families receive critical care and services, provide federal victim witness coordinators, and operate the Federal Victim Notification System. States will be able to increase direct compensation to victims of violent crime, which includes medical care costs, as well as victim assistance grants provided to non-profit organizations for counseling, legal assistance and outreach services to victims.
- Addressing Violence Against Women. The bill contains $480 million, the highest funding level ever, for grants provided by the Office on Violence Against Women. Funding is provided for multiple competitive and formula grant programs that support training for police officers and prosecutors, state domestic violence and sexual assault coalitions, rape prevention programs, lethality assessment and homicide reduction initiatives, domestic violence hotlines, and women’s shelters and transitional housing support services. The bill also provides $45 million for a competitive grant program to support multi-disciplinary community response teams tasked with developing and implementing comprehensive reform regarding sexual assault, including reducing the backlog of rape kits at law enforcement agencies. Once a backlog is acknowledged and kits begin to be tested, communities are still left to grapple with the enormous task of not just finding a way to test all of their backlogged kits, but also investigating and prosecuting these cases, reengaging victims in the process, and addressing any systemic failures that led to the creation of the backlog in the first place.
- Medical Marijuana. This bill again contains language preventing the Justice Department from interfering with states that have medical marijuana laws ensuring that the prescribing and dispensing of medical marijuana in that state is both legal and regulated. Patients and doctors in states that have approved medical marijuana, including Maryland, need to know that they safe from arrest and prosecution by the federal government.
- NASA. This bill provides $19.3 billion for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) which is $1.3 billion more than the fiscal year 2015 enacted level and $756 million more than the President’s requested level. The bill supports key priorities like commercial crew transportation for astronauts to the International Space Station, Earth Science, satellite servicing, NASA’s next missions beyond low-Earth orbit and the James Webb Space Telescope to keep the United States first in astronomy.
- NOAA Ships. The bill provides $80 million to begin building a new Ocean Survey Vessel for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NOAA currently has 16 ships in its aging fleet, but that number will dwindle to eight vessels by 2028. This ship is critical to NOAA’s ability to map the ocean floor, support National Weather Service activities, conduct oceanographic and climate research, and support ecosystem and fisheries management. Investing in the fleet in fiscal year 2016 will reduce the overall cost of the new vessel by allowing NOAA to leverage savings from existing Navy shipbuilding contracts.
- National Institute of Standards and Technology. The bill provides an additional $100 million to the fiscal year 2015 level, for a total of $964 million, for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). NIST research and grant programs develop measurements and standards for private sector innovation, help aspiring start-up companies commercialize new technologies, and provide technical and workforce development support to American manufacturers. The bill provides $25 million for the new National Network of Manufacturing Institutes, which was authorized in the fiscal year 2015 omnibus appropriations bill, and invests in NIST’s aging research infrastructure, including $60 million to upgrade the 53-year old radiation physics laboratory. Cybersecurity research is fully funded in this bill, including $72.7 million for cryptographic standards – an increase of $7 million, and $31.5 million for the expanded National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCOE), which will consolidate the activities of the National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace into the NCCOE.
- National Science Foundation. The National Science Foundation (NSF) is funded at $7.46 billion, $119 million more than the fiscal year 2015 level. This funding includes $6.03 billion for NSF’s research and development facilities to support today’s scientists, engineers and technicians, and $880 million for NSF’s education and training programs to build tomorrow’s innovation workforce. The bill does not include any restrictions to Geosciences funding, and funds Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences at the fiscal year 2015 level.
- Weather Satellites. This bill provides $370 million to begin building new polar weather satellites. Polar satellites provide 85 percent of the data used to forecast the weather, and are a vital component of Americans’ personal, property and economic security. One-third of U.S. GDP is affected by climate and weather, including farmers trying to protect livestock and crops, cities relying on energy from wind turbines and solar panels, and air travelers trying to get home safely and on time. In 2014 alone, the United States suffered eight major weather and climate events. Estimated to have cost more than $1 billion dollars each, these disasters would have cost even more without sufficient warning.
- Census Bureau. The Census Bureau is funded at $1.37 billion, $282 million more than the fiscal year 2015 level, investing in new technologies like internet response that could save more than $5 billion in the upcoming 2020 Decennial Census. The 2010 Census cost nearly $13 billion, and the Bureau projects that repeating the same old paper-and-pencil Census in 2020 could cost more than $17 billion.
- No new harmful policy riders. The bill does not include new harmful policy riders included in the House bill: four gun riders that would have been made permanent and seven new gun riders; cuts to NSF’s Geosciences research; restrictions on participation in climate change activities; prohibitions on negotiating trade agreements that include climate or visa provisions; a rider that would have made the Census’s American Community Survey voluntary; restrictions on NOAA’s ocean activities; restrictions on implementing Fishery Management Council decisions; restrictions on defending the President’s immigration executive order in court; restrictions on grant funding to sanctuary cities; prohibitions on enforcement of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act or a prohibition on promoting or licensing exports to Cuba.
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE
The Department of Defense (DoD) Appropriations Act, 2016 provides $572.8 billion in base and Overseas Contingency Operation (OCO) funding, compared to $554.1 billion enacted in fiscal year 2015 and $577.9 billion in the President’s budget request. The base budget appropriation is $514.1 billion with $58.6 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations of the Department of Defense, compared to $63.9 billion for DoD OCO enacted in fiscal year 2015.
The Subcommittee’s allocation eliminates the OCO gimmick and conforms to the recently enacted Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, providing additional resources to protect America, build infrastructure, create opportunity and spur economic growth.
Key Points & Highlights
The Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2016 emphasizes the following priorities:
(1) Supporting our Troops, Veterans, and their Families
(2) Investing in Innovation to Maintain our Technological Edge
(3) Investing in Medical Research to Improve Care Outcomes
(4) Restoring Readiness
(5) Improving Military Capabilities and International Cooperation
Supporting our Troops, Veterans, and their Families
The men and women and families of those that serve our country on active duty, in the reserves and as civilians are the backbone of our Armed Forces. Support for these Americans in the defense bill include:
- Funds the President’s budget request of a 1.3 percent pay raise for military and civilian employees, 0.3 percent higher than in 2015.
- Adds $281.2 million to the President’s request to maintain funding for commissaries, one of the most important and popular benefits for service members. Commissaries promote ready access to healthy food choices, especially in geographically remote military communities.
- Rejects consolidation of TRICARE.
- Provides an additional $300 million to the President’s request for the Basic Allowance for Housing to comply with the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2016, which directs that service members pay on average no more than two percent out-of-pocket costs for housing.
- Maintains a provision eliminating the five percent discount for tobacco and tobacco-related products sold at military exchanges.
- Adds $25 million to the President’s request for continuation and expansion of the Special Victims’ Counsel Program to provide victims of sexual assault with legal assistance and support.
- Adds $18 million to the President’s request for the Beyond Yellow Ribbon program, which supports National Guard members, Reservists and their families throughout their deployments.
- Continues efforts to improve medical record transfer between DoD and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
- Adds $72.2 million to the President’s request for credit monitoring services to address the effects of the Office of Personnel Management data breach.
- Adds $3 million to the President’s request for the Healthy Base Initiative and $1.5 million for the Fruit and Vegetable Prescription Plan Pilot Program, which promote healthy lifestyles for troops and their families.
- Adds $34 million to the President’s request for financial literacy training, to help service members better plan for the future and to avoid scams that target military personnel.
Investing in Innovation to Maintain our Technological Edge
Continuing to invest in basic and advanced research and development is essential to maintaining our technological edge on the battlefield and enhancing our national security. The bill supports these efforts:
- Adds $220.5 million to the President’s request for non-medical basic research, for total funding of $2.32 billion. This is 10 percent more than funding for basic research in the budget request and five percent increase from last year’s enacted levels.
- Adds $200 million to the President’s request for a new “technology offset” fund to investment in cutting edge technologies. These emerging technologies will help the Armed Forces maintain its advantage over near-peer competitors.
- Adds $250 million to the President’s request for the Rapid Innovation Fund, which transitions advanced research and development concepts from design to production.
- Adds $100 million to the President’s request for the assessment of military weapons systems for cyber threats. Our weapons systems must be secure against cyber warfare and cyber espionage, and the additional funding will jump-start a new line of defense against 21st century threats.
- Adds $20 million to the President’s request each for the Army, Navy and Air Force for alternative energy research, promoting energy efficiency and reduced emissions.
- Adds $37 million to the President’s request for counter-terrorism research and development programs.
- Adds $40 million to the President’s request for development for advanced AESA radars for Air National Guard F-16s.
- Adds $30 million to the President’s request for development for Auxiliary Oceanographic research vessels.
- Adds $45 million to the President’s request for High Performance Computing Modernization.
- Adds $40 million to the President’s request for a cooperative program assisting the Government of Israel for improving tunnel detection systems, in order to find and counter terrorist networks.
Investing in Medical Research to Improve Care Outcomes
Just as investing in basic and advanced science has paid great dividends, similar investments in medical research and battlefield medicine are saving more lives while improving care options and quality of life after injuries. This knowledge helps better inform treatment for everyone. In addition, DoD disease research is advancing our knowledge of the effects on our troops and their families and leading to improved disease management and other breakthroughs. The bill supports these efforts:
- Adds $1.237 billion to the President’s request for DoD medical research, seven percent more than last year’s act, for total funding of $1.935 billion.
- Includes $278.7 million for the Peer-Reviewed Medical Research Program.
- Includes $120 million for Breast Cancer Research.
- Includes $80 million for Prostate Cancer Research.
- Includes $125 million for Traumatic Brain Injury and Psychological Health Research.
- Includes $10 million for Orthotics and Prosthetics Outcomes Research.
The high operational tempo of the last decade and the effects of budget sequestration have made maintaining the readiness of our military an increasing challenge. The bill fully supports the President’s request while taking additional steps to keep us on the path toward full spectrum readiness:
- Adds $608.6 million to the President’s request to further readiness. The additional funding is to help the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines restore full-spectrum combat readiness after the 2013 sequestration cuts forced the elimination of critical training opportunities.
- Provides an additional $316.3 million to the President’s request for Facilities Sustainment, Restoration and Maintenance across all the Services. Sequestration has forced cutbacks in repairs to aging military buildings, and additional funding will help repair leaking roofs, broken windows and other deferred maintenance tasks.
- Adds $6 million to the President’s request for Army Reserve Cyber training and $7.5 million for Army National Guard Cyber Protection Teams.
Improving Military Capabilities and International Cooperation
- Adds $350 million to the President’s request for 5 F/A-18 Super Hornets for the Navy.
- Adds $660 million to the President’s request for 7 E/A-18G Growlers for the Navy.
- F-35 Lightning II Procurement:
- Adds $294 million to the President’s request for three Air Force aircraft.
- Adds $780 million to the President’s request for six Marine Corps aircraft.
- Adds $255 million to the President’s request for two Navy aircraft.
- Adds $329.8 million to the President’s request for Israeli missile defense programs.
- Funds the President’s budget request of $1.4 billion for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle Program and includes bill language to ensure robust and fair competition among all certified launch providers.
- Adds $144 million to the President’s request to continue development of the Next Generation Rocket Engine.
- Adds $1 billion to the President’s request to the National Guard and Reserve Equipment Account.
- Adds $200 million to the President’s request for the National Guard Counter-Drug Program.
- Adds $138.8 million to the President’s request for seveb additional Blackhawks for the Army National Guard.
- Adds $1 billion to the President’s request for an additional DDG-51 Destroyer and $635 million for an Afloat Forward Staging Base.
- Accelerates long-lead procurement of the Amphibious Assault Ship replacement, the Dock Landing Ship replacement and the Landing Craft Utility replacement.
- Supports important international efforts, including:
- Full funding for the President’s budget request of $715 million for the Iraq Train and Equip Fund.
- $1.1 billion for the Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund (CTPF) to assist friendly countries in defending against violent extremism. Of the amount provided, up to $600 million is provided for security assistance to Jordan, with the remaining funds to be used for established train, advise and assist missions around the globe. Funds may also be used in support of vetted Syrian opposition forces, subject to congressional approval of specific funding requests from the Secretary of Defense.
- Full funding for the President’s budget request of $789 million for the European Reassurance Initiative.
- $250 million for lethal and non-lethal equipment and training for Ukrainian security forces.
ENERGY AND WATER DEVELOPMENT
The U.S. Senate Appropriations Energy and Water Development fiscal year 2016 funding legislation totals $37.185 billion in discretionary budget authority, $2.983 billion more than fiscal year 2015 and $1.149 billion more than the President’s request.
The Energy and Water Development bill invests in a wide range of critical programs that are vital to America’s economic competitiveness and protect Americans from the threat of nuclear terrorism.
The bill provides $5.989 billion for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to dredge America’s waterways to support the movement of critical commodities, reduce the impact of natural disasters by focusing on flood control efforts, and provide recreation opportunities at campgrounds, lakes and marinas. The bill also provides $1.275 billion for the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation to improve the management of water resources for 31 million people in 17 states, and to mitigate the impact of recent droughts in Western states.
The bill also provides $29.7 billion for the Department of Energy to develop clean energy technologies that combat climate change and create U.S. jobs, modernize the nuclear deterrent, secure dangerous nuclear and radiological materials around the world, and clean up the country’s Cold War environmental legacy.
Title I—Corps of Engineers
The Energy and Water bill provides $5.989 billion, $1.257 billion more than the budget request, for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. It is also about $350 million more than the House Committee mark, and $489 million more than the Senate Committee mark. Every one dollar spent on Army Corps of Engineer projects nets $16 in economic benefits.
Investigations of Water Resource problems and needs: The bill provides $121 million for water resources studies, $24 million more than the Administration’s request. The bill allows 10 new study starts pertaining to rivers and harbors, flood and storm damage reduction, shore protection and aquatic ecosystem restoration.
Water Resources Construction: The bill provides $1.862 billion for water resources projects that provide for improvements to navigation, flood risk management and for ecosystem restoration. This amount is $223 million more than the fiscal year 2015 enacted amount and $690 million more than the request. The bill allows six new construction starts.
Mississippi River and Tributaries: The bill provides $345 million for the construction, operation and maintenance of navigation, flood control and ecosystem restoration projects along the Mississippi River and its tributaries from Cairo, Illinois to the mouth of the Mississippi River. This amount is $43 million more than the fiscal year 2015 enacted amount and $120 million more than the fiscal year 2016 budget request.
Water Resources Operation and Maintenance: The bill provides $3.137 billion for operation and maintenance of water resources projects such as Baltimore Harbor, Mobile Harbor and numerous other ports and flood control projects that are vital to the nation’s economy, security and public safety. That is $228 million more than the fiscal year 2015 enacted amount and $427 million more than the fiscal year 2016 request. The bill provides $1.254 billion for eligible activities that are reimbursed by the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund.
Title II—Department of the Interior
The bill provides $1.275 billion for the Department of Interior, which is $135 million more than the fiscal year 2015 enacted amount and $169 million more than the budget request. It is also approximately $168 million more than the House bill and $132 million more than the Senate Committee mark. This amount includes $10 million for the Central Utah Project and $1.265 billion for the Bureau of Reclamation.
Providing water and power to the West: $1.119 billion is provided for water and related resources to address water storage and conveyance, power and environmental compliance, and restoration activities in the West. Within this amount, the bill provides $100 million for the Bureau of Reclamation to address the exceptional drought conditions that are impacting many parts of the western U.S.
Title III-Department of Energy (DOE)
The Energy and Water bill provides $29.7 billion for DOE. This amount is $1.8 billion more than the fiscal year 2015 level. The bill restores $40 million for climate change research that was cut in the House bill.
Scientific Discovery: The bill provides $5.350 billion, $279 million more than the fiscal year 2015 level, for the Office of Science. The Office of Science is the largest federal sponsor of basic research in the physical sciences, and supports 22,000 researchers at 17 national laboratories and more than 300 universities. The bill continues to advance the highest priorities in materials research, high performance computing and biology to maintain U.S. scientific leadership.
Applied Energy Research and Development: The bill provides $4.188 billion for applied energy programs, $432 million more than the fiscal year 2015 level. This funding supports research, development, demonstration and deployment of an extensive range of clean energy technologies, including for nuclear, fossil and renewable energy applications, that keep the United States in the forefront of energy innovation. This amount includes $291 million for the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) to develop next-generation, innovative energy technologies.
Next-Generation Computing: The bill provides $222 million, including $158 million in the Office of Science and $64 million in the National Nuclear Security Administration, for the Exascale Computing Initiative. This amount will keep DOE on track to deploy this next-generation computing system by 2022. Exascale computers will not only be substantially faster than today’s highest-performing systems, but also provide new capabilities to answer complex problems needed for scientific discovery, national security and applied energy research.
Cybersecurity: The bill provides $314 million, which is $10 million more than the fiscal year 2015 level, for cybersecurity activities. This amount will better protect the DOE and national laboratories from increasingly frequent cyberattacks, and improve the cybersecurity of the energy sector.
Nonproliferation: The bill provides $1.940 billion, the same as the budget request, for nonproliferation activities that reduce the threat of nuclear terrorism. This amount will continue efforts to secure and permanently eliminate remaining stockpiles of dangerous nuclear and radiological materials around the world. The bill also invests in new technologies that can detect uranium and plutonium production activities in foreign countries.
Nuclear Weapons: The bill provides $8.846 billion, which is $660 million more than the fiscal year 2015 level, for nuclear weapons activities. This amount will advance life extension programs for the B61 gravity bomb and the W76 and W88 submarine-launched warheads; invest in the science, technology and engineering needed to maintain a safe and secure stockpile without underground nuclear weapons testing; and upgrade or replace aging infrastructure, especially for uranium and plutonium activities.
Naval Reactors: The bill provides $1.375 billion, which is $141 million more than the fiscal year 2015 level, for naval reactors. This amount includes $187 million to continue the design of a 40-year nuclear reactor core to power the Ohio-class submarine, and $133 million to refuel a research and training reactor in New York.
Environmental Cleanup: The bill provides a total of $6.218 billion, $347 million more than the fiscal year 2015 level and $400 million more than the budget request, for environmental cleanup activities across the DOE complex. This amount includes $300 million for recovery efforts at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant—the nation’s only deep geologic repository for nuclear waste.
Title IV—Independent Agencies
The Energy and Water bill provides $342 million for eight independent agencies, including the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, five regional commissions, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board. This amount includes $119 million for the NRC.
FINANCIAL SERVICES AND GENERAL GOVERNMENT
The fiscal year 2016 Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) Appropriations bill includes a total of $23.235 billion in discretionary budget authority, $1.665 billion more than the fiscal year 2015 enacted level. This level is $2.985 billion more than the House Committee level, and $2.770 billion more than the Senate Committee level.
The bill includes $11.235 billion for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), $290 million more than the fiscal year 2015 funding level. The bill includes $6.778 billion for the Judiciary, $10.196 billion for the General Services Administration (GSA) Federal Buildings Fund, $1.605 billion for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and $871 million for the Small Business Administration (SBA).
Key Points & Highlights
Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund:
Investing in our communities is more critical than ever as our economy works to recover. The CDFI Fund has the unique ability to leverage private sector investment in community development projects like affordable housing, retail development and lending to small businesses, filling some of the gap left by private sector investment after the financial crisis. The agreement supports community development in underserved areas, including in Tribal nations, by providing $233.5 million for the CDFI Fund, $3 million more than the fiscal year 2015 enacted level. The agreement includes $22 million to expand access to healthy foods, $19 million for the Bank Enterprise Award program, and $1 million to promote CDFI expansion into underserved communities, especially in rural areas. The agreement provides $15.5 million for CDFIs that benefit native communities and waives the match requirements for both native and small CDFIs that may still be suffering from the impacts of the recent recession and are in need of additional assistance. The agreement also authorizes the Department of the Treasury to guarantee $750 million in bonds to CDFIs, at no cost to the taxpayer, by providing long-term, low-rate financing for community development in our nation’s communities hit hardest by the economic downturn.
Internal Revenue Service (IRS):
Failing to collect what taxpayers owe leaves the federal budget short about $345 billion per year, primarily due to underreported income. The IRS needs the resources to provide timely responses to millions of taxpayers who seek assistance, acquire better tools to identify unreported income, pursue tax cheats, execute ever-expanding responsibilities under the tax code, and improve collection rates to narrow the tax gap.
The agreement provides $11.235 billion, $290 million (three percent) more than the fiscal year 2015 level. The agreement level is $1.13 billion (11 percent) more than the House Committee level and $760 million (seven percent) more than the Senate Committee level.
The agreement directs that the funds provided above the fiscal year 2015 level be devoted to making measurable improvements in the customer service representative level of service rate, improving the identification and prevention of refund fraud and identity theft, and enhancing cyber security to safeguard taxpayer data.
Office of National Drug Control Policy:
The agreement provides $380 million, $5 million (one percent) more than the fiscal year 2015 enacted level. For the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program, the agreement provides $250 million, a $5 million increase from fiscal year 2015, and $95 million for Drug-Free Communities, a $1.5 million increase from the fiscal year 2015 enacted level. This funding will help reduce drug trafficking and drug use.
The agreement provides $6.778 billion in discretionary funding, $80.4 million (one percent) more than the fiscal year 2015 enacted level. The agreement provides resources for the Federal Courts based upon the Judiciary’s most recent estimates. Temporary Judgeships included in fiscal year 2016 House and Senate FSGG bills, that would otherwise lapse, are extended for an additional year. Our citizens rely on a federal court system that guarantees the rights of all Americans, ensures the right to a defense, and secures public safety, using probation officers to supervise offenders living in our communities.
District of Columbia:
The agreement includes $730 million in special federal payments for over a dozen distinct purposes relating to the District of Columbia. This is $50 million more than the fiscal year 2015 enacted funding. Of the total, $610 million are for the salaries and expenses of the local courts ($274 million); public defender services ($91 million); and pre-trial and post-conviction offender supervision ($245 million). All these accounts are fully dependent on federal funds for their operations and are independent of the local government. The remaining $120 million is designated for the District government. Of this $120 million, $85 million is for education-related functions: $45 million for elementary and secondary school improvement and $40 million for the District of Columbia Tuition Assistance Grants for post-secondary education. The agreement provides $14 million for the Clean Rivers Project to remediate combined sewer overflow into waterways of the nation’s capital, $13 million for emergency planning and security, and $5 million for prevention and treatment to address the HIV/AIDS epidemic. In addition to the special federal payments, the annual bill approves the District’s annual $12 billion local operating budget.
Title VIII of the agreement includes 18 general provisions applicable only to the District. The agreement also mirrors current law permitting use of funds for syringe exchange to address HIV/AIDS epidemic, except in locations deemed inappropriate by local law enforcement or public health officials. The agreement includes a one-year provision allowing the District to spend its fiscal year 2017 local funds on and after October 1, 2016, in the event of a lapse in appropriations, thereby protecting the District of Columbia local government operations from the impacts of a federal government shutdown.
Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC):
The agreement provides $125 million for the CPSC, an increase of $2 million or two percent more than the fiscal year 2015 enacted level. With this funding, CPSC will: (1) continue to enhance import surveillance activities at the nation’s ports of entry to prevent hazardous products from entering the U.S. consumer marketplace; (2) communicate safety responsibilities to industry and educate the public on best safety practices and recalled products; (3) implement cybersecurity, physical security and personnel security improvements.
Election Assistance Commission (EAC):
The Election Assistance Commission is funded at $9.6 million, the level requested by the President and provided by the Senate. The House provided no funding. With this funding, EAC will ensure that voting systems are tested to federal standards as well as provide information to support the voting process, and effective and efficient election administration.
Federal Communications Commission (FCC):
From communicating during emergencies to promoting economic growth to fostering political debate and individual expression, promoting and maintaining a robust yet adaptable communications network is critical to our daily lives. The agreement includes $384 million, $44 million more than the fiscal year 2015 level, to carry out this mission and ensure all Americans have access to communications networks by promoting competition and protecting consumers.
Federal Trade Commission (FTC):
A marketplace can only thrive if consumers can count on robust, open competition and trustworthy information about products and services. The agreement provides $307 million for the FTC, $14 million more than the fiscal year 2015 level, to detect and eliminate illegal collusion, prevent anticompetitive mergers, combat consumer fraud, fight identity theft and promote consumer privacy. Since the financial crisis, the FTC has been particularly diligent about working to protect consumers from mortgage and debt reduction scams.
General Services Administration (GSA):
The agreement provides a total of approximately $10.2 billion for the Federal Buildings Fund, an increase of approximately $958 million (10 percent) from the fiscal year 2015 enacted level, an increase of $1.76 billion from the House level (21 percent) and $1.9 billion (23 percent) from the Senate level. This includes approximately $1.608 billion for construction and approximately $735 million for repair of federal buildings. The agreement fully funds the budget request for pre-election transition services (in accordance with the Pre-Election Presidential Transition Act of 2010) in the amount of approximately $13.3 million.
Office of Personnel Management (OPM):
The agreement provides $272 million for OPM and the OPM Inspector General, an increase of $132 million (94 percent) from the fiscal year 2015 enacted level and the same as the budget request. Funding in the amount of $21 million is provided for OPM’s cybersecurity needs. For individuals affected by the OPM data breaches, language is included providing identity protection coverage for 10 years and identity theft insurance in the amount of $5,000.
Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB):
The agreement includes $21.3 million for the PCLOB to help ensure that federal laws and policies related to terrorism appropriately consider privacy and civil liberties. These resources, $13.8 million (184 percent) more than the fiscal year 2015 enacted level, will enable the PCLOB to pursue its mission without delay and provide a one-time payment to support the agency’s relocation from their current headquarters building which is being demolished. The PCLOB is now contributing a much-needed voice to the ongoing debate over mass surveillance.
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC):
The strength of our economy and the soundness of our financial markets depend upon investor confidence in the financial disclosures and statements released by publicly traded companies for which SEC’s oversight is indispensable. The agreement includes $1.605 billion to help SEC fulfill its mandate to protect investors, promote capital formation, and maintain fair, honest and efficient stock and securities markets. This funding level is $105 million more than the fiscal year 2015 enacted level, and the House and Senate Committee levels, and is fully offset by fees collected on securities transactions.
Small Business Administration (SBA):
Ensuring small businesses have the tools to grow is critical for our nation’s fragile economic recovery. Over the last two decades, small and new businesses created two out of every three net new jobs in the U.S., and today over half of all working Americans own or work for a small business. To ensure that small businesses have access to credit and critical technical assistance, the agreement includes $871 million for the SBA. The agreement provides $231 million for entrepreneurial development grants, $11 million more than the fiscal year 2015 enacted level, including $117 million for Small Business Development Centers and $10.5 million for the SCORE mentorship program – two programs that provide training, assistance and mentorship for small business owners. The agreement includes $18 million for the State Trade and Export Promotion program and $25 million for microloan technical assistance. It also includes $187 million for business loans and allows the SBA to guarantee up to $26.5 billion in 7(a) loans to expand access to capital for small business owners. The agreement includes $187 million to support disaster lending to businesses of all sizes, homeowners, and renters recovering after major natural disasters. Finally, the agreement includes a provision to reauthorize the 504 refinance program at $7.5 billion to help business owners refinance their commercial mortgages and to increase the “Family of Funds” limit on Small Business Investment Companies, so that these investors can expand their lending to more small businesses.
The agreement does not include the following harmful provisions:
- House provisions that would have barred the IRS’s use of funds for Affordable Care Act (ACA) activities or any HHS transfers to IRS for ACA purposes.
- House ban on the IRS making any determination that a church is not tax-exempt for participating in political campaigns unless the Commissioner consents and the Congressional authorizing committees are notified.
- A provision in both the House and Senate Committee marks that would have prevented Treasury from voting against international development projects that build new coal-fired power plants.
- Harmful provisions in the House bill that would have restricted travel and transactions with Cuba.
- A House provision that would have blocked the District of Columbia from using funds to implement its local reproductive health non-discrimination law.
- A House provision that would have expanded the existing ban on funds for abortion under the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, except for life of the mother or pregnancy resulting from rape or incest, to also include a ban on abortion under multi-state health plan coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
- Provisions included in both the House and Senate Committee marks that would have undermined the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau by eliminating its direct funding source, restructuring it as a commission, and preventing it from implementing important rules related to forced arbitration.
- Provisions included in both the House and Senate Committee marks that would have prevented the FCC from implementing its Open Internet Order to protect consumer rights to net neutrality.
- A House provision that would have banned the use of any funds by the Financial Stability Oversight Council to designate non-banks as “too big to fail” unless the processes for such designation were changed. The proposal would have created considerable delays in making the designations, effectively watering down the strong consumer protections of current law.
- A banking bill included as Title IX of the Senate bill that would have weakened standards and requirements under Dodd-Frank reforms, such as abusive mortgage lending, poor risk management at large multi-hundred billion dollar banks and lack of regulatory oversight for large non-bank financial institutions.
- A provision included in the Senate bill that would have changed federal campaign finance laws in order to override the spending limits that exist for coordinated spending between political parties and candidates.
DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY
The fiscal year 2016 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Appropriations Bill totals $40.955 billion in discretionary spending in compliance with the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. In addition, it includes: $160 million for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) and $6.713 billion of disaster aid. The bill funds the government through September 30, 2016.
As citizens are continually tested by new and emerging threats both domestically and globally, such as the recent attacks in San Bernardino, CA, and Paris, France, this bill funds the wide-ranging programs and activities of DHS that are designed to secure the nation from all manner of threats. These include programs to facilitate the efficient flow of commerce, prevent terrorism, protect our leaders, secure the border, enforce and administer immigration laws, and prepare for and respond to disasters.
The bill includes funding above the House and Senate bill levels to address the growing threats from radicalized individuals and of cyber intrusions from sophisticated organizations and state actors. The increased funding was a result of the Bipartisan Budget Act, which lifted the spartan, post-sequester budget caps.
The bill also provides robust funding for the Coast Guard to secure and safeguard our ports and waterways, strengthening Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) aviation security activities following the discovery of security vulnerabilities by the DHS Inspector General (IG) in May 2015, making additional investments in border security technology so that the agents and officers can perform their jobs more efficiently, and assuring our nation’s communities are adequately resourced to prepare for and respond to all types of disasters.
Key Points & Highlights
Prevent Terrorism and Enhance Security
- To address the growing threat from radicalized individuals and complex coordinated terrorist attacks, the bill includes $50 million in new funding for the Secretary of Homeland Security to distribute as needed to state and local governments, universities, and non-profit organizations, to prepare for emergent threats from violent extremism and complex, coordinated terrorist attacks. The bill also provides $3.1 million for the new Office of Community Partnerships, which will focus on countering violent extremism.
- For the TSA, the bill provides $7.440 billion, $211 million more than the fiscal year 2015 enacted level and $93 million more than the request. TSA protects the nation’s transportation systems, including aviation, mass transit, highway and pipelines. The additional funding will address shortcomings identified in the DHS IG’s audit of passenger screening performance. Specifically, the funding will allow TSA to (1) maintain airport screening personnel at current levels (602 more than the request), (2) enhance training by sending new hires to the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center ($12.5 million more than the request), and (3) improve explosives detection technologies to address gaps identified in the IG audit ($15 million more than the request). Additional funding, $11.7 million more than the request, is also provided for the PreCheck expansion program whereby TSA will leverage private sector expertise to grow the population of known travelers.
- For the Coast Guard, which is responsible for maritime safety, security and environmental stewardship in U.S. ports and waterways, the bill provides $10.922 billion, including $160 million for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO). When OCO is excluded, the total amount is $933 million more than the fiscal year 2015 enacted level and $1.007 billion more than the request. The additional funds will allow the Coast Guard to recapitalize vessels and aircraft that are decades beyond their service lives. These investments will enable the Coast Guard to save more lives, interdict more illegal drugs and migrants, improve enforcement of illegal fisheries, and better secure our ports. The bill includes $1.264 billion for vessels, including $640 million for the 9th National Security Cutter, $89 million for the Offshore Patrol Cutter program, $340 million for six Fast Response Cutters and $7 million for continued development of a new polar icebreaker. The bill also includes $295 million for aircrafts, including $95 million for a new C-130J aircraft and $102 million for the HC-27J conversion program. Other key investments include $182 million for construction of shore facilities and $21 million for military housing upgrades.
Secure and Manage Our Borders
- The bill provides $11.057 billion for Customs and Border Protection (CBP), which is responsible for securing our borders as well as regulating and facilitating international trade and immigration. At this funding level, CBP will have the resources to hire and maintain 21,370 Border Patrol agents and 23,775 CBP Officers, who are vital to strengthening and safeguarding U.S. borders during this time of increased threats to our nation’s security. Substantial investments in border security technology are included in the bill so that Border Patrol agents and CBP officers can do their job more efficiently. These investments include upgrading radars, procuring additional remote surveillance technologies, replacing an unmanned aerial system that crashed recently, acquiring additional air assets such as two multi-role enforcement aircraft, and repairing border fencing and roads.
- To deter illicit drugs, radiological or nuclear weapons being transported into the United States, $310 million is provided to recapitalize our nation’s aging radiation detection equipment as well as replace and upgrade large and small-scale non-intrusive inspection equipment and hand-held detectors at our ports of entry. This funding is 40 percent more than what was provided in fiscal year 2015.
- The bill provides $282.5 million for the Office of Biometric Identity Management. This funding helps the Departments of Homeland Security, Justice, Defense and State share real-time biometric and identity data to monitor who legally enters and exits the country and assure national security, public safety and the integrity of our immigration laws.
Enforce and Administer Our Immigration Laws
- To enforce U.S. immigration laws as well as streamline and facilitate the legal immigration process, the bill provides $5.832 billion for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Within this total is $1.9 billion to support investigations in high-priority mission areas, including human trafficking and smuggling, child exploitation, commercial fraud and intellectual property rights enforcement, gangs, cybercrimes and terrorism. In addition, the bill provides $3.211 billion for detention and removal operations to support 34,000 detention beds and the Alternatives to Detention program.
- As requested, a total of $695 million is provided within CBP and ICE to house, process and transport up to 58,000 unaccompanied children and families with children.
- Fully funds the $119.7 million request to maintain and improve the employment eligibility verification system known as E-Verify. E-Verify now has more than half a million employers enrolled and processed more than 30 million cases in 2014 – a six-fold increase since the program began in 2007.
- A new provision allows returning non-immigrant workers to be exempt from counting towards the cap on H-2B visas for fiscal year 2016, permitting employers who cannot find local temporary workers to more easily fill seasonal jobs in industries such as seafood processing. This provision increases opportunities for every business to hire enough seasonal employees, provides business with more certainty that their seasonal employees will be able to return, and rewards workers who have been using the program successfully and playing by the rules.
Safeguard and Secure Cyberspace
- We face a multi-faceted and complex threat through cyber intrusions and data theft from nation-states, sophisticated organizations and cyber actors. In response to the OPM cyber breach, the bill fully funds the President’s request for cybersecurity at $819 million, which is $66 million more than the fiscal year 2015 level. These funds will protect civilian federal networks, support information sharing with the private sector, and continue cybersecurity education programs.
- As a leader among federal agencies on cyber security matters, it is important that DHS has cutting edge security for its own networks. The bill provides a total of $100 million in new funding to strengthen the Department of Homeland Security’s network security and resilience as well as address cyber-related vulnerabilities throughout DHS components.
- The bill provides a total of $1.933 billion for the Secret Service. There is $110 million for Secret Service-directed cyber training for state and local law enforcement officials and judges, to continue the growing cooperation between the Secret Service and the FBI in cybersecurity, and maintain the Secret Service’s primary role in protecting U.S. financial systems in cyberspace.
Strengthen National Preparedness and Resilience
- The bill includes a total of $1.5 billion, the same as fiscal year 2015 and $289 million more than the request, in critical funding to equip and train first responders and state, tribal and local officials for homeland security protection and response. As demonstrated by recent events in Charleston, Chattanooga and San Bernardino, large and small communities need to be ready for the unthinkable.
- Firefighter grants for equipment and staffing are funded at $690 million which is $10 million more than the fiscal year 2015 level and $20 million more than the request. Two-thirds of the nation’s fire departments lack sufficient personnel to safely complete fire calls. Further, the gap across the country in needed fire equipment is no less than $3 billion.
- State and local emergency managers are critical for coordinating responses to the over 44,890 disasters at the local level as well as the 45 Presidentially-declared disasters in 2014. $350 million is for the Emergency Management Performance Grants to ensure emergency management personnel and capacity is sustained nationwide.
- To better prepare the nation for future disasters, the bill provides $100 million for the Predisaster Mitigation Program, quadrupling these funds from $25 million in fiscal year 2015, and $190 million for flood hazard mapping and risk analysis, almost doubling the program from $100 million last year. Mitigation investments save four dollars in disaster recovery spending for every one dollar spent.
- Funding for recovery from both past and anticipated disasters is critical to restoring communities and our way of life. The bill provides $7.4 billion for the Disaster Relief Fund, of which $6.7 billion is provided pursuant the Budget Control Act disaster relief adjustment.
- Drops House rider that would have prohibited the Department of Homeland Security or any other federal agency from expanding the existing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals or implementing the proposed Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents while the court injunctive order remains in effect.
- Drops House rider that would have blocked the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) state and local grant funds from being awarded to sanctuary cities.
- Dropped three House riders that would have prohibited funding for abortion or abortion services for detained aliens.
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, ENVIRONMENT, AND RELATED AGENCIES
In total, the bill provides $32.159 billion in discretionary funds for programs within the jurisdiction of the Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies bill, which is $1.74 billion more than the fiscal year 2015 level, or a six percent increase, and just $48.9 million less than the President’s request for discretionary spending. Thanks to funding increases provided through the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, the amount in this bill is nearly $2 billion more than the funding levels provided in either of the House or Senate Committee marks.
The Interior bill invests in a wide range of critical programs that are vital to the continued conservation of America’s public lands and cultural resources, protection of the environment and public health, and the appropriate development of our domestic natural resources.
The bill provides $12.016 billion for the Department of the Interior, including funds to operate the National Park Service, which is preparing for its 2016 Centennial; support wildlife and land management responsibilities of the Bureau of Land Management and Fish and Wildlife Service; uphold Federal trust responsibilities to Indian Tribes and Alaska Natives; and manage the responsible development of renewable and conventional energy on public lands and the Outer Continental Shelf.
The bill provides $8.139 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to protect human health and the environment, and $5.664 billion to protect and conserve our nation’s forests and fight wildland fires through the U.S. Forest Service. The bill also provides vital increases for tribal health priorities through the Indian Health Service, as well as the nation’s premier cultural institutions, including the Smithsonian, National Gallery of Art, John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities.
Key Points & Highlights
- Wildland Firefighting and Prevention Needs. The bill provides $4.2 billion for wildland fire management activities at the Forest Service and Interior Department. This includes $2.1 billion for wildfire suppression for the agencies to respond to forest fires. Increases in the budget allocation provided by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 allowed the Subcommittee to provide an additional $593 million above the ten-year average of fire suppression to account for a significant increase in firefighting needs in the past several years and the current forecasting models. The bill also provides an increase to hazardous fuels reduction programs, including $375 million for the Forest Service and $170 million for the Interior Department, which is a total of $19.2 million more than the fiscal year 2015 enacted level.
- Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). The bill provides $450 million to the Department of the Interior and the Forest Service for the four land management agencies to acquire and conserve lands, and provide assistance to state and non-federal partners. This is $50 million more than the President’s request and a 47 percent increase from the fiscal year 2015 enacted level. It is also $202 million more than the House Committee mark and $144 million more than the Senate Committee mark. LWCF is critical for improving recreational access to our federal land, protecting iconic landscapes, and providing farmers and ranchers with easements that allow them and their families to continue working their lands without pressure to develop it. LWCF was last funded at this level in fiscal year 2010.
- Support for the National Park Service Centennial. The National Park Service receives a nine percent increase from last year for operating needs, construction and land acquisition. Providing the increase is critical for supporting the expected record crowds at national parks as the Service celebrates its Centennial in 2016.
- Protecting Investments for the Environmental Protection Agency. The bill restores key regulatory and grant investments within the EPA budget that were targeted for crippling budget cuts by both House and Senate Committee marks. The bill includes $717 million more than the House Committee mark and $543 million more than the Senate Committee mark for the EPA.
- Tribal Health and Education Priorities. The agreement provides substantial increases for the Bureau of Indian Affairs (seven percent increase) and Indian Health Service (four percent increase) to meet the nation’s trust responsibility for American Indians and Alaska Natives. Contract support costs are fully funded at the requested amount, and the agreement boosts funding for Indian school construction and maintenance more than the requested levels.
Title I—Department of the Interior
The bill provides $12.016 billion for the Department of the Interior, $1.298 billion more than the fiscal year 2015 enacted level, $585 million more than the House Committee mark and $790 million more than the Senate Committee mark.
National Park Service: The bill provides $2.851 billion for the National Park Service, $237 million more than the fiscal year 2015 level, $184 million more than the House Committee mark and $122 million more than the Senate Committee mark. That amount includes $135 million in new investments to support the Park Service’s 2016 Centennial, including $14 million to preserve our nation’s civil rights historical sites and $16 million to fund newly authorized park units and expand critical responsibilities at existing parks. Funds provided for the Centennial include increases above the fiscal year 2015 enacted level of $54 million for park construction projects and $43 million for maintenance activities to help eliminate the Service’s estimated $11.5 billion deferred maintenance backlog. Finally, it includes $15 million for the Centennial Challenge program, which uses federal funds to leverage non-federal investments in national parks on more than a one-to-one basis.
Fish and Wildlife Service: The bill provides $1.508 billion for the Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), $68.6 million more than the fiscal year 2015 enacted level. That amount includes $74.7 million for FWS law enforcement activities to respond to the global wildlife trafficking crisis. The total also includes $481 million for the operation of the National Wildlife Refuge System.
Bureau of Indian Affairs: The agreement provides $2.796 billion, $194 million more than the fiscal year 2015 level. The agreement includes a particular focus on Indian education and provides a $64 million increase for school construction and repair needs. The bill fully funds contract support costs at $277 million.
Offshore Energy Programs: The bill provides $170 million for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and $205 million for the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement to continue to oversee the appropriate development and production of offshore oil and gas, and renewable energy projects in federal waters.
Payments in Lieu of Taxes: The bill provides $452 million for payments to counties through the Payments in Lieu of Taxes program. It is the amount estimated in the President’s budget to fully fund payments in fiscal year 2016.
Title II—Environmental Protection Agency
The bill provides $8.139 billion for the EPA, equal to the fiscal year 2015 enacted level.
Operating Programs: EPA operating programs funded through the Environmental Programs and Management appropriation are at $2.613 billion, equal to the fiscal year 2015 enacted level, and $141 million more than the House Committee mark and $52 million more than the Senate Committee mark. Within that amount, National Estuary Programs are also funded at the enacted level of $26 million. An increase of $27 million is provided for needed cybersecurity investments.
Water infrastructure investments: The Clean Water State Revolving Fund is funded at $1.394 billion and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund is funded at $863 million, restoring severe cuts proposed in the House and Senate Committee marks. The bill increases the total of these investments by $482 million more than the House Committee mark and $434 million more than the Senate Committee marks. These projects not only supply Americans with clean drinking water and replace aging sewer systems, but also produce significant construction jobs.
Geographic Programs: EPA Geographic Programs are funded at $428 million, the same as the fiscal year 2015 enacted level. Within Geographic Programs, the Great Lakes Restoration Agreement receives $300 million, equal to the fiscal year 2015 enacted level and $50 million more than the request. The Chesapeake Bay program receives $73 million, the same as the fiscal year 2015 enacted level and an increase of $3 million to the request.
Title III-Related Agencies
The bill provides $12.069 billion for related agencies, including the Forest Service, Indian Health Service, Smithsonian Institution and other cultural agencies. This is $822 million more than the fiscal year 2015 enacted level.
Forest Service: The bill includes $5.664 billion for the Forest Service. This includes $291 million for Forest and Rangeland Research, $62.3 million for the Forest Legacy Program, $8 million for International Forestry, and $40 million for the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Fund. $375 million is provided for hazardous fuels reduction.
Indian Health Service: The bill provides $4.809 billion, $167 million more than the fiscal year 2015 level. Notably, the bill provides a $10 million increase to address substance abuse and mental health needs among Native youth. It also provides a 14 percent increase to fund construction of new hospitals and clinics and to maintain existing facilities. The bill also fully funds new staffing resources for health facilities that the government has recently completed constructing, and provides a $55 million increase to fully fund contract support costs at $718 million.
Smithsonian Institution: The bill provides $840.2 million for Smithsonian Institution programs and facilities construction, an increase of $21 million more than last year’s enacted level. Funds are provided to expand staffing and maintenance activities required for the 2016 opening of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
National Gallery of Art. The bill provides $147.6 million for operations and facilities needs for the National Gallery of Art, an increase of $9 million from last year.
John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. The bill provides the full request of $36.4 million for the Kennedy Center, including funding requested for construction needs that were not included in the House or Senate Committee marks.
National Endowments for the Arts (NEA) & Humanities (NEH): The bill meets the budget request of $148 million each for the NEA and NEH to support arts and humanities programs, a total increase of $3.8 million over the House and Senate Committee marks that held both agencies at the fiscal year 2015 enacted level.
Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars: The bill includes a total of $10.5 million for the Wilson Center.
Between the House and Senate bills, there were more than 20 riders seeking to degrade bedrock environmental and conservation laws, such as the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, and the Endangered Species Act. There were also attempts to add new controversial matter not in either bill and to diminish the Executive Branch’s ability to propose and implement commonsense rules and regulations. Through hard-fought negotiations on this bill, Democrats were able to successfully block all new anti-environmental provisions, including the following items:
- Language to block efforts by the Environmental Protection Agency to ensure that waters protected under the Clean Water Act are clearly and consistently defined;
- Language to block implementation of the President’s landmark Clean Power Plan, including greenhouse gas emissions restrictions from new and existing power plants;
- Multiple provisions aimed at weakening the Endangered Species Act by substituting politics for science, including riders that affected the listing status of grey wolves, lesser prairie chicken and northern long-eared bat;
- Language to block EPA efforts to strengthen public health protections against ground-level ozone pollution;
- Language to authorize the construction of a road through pristine congressionally authorized wilderness and wildlife habitat at the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska;
- Language to block efforts to strengthen environmental and water quality protections for mining operations;
- Provisions that would have blocked efforts to ensure that impacts of greenhouse gas emissions are calculated consistently and appropriately considered in federal environmental planning decisions;
- Language that would require EPA to deem any biomass energy project as carbon neutral – even if the science didn’t support that decision;
- Language to block the Bureau of Land Management from improving environmental and safety standards for the use of hydraulic fracturing on federal lands;
- Language to overturn the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ tribal recognition process;
- Provision to block EPA from using the Federal Superfund law to require industry to make financial plans to pay for the cleanup of hazardous waste;
- Language to block implementation of a rule to stem the illegal, international trade in elephant ivory;
- Language to block enforcement of a rule that imposes safety standards to reduce lead contamination during building renovations; and
- Language to block EPA’s ability to require industry to phase out hydrofluorocarbons and other refrigerants that damage the ozone layer.
DEPARTMENTS OF LABOR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, AND
EDUCATION, AND RELATED AGENCIES
The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-Education) fiscal year 2016 appropriations bill provides $162.127 billion in base discretionary budget authority, $5.364 billion more than the fiscal year 2015 enacted level. This sum is $9.075 billion and $8.939 billion above the House and Senate bill levels, respectively, and was made possible by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. In addition, the bill includes $1.523 billion in cap adjustment funding, permitted under law, and a $39 million increase, to prevent waste, fraud, abuse and improper payments in the Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security programs.
The Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill provides funding for a broad range of programs that spur economic growth and provide a safety net for those who fall through the cracks. The bill provides support for high-quality early learning opportunities for our youngest children; basic medical research that invests in future cures, preventive services and care that help individuals live healthy lives; job training that helps the unemployed return to work; local school districts; and the enforcement of employee rights in the workplace. It also supports the administrative expenses for the Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and unemployment insurance programs that provide basic retirement security, support for individuals with debilitating disabilities, access to healthcare and temporary financial assistance to unemployed workers. This represents only a piece of what funding in this bill provides for communities and millions of Americans every day.
DEPARTMENT OF LABOR
Job Training—The bill includes $2.71 billion for Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Grants to states, which provide job training skills and assistance to low-skilled adults, dislocated workers and low-income youth with barriers to employment. This is $86 million more than in fiscal year 2015, and it will help hundreds of thousands more people access training and find jobs. This level is $218 million more than in the Senate Committee mark and $86 million more than in the House Committee mark. The bill also increases the Governor’s Reserve to 15 percent from 10 percent, which provides governors funding to support innovative, cost-effective programs to meet unique and pressing workforce needs in their states.
Apprenticeships—The bill includes $90 million for a new Apprenticeship Grant program, which will support competitive grants to states to increase their capacity to register and oversee apprenticeship programs, to industry to launch apprenticeship models, and to community-based organizations to serve underserved populations and fund innovative apprenticeship approaches. Research shows that apprentices earn more over the course of their careers than their peers and are well-positioned to meet the needs of employers in in-demand industries, such as manufacturing, transportation, information technology, healthcare and skilled trades. This is $90 million more than included in either the Senate or House Committee marks.
YouthBuild—The bill includes $85 million for YouthBuild, which helps at-risk youth obtain their high school diplomas while also learning job skills by building affordable housing for low-income and homeless people in their communities. This is $5 million more than in fiscal year 2015. The increase will support five additional grants to help over 300 more at-risk, high school dropouts develop the job skills and knowledge that prepare them to succeed in the current economy.
Wage and Hour Division (WHD)—The bill includes $228 million for the WHD. While this is the same as the amount provided last year, it avoids cuts of $12 million and $18 million proposed by House and Senate Committee marks, respectively. The WHD enforces minimum wage, child labor, family leave and other wage and hour laws intended to protect workers from being deprived of pay they have earned as well as parents who seek to take legally-protected leave after their children are born. The Senate reduction would have caused almost $20 million less in back wages to be recovered by WHD. In fiscal year 2014, the average back wages WHD collected per worker was $890, which equates to a loss of up to several weeks of pay for individuals employed in low-wage occupations.
International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB)—The bill includes $86 million for the ILAB. This amount, while $5 million lower than last year’s level, restores $60 million in grant funding that both the House and Senate Committee marks proposed to eliminate. These funds have been instrumental in helping to protect workers’ rights and eradicate child labor overseas. Continued funding will enable ILAB to support projects in dozens of countries that help build the capacity of U.S. trading partners to comply with their labor obligations under U.S. free trade agreements, including to effectively enforce their own labor laws. The International Labor Organization estimates 21 million people are trapped in forced labor worldwide, and that 120 million children are working below the minimum age and unable to attend school.
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES (HHS)
National Institutes of Health (NIH)—The bill provides $32.084 billion for the NIH, an increase of $2 billion from last year’s level, and the largest increase since fiscal year 2003. The increase fully funds the budget request of $200 million for the new Precision Medicine Initiative and provides an increase of $350 million for Alzheimer’s disease research. It also includes increases of $85 million for the BRAIN Initiative and $100 million for research to combat antimicrobial resistance. Every NIH Institute and Center receives increased funding to support investments to advance science and speed the development of new therapies, diagnostics and preventive measures to improve the health of all Americans.
Community Health Centers (CHCs)—The bill includes $1.5 billion for CHCs, which supports one of the largest safety net systems of primary and preventive care in the country. Combined with mandatory funding provided in the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015, the program level for CHCs is $5.1 billion, which is equal to fiscal year 2015. The bill directs the Administration spend no less than $200 million to create new health centers and expand critical services at existing sites, which will improve access to primary care in hundreds of underserved areas of the nation.
Family Planning Clinics—The bill includes $286.5 million for the Title X program, which provides comprehensive family planning and preventive health services to nearly 5 million people. This is level with fiscal year 2015, $29 million more than in the Senate Committee mark, and $286 million more than the House Committee mark.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—The bill provides $7.228 billion for the CDC, $278 million more than last year. The bill includes $70 million for state-based efforts to address prescription opioid abuse – more than triple the amount included in last year’s bill. Recent data indicate that drug overdose deaths spiked by seven percent last year, making this additional funding all the more urgent. The funding provided to CDC also includes $160 million for a new initiative to combat the growing public health threat of antibiotic resistant bacteria.
Administration for Community Living (ACL)—The bill includes $1.95 billion for ACL, which is $36 million more than in fiscal year 2015, to support older adults and people with disabilities live independently and fully participate in their communities. This includes $835 million for Senior Nutrition programs, $20 million more than in fiscal year 2015, to provide meals in community settings or via home-delivery to seniors who are homebound due to illness, disability or geographic isolation. The bill also includes $158 million for Family Caregivers programs, $6.5 million more than fiscal year 2015, to provide support services to family caregivers, such as information, counseling and training, respite care, and supplemental services.
Head Start—The bill provides $9.2 billion for Head Start, which is $570 billion more than last year, an increase made possible by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. The total provided is $378 million more than the House Committee mark and $470 million more than the Senate Committee mark. Included in the bill is $141 million for a cost-of living increase for grantees, which will restore enrollment to the 2014 level of 927,000 funded slots. There is also a $135 million increase to expand Early Head Start, which provides high-quality early childhood services for children and families from before birth to age three, including through Early Head Start-Child Care Partnerships. The bill provides an increase of $294 million for a “down payment” on expansion of Head Start to full-day/full-year services. Early childhood research shows that these expanded services are necessary to increase and sustain the impact of Head Start on child outcomes.
Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG)—The bill includes $2.761 billion for CCDBG, which is $326 million more than last year. The increase will help states implement the health and safety improvements required by the CCDBG Act of 2014, while maintaining working families’ access to quality child care options. This funding level for CCDBG was made possible by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015; it is $326 million more than the House Committee mark and $176 million more than the Senate Committee mark.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)—The bill includes $3.8 billion for SAMHSA, which is $160 million more than last year. This funding level was made possible by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, and is $137 million more than the House Committee mark and $319 million more than the Senate Committee mark. The bill provides an increase of $50 million for the Mental Health Block Grant, as well as an expansion from five to 10 percent for the set-aside targeting early serious mental illness. It also includes $47 million directed to addressing the burgeoning epidemic of prescription drug and heroin overdose: $25 million – an increase of $13 million – for medication assisted treatment in high-risk states, $12 million for naloxone distribution in 10 states; and $10 million for prevention efforts in up to 20 states that will build awareness of prescription drugs.
Children's Hospitals Graduate Medical Education (CHGME)—The bill includes $295 million for CHGME, $30 million more than in fiscal year 2015, to support freestanding children's hospitals’ training of resident physicians, enhance research capabilities, and care for vulnerable and underserved children.
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
Preschool Development Grants—The bill includes $250 million to continue funding Preschool Development Grants. These funds will support the third year of the four-year grants awarded to 18 states to help them implement high-quality public preschool programs for low- and moderate-income families. Both House and Senate Committee Labor-HHS-Education bills eliminated this funding which would have jeopardized states’ plans to provide high-quality early learning for more than 100,000 children, including nearly 60,000 children who would have lost access to public preschool entirely.
Title I (Education for the Disadvantaged)—The bill includes $14.9 billion, which is $500 million more than last year, for Title I grants to Local Education Agencies to improve education for low-income students. These funds support more than 80 percent of the 14,000 school districts across the nation and more than 23 million students. This funding level was made possible by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015; it is $500 million more than the House Committee mark and $350 million more than the Senate Committee mark.
Striving Readers Comprehensive Literacy Program—The bill includes $190 million, which is $30 million more than last year, for this literacy program. These funds will support new competitive grants to states for improving literacy instruction for children from birth through 12th grade. Current grantees have increased literacy proficiency using these funds. For example, one grantee’s literacy proficiency for disadvantaged students rose from 26 percent to 46 percent. This funding level was made possible by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015; both House and Senate Committee marks proposed eliminating funding for this proven program.
Special Education—The bill includes $11.9 billion, which is $415 million more than last year, for Special Education Part B grants to states. These formula grant funds assist states with the extra cost of providing special education and related services to more than 6 million students in the United States. Any funds for this purpose not made available by the federal government are provided by state and local taxpayers.
Pell Grants—The bill provides $22.475 billion for the Pell Grant program to maintain the maximum discretionary award level at $4,860 for the 2016-2017 school year. Combined with mandatory funding, the total maximum award is estimated to increase by $140 to $5,915. There will be approximately 8.4 million Pell Grant recipients during the 2016-2017 school year, an increase of more than 100,000 students compared to the current school year. This funding level was made possible by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015; it is $300 million more than both House and Senate bills.
Aid for Institutional Development—The bill includes $570 million, $40 million more than last year, for the Aid for Institutional Development programs, which are designed to strengthen institutions of higher education that serve high percentages of minority students and students from low-income backgrounds. The bill continues a provision allowing Title III and V of the Higher Education Act institutions to continue using income earned from endowments for student scholarships. This funding level is $26 million more than the House Committee mark and $56 million more than the Senate Committee mark.
TRIO programs—The bill includes $900 million for TRIO, $60 million more than last year, to help low-income and first generation college students prepare for and succeed in college. This increase will provide tens of thousands with more support to access and succeed in postsecondary education. The bill also includes a provision ensuring TRIO Talent Search and Educational Opportunity Center grants are awarded to institutions in a timely manner.
Student Loan Servicing—The bill provides $1.552 billion, $155 million more than last year, for the Student Aid Administration, to support high-quality loan servicing and administration of student aid programs. These funds will support the distribution of roughly $150 billion in student aid, and administration of a loan portfolio of more than $1 trillion for millions of borrowers. This funding level was made possible by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015; it is $105 million more than the House Committee mark and $190 million more than the Senate Committee mark. The bill also includes new language requiring that student loan accounts be allocated according to the quality of services provided by servicing contractors rather than arbitrary levels established by the administering agency, Federal Student Aid.
Adult Education State Grants—The bill includes $582 million, $13 million more than last year, for Adult Education State Grants. Thirty-six million adults lack basic literacy and numeracy skills and are not well-positioned to compete for living wage jobs in the 21st century economy.
Institute of Education Sciences (IES)—The bill includes $618 million, $44 million more than last year, for the IES which is the primary funder of federal education research, data collection, and analysis and assessment of student progress. These resources will enable IES to make grants that help educators solve problems of practice and to collect statistics and data about education in the United States. This funding level was made possible by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015; it is $208 million more than the House Committee mark and $55 million more than the Senate Committee mark.
Performance Partnership Pilots for Disconnected Youth—The bill continues to authorize Performance Partnerships that will provide states and local communities with unprecedented flexibility to improve services for disconnected youth. Up to an additional 10 states and/or local communities will be allowed to combine funding that they receive through various programs within this bill for pilot projects to provide critical information about how to better serve disadvantaged youth. The bill also requires that this year’s selection of pilots place a priority on communities that have recently experienced civil unrest.
Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS)—The bill includes $1.1 billion for CNCS, which is $40 million more than in fiscal year 2015, to help more than 5 million Americans improve the lives of their fellow citizens through its core programs to strengthen communities and foster civic engagement through service and volunteering. This includes $61 million more than last year’s level for the AmeriCorps program, which serves more than 25,000 locations across the country— including thousands of public schools, communities hit by disaster and organizations that help veterans, tribal nations and faith-based groups. This represents an increase of more than 6,000 AmeriCorps members who will help meet pressing community needs across the country, as well as provide a pathway to economic and educational opportunities for Americans who serve. The total CNCS level is $251 million more than the Senate Committee mark and $407 million more than the House Committee mark.
Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB)—The bill includes $485 million, which is $40 million more than last year, for the CPB. The additional funding provides initial support in fiscal year 2016 for CPB’s multi-year effort to replace its public broadcasting interconnection system. The satellite leases for the current public television interconnection system expire in 2016, and the public radio interconnection satellite leases expire in 2018. More than 80 percent of U.S. households watch PBS each year, while 34 million listeners use public radio.
National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)—The bill includes $274.2 million for the NLRB, which is the same as last year. The agreement rejects the ideologically-driven cut of $27 million in the Senate Committee mark and $74 million in the House Committee mark. The funding provided in the bill will allow the NLRB to maintain staffing levels and continue its investigations into unfair labor practices.
Social Security Administration (SSA)—The bill includes $12.162 billion, which is $356 million more than last year, for SSA's administrative expenses. In fiscal year 2016, SSA will administer approximately $1 trillion in benefit payments to approximately 69 million Americans; process approximately 5.4 million retirement applications and 2.8 million disability applications; and provide services to over 40 million visitors to its field offices and 43 million callers to its 1-800 number. This amount also provides increased program integrity efforts—$39 million more than last year, for a total of $1.523 billion—that are expected to save approximately $10 billion in the Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid programs. It is $344 million more than the House Committee mark and $541 million more than the Senate Committee mark.
The bill drops more than a dozen poison pill riders included in the House and Senate Committee marks that would have crippled efforts to protect consumers and workers’ collective bargaining rights, including provisions aimed at:
- The Affordable Care Act (ACA). The bill does not include new language restricting HHS’ authority to administer or enforce the ACA. The bill provides the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) with funding and program authorities that are consistent with those it had in fiscal year 2015. CMS is charged with administering Medicare, Medicaid and the ACA.
- Conflict of Interest Standards. The bill does not include new language that was in the House and Senate Committee marks to block the Employee Benefit Security Administration’s efforts to eliminate potential conflicts of interest that could reduce the retirement savings of participants investing in 401(k)s and IRAs. The Council of Economic Advisers issued a report earlier this year that surveyed available research and found that conflicted investment advice costs investors in IRAs and 401(k)s approximately $17 billion per year.
- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The bill drops a provision that would have required further studies of an outdated OSHA standard intended to protect workers exposed to respirable crystalline silica, which already has been established as a health hazard. The bill also excludes language that would have altered OSHA’s policy related to employee representation in walkaround inspections.
- Representation-Case Procedures. The bill does not include new language to prevent the NLRB from implementing its final rule to streamline elections and reduce the unnecessary litigation that too often delays votes on union representation. Earlier this year, the President vetoed a disapproval resolution passed by Congress, and in June a federal district court rejected an injunction request to block the rule.
- Bargaining Unit Standards. The bill drops language included in both the House and Senate Committee marks to prevent the NLRB from applying its test for appropriate bargaining units as set out in its Specialty Healthcare decision. The NLRB decision clarifies when smaller bargaining units can form within the same facilities. Since it took effect in 2011, the average size of bargaining units has changed little, which undermines Republican claims about the growth of “micro-unions.”
- Joint Employer Standard. The bill eliminates language included in both the House and Senate Committee marks that prohibited the NLRB from implementing a revised standard of what constitutes a joint employer. The NLRB’s revised standard, which was affirmed in the Board’s Browning v. Ferris decision in August, takes into account whether an employer exercises control over the wages, hours and working conditions of its employees indirectly through an intermediary. With more than 2.87 million of the nation’s workers employed through temporary agencies, the revised standard will ensure that more workers can negotiate with the entity that actually controls the terms and conditions of their jobs.
- Women’s Healthcare. In addition to protecting Title X funding, the bill does not include the House Committee mark provision to expand the exemptions already provided by the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court decision and the long-standing Labor-HHS-Education Weldon general provision.
- Gainful Employment. The bill does not include a rider proposed in House and Senate Committee marks to block implementation of the Department of Education’s Gainful Employment rule or any other higher education policy. Too often, students at career colleges are charged excessive costs, but don't get the education they paid for. Taxpayers are left with the bill as students at for-profit colleges account for 44 percent of all federal student loan defaults, but only 11 percent of the total higher education population. This rule seeks to address the issue by improving consumer disclosure so students can make informed decisions, and by increasing the accountability of institutions offering gainful employment programs. The final rule has been upheld by two U.S. district courts.
MILITARY CONSTRUCTION AND VETERANS AFFAIRS,
AND RELATED AGENCIES
The Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies fiscal year 2016 appropriations bill provides $79.869 billion in discretionary funding, $8 billion above the fiscal year 2015 enacted bill. As a direct result of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, discretionary funding in the bill is $1.1 billion over the President’s budget request and $2.3 billion above the bill reported from the Senate Appropriations Committee in May under the original Republican budget allocation. The increases were made possible by the enactment of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015.
The bill also provides $91.3 billion in mandatory funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). In addition, the bill provides $63.3 billion in fiscal year 2017 advance funding for veterans health care and $103 billion for fiscal year 2017 advance funding for the VA’s compensation and pensions mandatory accounts.
The Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies bill provides the funding to meet both the mission-critical and quality-of-life infrastructure requirements of our military service members and their families. It also funds a wide range of programs for America’s 22 million veterans, including disability compensation and pensions, medical care and research, and hospital and clinic construction. In addition, the bill funds four Related Agencies that support our troops and veterans: the American Battle Monuments Commission, the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, Arlington National Cemetery, and the Armed Forces Retirement Home.
The bill provides $71.4 billion in discretionary funding for the VA, $1.3 billion above the budget request and $6.4 billion over the fiscal year 2015 enacted level. Military Construction and Family Housing funding is $8.2 billion, $1.6 billion over fiscal year 2015 and $267 million below the request. Funding for the Related Agencies totals $283 million, $38.7 million more than the request.
Highlights of Military Construction and Family Housing
The $8.2 billion provided in the bill for military construction and family housing funds a range of projects to ensure military readiness and quality of life on military bases within the United States and around the globe. Projects funded in the bill include operational, maintenance, and supply facilities; hospitals and clinics; schools; and barracks and family housing.
Active component military construction: $5.96 billion to fund Army, Navy and Marine Corps, Air Force and Defense-wide military construction projects worldwide. The bill is $138 million less than the request and $1.6 billion more than the fiscal year 2015 enacted level.
Guard and Reserve component military construction: $551 million for readiness centers, training facilities and related military construction necessary for the training and administration of the Guard and reserve components. This is equal to the budget request and $124 million more than the fiscal year 2015 enacted level.
Unfunded military construction priorities: $222 million for the top military construction priorities for the Army, Marine Corps, Air Force, Army National Guard, Army Reserve, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard as identified in the services’ fiscal year 2016 Unfunded Requirements List and authorized in the fiscal year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act.
Energy Conservation Investment Program (ECIP): $150 million as requested. The Defense Department (DoD) is the largest consumer of energy in the federal government, accounting for approximately 80 percent of the total energy consumption. ECIP provides funding to improve energy efficiency, reduce energy consumption and invest in renewable energy projects and energy security at DoD’s facilities and installations.
Military Family Housing: $1.4 billion for family housing construction and improvements, $8.9 million less than the request as a result of the Army’s revised estimate of its housing operation and maintenance funding requirement. The bill is $213.7 million more than the fiscal year 2015 enacted level. These resources will continue to provide quality housing for the nearly 1.4 million military families currently served by the program.
Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC): $266 million for the Department of Defense Base Closure Fund, $15 million more than the requested level and $48.8 million less than the fiscal year 2015 enacted level.
NATO Security Investment Program (NSIP): $135 million to fund the U.S. share of joint U.S.-NATO military facilities. This is $15 million more than the requested level, and $64.7 million less than the fiscal year 2015 enacted level. The additional funding is to support responses to international threats and challenges originating from Russia, the Middle East and North Africa.
Department of Veterans Affairs
The bill includes $163 billion in total discretionary and mandatory funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs for fiscal year 2016. This includes $91.3 billion in mandatory funding and $71.4 billion in discretionary funding.
Advance Appropriations: The bill includes $63.3 billion in fiscal year 2017 advance funding for VA medical care, and in keeping with the commitment made in last year’s Omnibus appropriations act, the bill provides $103 billion in fiscal year 2017 advance funding for VA’s mandatory compensation and pension programs. This is the first time advance funding has been provided for mandatory programs and it will provide certainty that disability checks and education benefits will not be disrupted in the future.
Medical Programs: The Veterans Health Administration, including its research programs, is funded at $61.8 billion, $1.2 billion more than the requested level and $5.3 billion more than last year. Within this funding, major highlights include:
- Hepatitis-C Treatments. — $1.5 billion for groundbreaking new Hepatitis-C treatments, more than $800 million above the budget request level. With cure rates reaching almost 95 percent and a known population of over 170,000 veterans who have the virus, this additional investment will allow the VA to move aggressively to treat an increased number of veterans.
- Female Veterans.—$4.7 billion in total healthcare for the more than 268,000 female veterans who use the VA health system. This includes $446 million for gender specific healthcare. In addition, the bill includes language mandating that VA ensure that gender appropriate prosthetics are purchased and available for female veterans. To ensure that VA is on a path to provide services to female veterans, the bill also directs the VA to continue to train healthcare providers on treating and addressing unique health issues facing women; to conduct an internal analysis to ensure all medical centers are integrating the unique needs of female veterans into every component of the healthcare system; to establish support networks to assist female veterans in accessing healthcare, employment services, financial counseling and housing; and to provide semi-annual reporting to Congress on the VA’s mental health capacity to treat Military Sexual Trauma. In addition, the Department is directed to continue the Women Veterans Call Center and ensure that cutbacks in travel not apply to clinical training such as women’s health provider training.
- Caregivers.—An additional $50 million to the request for the Caregivers program, bringing total funding to $605 million. The additional funding is to meet the increased demand for the program, which provides stipends to family caregivers of post-9/11 veterans seriously injured in the line of duty, a national caregiver support line and caregiver support coordinators.
- Vet Centers.—$258 million for readjustment counseling at Vet Centers. This is $15 million more than requested and will support additional Vet Centers and mobile Vet Centers to address unmet mental health needs of veterans in rural and highly rural areas.
- Homeless Programs.—Fully funds the VA’s homeless programs at $1.4 billion. This includes the fully authorized levels for the Grant and Per Diem program and the Supportive Services for Veteran Families program. Additional funding in the bill is also available for increases for the Department of Housing and Urban Development-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program should the Department of Housing and Urban Development issue new vouchers in fiscal year 2016.
- Mental Health.—$7.5 billion for mental health services at VA. This includes $381 million for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, $612 million for substance abuse treatment and $144 million for suicide prevention outreach. In addition, the bill directs that not less than $19 million, $1 million more than fiscal year 2015, be used to support the National Centers for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
- Rural Health.—$270 million for the Rural Health Initiative. The bill also includes a provision allowing the Office of Rural Health to transfer up to $20 million to the Grants for Construction of State Extended Care Facilities program to ensure that the needs of rural and highly rural areas are met. In addition, the Office of Rural Health is directed to work with the Grant office to ensure that calculations used to determine priority take into consideration the unmet needs in rural and highly rural areas.
- Iraq and Afghanistan War Veterans.—The bill includes full funding of $4.9 billion to treat the almost 845,000 Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans who seek care through the VA.
- Traumatic Brain Injury.—$232 million in care for veterans suffering traumatic brain injury or other polytraumatic injuries.
- Opioid abuse. — To address mounting concerns about prescription drug abuse and an overdose epidemic among veterans, the bill directs VA to adopt the opioid prescribing guidelines developed by the Centers of Disease Control; to develop IT systems to track and monitor opioid prescriptions; to ensure all VA medical facilities are equipped with opioid receptor antagonists to treat drug overdoses; and to provide additional training to medical personnel who prescribe controlled substances.
- Long Term Care.—$7.5 billion for institutional and non-institutional long-term services and support. As Vietnam-era veterans age, VA must continue to make significant investment in adult day care, home-based care and traditional institutional care to ensure that the needs of aging veterans are met.
- Medical and Prosthetic Research.—The bill includes $631 million, $42 million more than fiscal year 2015 and $9 million more than requested, for medical and prosthetic research. This level of funding, coupled with support from the medical care accounts, non-federal resources and other federal resources, will provide an estimated $1.8 billion for veteran-related research activities. To ensure that prosthetic and other medical research is conducted in a manner to guarantee that female veterans’ needs are taken into account, the bill directs that the Secretary ensure that sufficient funding is utilized for gender appropriate research.
Claims Processing: In March of 2013, the VA reported that the disability claims processing backlog had reached a staggering 611,000 claims. It became clear that to solve this crisis the VA would not only need to change the way it does business, but it would also need to get better and quicker information from other federal agencies. To address this, in May of 2013, then-Chairwoman Mikulski held an unprecedented round table that included the Secretaries of Defense and Veterans Affairs, the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration, and the Deputy Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service. The outcome of this Roundtable laid the groundwork for better coordination between DoD and VA as well as new initiatives aimed at eliminating the backlog.
As of December 5, 2015, the VA reported that the backlog had fallen to 77,791 claims. While the VA and its partner agencies are to be applauded for this accomplishment, now is not the time to let up. Now more than ever, the VA must be poised to institute processes to ensure that a backlog of the nature experienced in 2013 never occurs again. To this end, the fiscal year 2016 bill includes $2.7 billion for claims processing, $173 million more than last year’s level of $2.53 billion and $10 million more than the request. This level of funding will provide support for an additional 770 processing employees, including 200 new appeals processors, 320 non-rating claims processors, 85 fiduciary examiners and 165 support personnel.
In addition, the bill provides $290 million for the paperless claims processing system, $141 million for digital scanning of health records and $26 million for centralized mail.
To continue greater national and regional progress in reducing VA claims backlogs and to maintain proper oversight, the bill maintains strict reporting requirements, including reports on performance measures for each Regional Office, quarterly status reports on training and corrective actions taken, and a future staffing level plan for each Regional Office.
Construction: Investment into VA’s aging infrastructure is essential to increase veterans’ access to services and benefits. To this end, the bill provides the following:
- Major Construction.—$1.24 billion for major construction projects. This includes full funding for all requested projects. As a result of past construction mismanagement and huge cost overruns on hospital construction, earlier this year Congress instituted a statutory requirement that VA must contract a non-VA federal entity, such as the Army Corps of Engineers, to be the design, construction, and management agent for all construction projects that exceed $100 million. Consistent with that legislation, the bill requires the VA to certify that an agreement for such projects is in place before proceeding with construction. The bill also includes an additional $100 million to the request to fully fund fees incurred from this new management requirement.
- Minor Construction.—Full funding of $406 million for minor construction projects.
- Grants for the Construction of State Extended Care Facilities.—$120 million, $30 million more than last year’s level and $40 million more than the budget request, to support grants to renovate and construct state extended care facilities.
Information Technology (IT): The bill provides the full budget request of $4.1 billion to modernize and sustain VA’s information technology systems. This includes $183 million to modernize the VistA electronic health record; $50 million for interoperability and the Virtual Lifetime Electronic Health Record; $253 million from the IT account for the Veterans Benefits Management System electronic claims processing system (this coupled with the $37 million provided for this effort in the General Operating Expenses, Veterans Benefits Administration (VBA) account brings the total to $290 million); and $19.1 million for the claims appeals modernization effort.
The bill continues to include language restricting the use of 75 percent of the VistA modernization effort until the VA demonstrates functional improvements in the interoperability of a system to seamlessly exchange veterans’ medical data among the VA, DoD and the private sector.
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC): $107 million for ABMC’s cemeteries and memorials overseas, $30 million more than the request. The additional funding is to support large, planned projects such as the Manila Visitor Center, significant repairs and refurbishing at the Normandy American Cemetery and other locations, and interpretive work supporting the World War I Centennial. In addition, the funds are to be used to ensure that ABMC sites have adequate and appropriate security.
U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims: $32.1 million for the Court equal to the request. The Court is an independent agency established to review decisions by the Veterans Board of Appeals.
Arlington National Cemetery (ANC): $79.5 million, $8.7 million over the request for ANC to address deferred maintenance and infrastructure repairs.
Armed Forces Retirement Home (AFRH): $64.3 million, equal to the request for the operation of the Homes in Washington, D.C. and Gulfport, Mississippi.
STATE, FOREIGN OPERATIONS, AND RELATED PROGRAMS
The fiscal year 2016 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs bill provides $52.68 billion in discretionary non-emergency budget authority to project U.S. leadership and protect a wide array of U.S. security, humanitarian and economic interests around the world. Of this amount, $14.9 billion is for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) in the frontline states (Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq) and other conflict countries as well as countries in political transition (including in Europe and Eurasia, the Middle East, and Africa) and to respond to humanitarian emergencies (e.g. Syria, Somalia, South Sudan). The bill is $3.4 billion above the fiscal year 2015 enacted level, excluding emergency funds for Ebola.
A summary of the bill is below. All comparisons are to the fiscal year 2015 enacted level or to the fiscal year 2016 budget request. Some dollar figures are rounded.
Strengthening Embassy Security
The safety of our diplomats, consular officers and aid workers is paramount. This bill provides a total of $3.4 billion, which is an increase of $1.85 million from the President’s request for diplomatic security, including the funds and transfer authority to continue implementing the Benghazi Accountability Review Board’s recommendations. The bill provides the Department of State the authority to utilize a best value determination for contracts for local guards protecting U.S. diplomatic facilities worldwide.
Bolstering Global Health
HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other infectious diseases are a constant reminder of the threats to the millions of Americans who travel, live, study and serve overseas, as well as here at home. Hundreds of millions of people in the poorest countries, especially children, die or suffer from debilitating diseases that can be easily prevented or treated. The bill provides increases for these life-saving global health programs.
- HIV/AIDS. A total of $6 billion to combat HIV/AIDS.
- Of this amount, $4.32 billion is for Department of State programs in support of the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR); $1.35 billion is for a U.S. contribution to the Global Fund, which is $244 million more than the budget request (without cutting other critical life-saving programs); and $330 million is for USAID’s HIV/AIDS programs.
- Polio. $59 million for polio prevention programs, which is $9 million more than the budget request.
- Family Planning/Reproductive Health. Not less than $575 million for bilateral family planning assistance, in addition to $32.5 million for the United Nations (UN) Population Fund. The prohibition on funding for abortion and involuntary sterilization is continued. A House provision to codify the Mexico City policy is not included.
- Maternal and Child Health. $750 million, including $235 million for the GAVI Alliance which is $35 million more than the fiscal year 2015 level for GAVI (without cutting other critical maternal and child health programs). These funds save thousands of lives in countries where easily preventable diseases, like measles, continue to claim the lives of hundreds of thousands of children each year.
- Nutrition. $125 million, which is $10 million more than the fiscal year 2015 level and $24 million more than the request.
- Malaria. $674 million to combat malaria, which is $4.5 million more than the fiscal year 2015 level.
- Tuberculosis. $236 million to combat tuberculosis, which is equal to the fiscal year 2015 level and $45 million more than the request.
- Pandemic Influenza. $72.5 million for pandemics and other emerging health threats.
- Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTD). $100 million for NTDs, which is $13.5 million more than the budget request level.
Supporting Economic and Social Development
The bill provides a total of $8 billion for economic and social development programs, in amounts equal to or greater than the President’s budget request, including for agriculture and food security, basic and higher education, biodiversity protection, water and sanitation, microenterprise, and women’s leadership programs.
- Democracy Programs. $2.3 billion to support good governance; freedom of expression, association, assembly and religion; human rights; media; and the rule of law. These programs help strengthen governments by enabling greater citizen access to information and political participation, and provide alternatives to radicalization.
- Environment Programs. $265 million for USAID biodiversity conservation programs that protect forests, marine ecosystems, and wildlife, and for clean energy programs to help reduce pollution and other negative economic and environmental impacts, and increase energy access and efficiency.
- Education Programs. $800 million for basic education programs to improve the quality of and access to equitable education; $225 million for higher education including new partnerships between U.S. and foreign institutions.
- Water and Sanitation Programs. $400 million, which is $17.5 million more than the fiscal year 2015 level, to increase access to safe drinking water and sanitation, improve water resource management, and mitigate conflicts that arise from water scarcity.
- Microenterprise Programs. $265 million to combat poverty by helping microenterprises (including smallholder farmers) access market opportunities, increasing the ability of lenders to target broader audiences with appropriate services, and helping stabilize income in vulnerable households.
- Programs to Combat Trafficking in Persons. $72 million to work with nongovernmental organizations, partner governments and others to prevent human trafficking, prosecute traffickers and provide necessary services for victims.
- Power Africa. $76.7 million to increase access to energy in sub-Saharan Africa, including by investing in public-private partnerships that connect American investors with local business.
Meeting our International Commitments
The U.S. Government is required by treaty to pay its assessed share of United Nations (UN) costs, which include UN peacekeeping missions the U.S. has voted for in Haiti, Lebanon, Mali, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and elsewhere, as well as our commitments to international organizations.
- Contributions for International Peacekeeping Activities. The bill provides $2.46 billion for U.S. assessed contributions to UN Peacekeeping missions, as a critical component of furthering U.S. strategic interests globally.
- Contributions to International Organizations. The bill provides $1.4 billion to support U.S. contributions to UN organizations, but does not include a contribution to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
- International Financial Institutions (IFIs). The bill substantially meets our commitments to the IFIs, including $1.19 billion for the International Development Association. There is $170.7 million for the Clean Technology Fund, $59.6 million for the Strategic Climate Fund and $168.3 million for the Global Environment Facility.
- International Monetary Fund (IMF). The bill includes authorization and funding to implement the IMF quota change and governance reforms agreed to by IMF members in 2010. There is no change in the U.S. financial commitment to the IMF. The quota change and reforms are needed to improve IMF effectiveness, and protect the U.S. veto power and leadership at the IMF.
- International Organizations and Programs. The bill provides a total of $339 million for voluntary contributions to UN agencies, including $132.5 million for the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and $80 million for the UN Development Program. A portion of assessed contributions to UN agencies is conditioned on transparency, audit and reporting requirements.
Supporting Key Allies
The bill provides substantial funding for key allies, including:
- Israel. As in past years, the bill provides the President’s request of $3.1 billion for military aid for Israel.
- Jordan. A total of $1.275 billion in economic and military aid for Jordan, in addition to humanitarian aid for Syrian and Iraqi refugees in Jordan.
- Egypt. $1.3 billion in military aid, subject to democracy and human rights conditions, with waiver authority for the Secretary of State and exceptions for counterterrorism and border security. $150 million in economic aid.
- Tunisia. $141.9 million, which is $7.5 million more than the President’s request, to expand economic growth, strengthen security services, support civil society and promote Tunisia’s continued efforts to improve democratic processes and the rule of law.
- Countering Russian Aggression and Influence. $525 million in economic aid for Ukraine, including for loan guarantees, which is $96 million more than the request, as well as $85 million in military aid, which is $42.5 million more than the request. An additional $50 million for regional military aid, which is $45 million more than the request. The bill includes $9.9 million to expand the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty programs in Russian to counter the influence of Russian media in the region.
International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement
The bill provides $73 million more than the President’s request for International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement, including to increase efforts to combat human trafficking; expand efforts to counter wildlife trafficking and poaching which threaten endangered species and are a source of funding for criminal organizations; and enhance the capacity of law enforcement and judicial systems in Central America and Africa.
Countering Terrorism and Violent Extremist Organizations
The bill provides $175 million for the Counterterrorism Partnerships Fund to support the Department of State efforts to strengthen the capacity of foreign law enforcement, and to facilitate a more integrated interagency effort to analyze threats and identify priorities for counterterrorism activities.
The bill provides a framework for assistance to stem the flow of foreign fighters seeking to join extremist groups in places like Syria as well as combat violent extremist organizations by addressing the underlying causes of radicalization, which includes countering extremist propaganda, strengthening the capacity of foreign governments to address the grievances of citizens and holding individuals who have committed terrorist acts accountable.
Responding to Humanitarian Crises
The bill provides funding above the budget request to respond to man-made, humanitarian crises in Syria, Iraq, central Africa, South Sudan and elsewhere.
- Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons. $3.06 billion for Migration and Refugee Assistance (MRA), which is $605 million more than the President’s request.
- Disaster Relief. $2.79 billion, $1.05 billion more than the President’s request, for disaster relief, and includes the authority to transfer up to $600 million to MRA.
- Central America. $750 million to respond to the surge of unaccompanied children coming from Central America to the U.S. The funds will be used to implement a U.S. strategy focused on border security and the reintegration of migrants as well as to address the causes of the migration, including programs to improve education and employment, support families, counter gangs and professionalize police forces in Central America. Seventy-five percent of the funds for the central governments of El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala is subject to certification that they have met certain requirements related to governance, corruption and human rights.
Support for the Frontline States
The bill does not specify amounts for Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, which Congress must be notified of, but includes conditions on the aid related to progress on democracy and human rights, anti-corruption, and the sustainability and transparency of aid programs.
Promoting U.S. Exports
In response to increasing economic competition from China and other counties as well as expanding U.S. trade with developing countries, the bill provides funds to promote exports of U.S. goods and services for the Export-Import Bank, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (extends OPIC’s authorization for another year), and the Trade and Development Agency.
Other Key Programs
The bill provides:
- $590.9 million for Educational and Cultural Exchange Programs, including $236 million for the Fulbright Program.
- $410 million for the Peace Corps, which is $30.5 million more than the fiscal year 2015 level. Peace Corps volunteers are in demand around the world and these additional funds will allow the Peace Corps to increase presence in additional countries.
- $22.5 million for the Inter-America Foundation (IAF) which is equal to the fiscal year 2015 level. In addition, authority is included to transfer up to $15 million from Development Assistance to IAF for technical assistance in support of the U.S. strategy for Central America.
- $30 million for the U.S. African Development Foundation which is equal to the fiscal year 2015 level.
- $901 million for the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), which is $1.5 million more than the fiscal year 2015 level. The MCC supports economic growth programs that create jobs in countries that meet key anti-corruption and poverty reduction criteria.
The bill also contains a number of general provisions intended to advance fundamental freedoms, strengthen civil society, and support U.S. allies, including:
- Asia Rebalance. Continues a framework for the President’s Asia Rebalancing Initiative to enhance regional partnerships, improve trade and advance human rights in the Asia and Pacific region. The bill also includes requirements to provide greater clarity in the funding requests to support the Initiative.
- Global Internet Freedom. The bill provides not less than $50.5 million for programs to promote internet freedom in countries whose governments restrict freedom of expression. Efforts include countering repressive Internet-related laws and regulations and enhancing digital security for activists.
- Human Rights. The bill maintains human rights conditions on a portion of aid to the armed forces and police of several countries.
Reforms and Reducing Government Waste
The bill includes reforms to address long-standing concerns about the effectiveness and sustainability of U.S. foreign aid programs, including:
- The agreement includes revisions to the U.S. Agency for International Development’s (USAID) “Small Grants Program” which provides small grants to small organizations that have not traditionally received USAID funding.
- The agreement continues a fiscal year 2015 provision to enhance the effectiveness of humanitarian aid through the collection of feedback data. The data is widely shared to improve USAID’s and other donors’ understanding of the needs and perceptions of beneficiaries.
- The agreement continues provisions designed to improve the quality, transparency and oversight of lending by the World Bank and other international financial institutions.
Reducing Waste, Fraud and Abuse
The bill includes several requirements designed to reduce waste and corruption:
- Provides funding for the Department of State and USAID Inspectors General (IG), including the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, and directs implementation of key IG and Government Accountability Office (GAO) recommendations.
- Continues limitations on the use of funds for conferences.
- Requires U.S. executive directors to the international financial institutions to require progress by borrowing countries against fraud and corruption.
Prohibits funding for programs in Afghanistan that are inaccessible for the purpose of regular oversight or that involve an individual the Secretary of State determines to be engaged in corrupt practices or violations of human rights.
TRANSPORTATION, HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT,
AND RELATED AGENCIES
The fiscal year 2016 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) Appropriations bill provides a total of $57.301 billion in discretionary budget authority – $3.53 billion more than fiscal year 2015 and $1.65 billion more than the Senate Committee mark that was considered before the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 was passed and signed into law. However, given reduced offsets stemming from a $1.1 billion decline in Federal Housing Administration receipts and a $2.3 billion increase in the cost of preserving existing rental housing assistance, the bill is only $131 million more than the fiscal year 2015 funding level. The bill also includes $300 million in disaster assistance for catastrophic flood events in 2015.
This bill provides funding for the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and related agencies. These agencies manage many of the programs that build our nation’s transportation network and support the housing and economic development of our communities. For DOT, the bill provides critical federal highway and transit grants that help commuters get to work, businesses get their products to market and families connect with one another across the country. For HUD, the bill funds necessary rental housing assistance programs and the Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG), which gives local governments the resources they need to develop communities, support businesses, create jobs and ensure the availability of decent, affordable housing.
Key Points & Highlights
As a result of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, this bill was able to restore funding for key transportation and housing programs. The bill invests in transit systems across the country and allows the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to make essential investments in its facilities and equipment. The bill also protects housing assistance for nearly 5.5 million low-income households, the majority of which are occupied by the elderly or disabled. Further, increases are provided for the Public Housing Capital Fund, the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, and the HOME program – the nation’s most targeted source of funding for affordable housing production.
- Federal Transit Administration - New Starts: The bill funds the transit New Starts program at $2.18 billion, which is $592 million more than the Senate Committee mark, $256 million more than the House-passed THUD bill, and $57 million more than fiscal year 2015.
Transit ridership continues to grow, but transit systems across the country are struggling to keep pace with this increased demand for service. The New Starts program supports major investments in transit infrastructure that would be impossible for local governments and transit agencies to finance alone.
According to DOT, public transit saves 4 billion gallons of gasoline, prevents 37 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, and saves travelers 646 million hours of commute time. Furthermore, every $1 billion invested in public transit supports about 13,000 jobs and creates $3.5 billion of economic activity.
- Federal Aviation Administration: The bill funds the FAA at $16.3 billion. This funding level is $270 million more than the Senate Committee mark, $426 million more than the House bill, and $563 million more than fiscal year 2015. The bill fully funds the President’s budget request for the FAA’s air traffic control, aviation safety oversight, and facilities and equipment.
- Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER): The bill maintains $500 million in funding for the TIGER program. This funding level is the same as the level provided in the Senate Committee mark and $400 million more than the House bill. The TIGER program distributes grants on a competitive basis to state and local governments for investments in roads, bridges, public transit systems, passenger and freight railroads and port infrastructure.
- Transit and Highway Grants: The bill’s funding levels are consistent with the increases included in the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST) of 2015, the surface transportation authorization act that passed the House and Senate on December 3rd. These new funding levels include $42.4 billion for the Federal-Aid Highway program, which is $2.1 billion more than the funding level previously authorized. The new funding levels also include $9.3 billion for the transit formula grants, which is $753 million more than the previously authorized level. These programs provide grants to State and local governments for local investments in roads, bridges, and public transit systems.
- Amtrak: The bill provides $1.4 billion for Amtrak, of which $19 million is dedicated to state-of-good repair investments in the Northeast Corridor. This funding level is $261 million more than the House bill and $19 million more than fiscal year 2015. The funding provided for Amtrak will help sustain a rail system that serves over 31 million passengers in over 500 communities throughout 46 states.
- Rail Safety: The bill makes significant strides to ensure the safety of our rail network and the communities that they pass through. Specifically, the bill funds the Administration’s three new safety initiatives for passenger rail, grade crossing and pedestrian safety, and the safe transportation of energy products. The bill provides the Secretary of Transportation with targeted investments to continue with a comprehensive array of prevention, mitigation and response safety activities for the shipment of energy products, including track inspections, research into the classification of crude oil and liquefied natural gas (LNG) tank car design, and training for emergency responders who are the last line of defense for communities to contain the impact of an oil spill and prevent damage to people, property and the environment. Further, the Secretary is required to finalize a rule on comprehensive oil spill response plans within one year.
- Rail Safety Grants: The bill provides $50 million for rail safety and infrastructure grants, $40 million more than fiscal year 2015 and $50 million more than the House bill. These funds will support implementation of positive train control and other safety technology systems, as well as rail grade crossing separation projects. Grade crossing accidents are the second leading cause of fatalities on our nation’s railroads.
- HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME): The bill restores funding for the HOME program to $950 million, $884 more than the Senate bill. This level is $50 million more than fiscal year 2015 and results in the production of more than 35,000 affordable housing units for fiscal year 2016. The HOME program helps states and local governments increase housing affordability through the building, buying, or rehabilitation of affordable housing. This funding level creates affordable housing opportunities where units are otherwise limited or unavailable to low-income families and individuals.
- Public Housing: The bill provides $6.4 billion in resources to support the operation and capital management of the nation’s public housing stock. The Public Housing Capital Fund is funded at $1.9 billion, $25 million more than fiscal year 2015. The bill also provides $4.5 billion for the Public Housing Operating Fund, $60 million more than fiscal year 2015. This funding level allows Public Housing Agencies (PHAs) to address more than half of the estimated $3 billion of accrued capital need for 2016, across the nation’s more than 1.1 million assisted households. This investment ensures PHAs are positioned to take the necessary steps to protect residents from living in unsafe, inaccessible and unsecure homes.
- Community Development Block Grant Program (CDBG): CDBG helps communities develop projects that meet unique housing, infrastructure and economic development needs and support job creation. The bill provides $3 billion for CDBG, equal to fiscal year 2015 and $100 million more than the Senate Committee mark. CDBG provides grants to states and local governments to support housing and economic development projects in urban and rural communities across the country. It can be used to address a variety of needs from revitalizing distressed areas to supporting small businesses, removing blight, or assisting seniors with home repairs.
- Choice Neighborhoods: Choice Neighborhoods is funded at the historically high level of $125 million, $45 million more than fiscal year 2015. This level of funding supports more than 12 neighborhood revitalization grants, allowing communities to take on transformation initiatives that redevelop severely distressed public or HUD-assisted housing and leverage private investment.
- Youth Homelessness: The bill provides $40 million in federal resources to address youth homelessness. Of the total amount provided, $33 million is for a pilot to develop and evaluate youth-centered housing and supportive services interventions. The bill also includes $2 million for a Department of Health and Human Services study on runaway and homeless youth, authorized in the Homeless Emergency Assistance and Rapid Transition to Housing (HEARTH) Act of 2009.
The bill also makes a number of reforms to assist HUD grantees in providing effective service delivery for youth, particularly among unaccompanied youth and youth-led families, who are at a higher risk of domestic violence, trafficking or other unsafe circumstances. HUD is directed to issue clarifying guidance on eligibility criteria for youth experiencing homelessness. Additionally, third-party documentation requirements are waived for youth who are seeking HUD housing assistance, but who are challenged to verify their homelessness status.
In an effort to build capacity of service providers and leverage federal, state, local, private and nonprofit resources, the bill also provides funding for a series of cross-federal agency trainings at the local level, in coordination with the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness and the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services. The bill authorizes HUD to participate in the existing Performance Partnership Pilot (P3) with the Departments of Education, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Justice, to develop innovative, cost-effective and outcome-based strategies aimed at disconnected youth.
- Disaster Assistance: The bill provides $300 million in disaster relief to help rebuild communities devastated by floods in 2015. This level of funding is expected to assist approximately 4,000 households composed of homeowners with flood damage and no flood insurance, and very low- to extremely low-income renters with flood damage. This funding can also assist with rebuilding small businesses and more resilient infrastructure in impacted communities.
- Truck Length (Twin 33’s): The bill does not include a controversial provision to extend the double truck trailer length from 28 to 33 feet, which would have lengthened commercial trucks on our highways by 10 feet. The provision was opposed by the State Highway Patrol Association and other law enforcement entities who argue that double trailers already increase the chances of a fatality in the event of an accident. Expanding the length of double trailers will only further compromise the safety of our roadways.
- DOT Draft Rule on Airline Tickets: The bill does not include a provision related to the online sale of airline tickets that had been included in the Senate Committee mark. This provision would have undermined large parts of a draft regulation designed to protect customers when they buy airline tickets. DOT’s draft regulation requires companies to display any fees that would be added to the ticket price, provide customer service and explain how airline tickets are displayed when a customer searches for certain types of tickets online. These regulations would apply to websites as well as airlines and traditional ticket agents. The Senate provision would have prohibited DOT from issuing a final regulation that included most online companies.
- Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH): The bill does not include a provision prohibiting HUD from implementing, enforcing or administering the AFFH regulations, as included in the House bill. The Fair Housing Act of 1968 provides protections for individuals based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability and family status. This provision would have prevented HUD from simplifying fair housing obligations for HUD grantees and providing communities with tools and planning support to successfully meet fair housing obligations. Further, this provision would have made HUD and their grantees more vulnerable to violations of the Fair Housing Act and lawsuits.
- Housing Trust Fund (HTF): The bill does not eliminate resources for the HTF or redirect its mandatory resources to increase resources for the HOME program, as included in the House bill. The HTF was authorized in 2008 as a mechanism for states to create affordable housing for extremely low- and very low-income families, and this provision would have eliminated the HTF as a resource for state and local jurisdictions to build and preserve affordable homeownership and rental opportunities for those families.
Contact: Mara Stark-Alcalá (202) 224-2667
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