WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez today voted for an omnibus federal spending bill that provides funding to rebuild our aging infrastructure while putting Americans to work; fights the opioid epidemic and funds mental health care and research; upgrades our crumbling veterans hospitals; provides affordable child care for working families; protects our environment and public health; and safeguards our democracy and secures our elections from Russian attackers.
“After waging an uphill battle against an increasingly hostile White House, I’m glad this spending agreement includes major investments in some of New Jersey’s most urgent infrastructure, health care, and security priorities,” said Sen. Menendez. “In the face of a petty, vindictive veto threat from President Trump, we kept Gateway alive and prevented the most impactful infrastructure project in America from being derailed by partisan politics. We stopped the Administration from gutting the Environmental Protection Agency and ending the BEACH grants so essential to a healthy and thriving Jersey Shore economy; we increased funding for Alzheimer’s research and community health centers, and made a long overdue, multibillion-dollar investment in the fight against the opioid epidemic.
“I’m also pleased we were to make new investments in school safety, clear a path for research into gun violence, and secure $146.5 billion to prepare Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst for the new KC-46 tankers. And despite President Trump’s refusal to hold Putin accountable, this legislation includes hundreds of millions of dollars for state-based election security initiatives and counter-intelligence efforts aimed at thwarting Russian cyber-attacks and disinformation campaigns in 2018.
“No spending bill is perfect of course, and I’m disappointed that at a time when crossings at our southern border have plummeted, this bill throws additional money at ICE while leaving hundreds of thousands of hardworking Dreamers across America out in the cold. At the same time, it fails to invest in stabilization measures needed to counter this Administration’s efforts to sabotage the Affordable Care Act and send health care premiums skyrocketing, and lacks bold investments in coastal resilience and mitigation that would save taxpayers billions of dollars before the next devastating storm strikes our shores. All of these priorities are essential to New Jersey’s future, and I will continue fighting for policies that put the health, safety, and well-being of New Jersey families first.”
The bipartisan agreement includes significant investments that benefit middle-class and working families, and several priorities for which Sen. Menendez fought:
INFRASTRUCTURE AND TRANSPORTATION
- Provides funding to move Gateway forward: In the face of a veto threat by the President, Sen. Menendez fought to include $541 million in Amtrak and transit formula grants. An additional $2.9 billion in New Starts and Federal-State Partnership rail grants was also included.
- Provides $250 million for implementation of lifesaving Positive Train Control, the absence of which was recently cited as a contributing factor in the 2016 deadly Hoboken derailment
- Provides $1.5 billion for the TIGER program, a $1 billion increase over last year’s level. The TIGER program allows communities to make transformative investments in their surface transportation infrastructure that address congestion, improve safety, create jobs, and expand economic opportunities nationwide. Earlier this month, Sen. Menendez announced an $18 million TIGER grant to replace the crumbling Route 3 bridge in North Bergen.
- Includes a provision by Senator Menendez that would prohibit large planes from landing at Teterboro airport, reducing noise and pollution.
- Provides an additional $1 billion in general fund resources for Airport Improvement Program grants for airport safety, construction, and noise mitigation, with a preference for small and rural airports.
- Provides a $2.55 billion increase for the Federal Highway Administration, including an additional $2 billion for the Surface Transportation Program.
FIGHTING OPIOID EPIDEMIC AND SUPPORTING MENTAL HEALTH
- Includes a total of $3.3 billion in increased funding to fight the opioid crisis and support mental health for Fiscal Year 2018, with an increase of $2.8 billion in treatment, prevention and research for programs within the Department of Health and Human Services, including:
- $1.4 billion increase (37 percent) to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), including $1 billion for a new State Opioid Response Grant program, with a $50 million set-aside for American Indian and Alaska Native tribes, a $160 million increase in the Mental Health Block Grant and smaller targeted increases throughout SAMHSA.
- $500 million increase for targeted research on opioid addiction at agencies within the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
- $350 million increase at the Centers for Disease Control for opioid overdose prevention, surveillance, and enhancement of State Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs;
- $415 million increase at the Health Resources and Services Administration to improve access to opioid and substance use disorder treatment in rural and underserved areas nationwide through Community Health Centers and workforce training programs, including an expansion of eligibility for loan repayment awards through the National Health Service Corps.
- $100 million increase within the Administration for Children and Families to address the needs of children who are affected by parental substance use. This includes a $60 million increase in child abuse state grants to enable states to improve plans of safe care for infants born with neonatal abstinence syndrome and other withdrawal symptoms.
- A three-fold increase in Department of Justice anti-opioid grant funding (increasing from $147 million in FY17 to $446.5 million in FY18) to help communities and local law enforcement fight the opioid scourge and provide treatment and prevention services.
- $500 million increase above last year’s levels at the Department of Veterans Affairs for mental health care programs (totaling $8.39 billion), including $186 million specifically for suicide prevention. Additionally, the VA will see a 16 percent increase over last year’s levels for opioid treatment, prevention, safety initiatives, and justice programs ($434.6 million total).
- $94 million increase for the Food and Drug Administration to significantly increase its overall capacity at International Mail Facilities to inspect incoming packages suspected of containing illegal drugs and to increase criminal investigation resources.
- A 10 percent increase from last year for the High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) program, increasing to $280 million, rejecting the Administration’s planned three percent cut. The HIDTA program provides assistance to state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies for areas determined to be critical drug-trafficking regions of the country.
- Provides a $10.1 billion increase for the Department of Health and Human Services, including $8.3 billion to fund the Centers for Disease Control
- Provides $49 million to address autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disorders.
- Provides Community health centers with an additional $135 million to expand services related to substance abuse.
- Increases funding to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) by $3 billion over last year to $37.1 billion.
o Includes $1.8 billion for Alzheimer’s disease research, an increase of $414 million over last year.
o Includes increases of $140 million for the BRAIN Initiative and $50 million for research to combat antimicrobial resistance.
o Every NIH Institute and Center will receive increased funding to support investments that advance science and speed the development of new therapies, diagnostics and preventive measures, improving the health of all Americans.
- Provides $1.1 billion for Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants (ESSA Title IV), an increase of $700 million. This funding can be used by states and schools in order to provide a well-rounded education, promote a safe and healthy school environment, and support the effective use of technology. President Trump proposed to eliminate this funding.
- Provides $2.1 billion for ESEA Title II, which provides professional development opportunities for teachers and educators, after being eliminated entirely in the Trump budget.
- Provides an additional $300 million for ESEA Title I, which provides financial assistance to schools that serve low-income students. The program is funded at a total of $15.8 billion.
- Increases the maximum Pell award to $6,095 – an increase of $175, the largest in eight years. Additionally, Federal Work Study programs got an increase of $140 million to $1.13 billion despite the Trump Administration’s proposal to cut the program in half, and Supplemental Education Opportunity Grants got an additional $107 million for a total of $840 million despite the Administration’s proposal to eliminate them entirely.
- Provides 21st Century Community Learning Centers, also slated for elimination by the Administration, with $2.1 billion – an increase of $20 million.
- Provides $1.4 billion for Impact Aid, an increase of $86 million. Impact Aid provides assistance to school districts for lost revenue resulting from federal activities, such as districts serving the Joint Base.
- Provides $12.3 billion for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Part B grants, an increase of $275 million.
- Rejects school voucher and privatization proposals by the Trump Administration
- Protects the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program from elimination by Trump Administration and provides an additional $350 million to address eligibility issues that left some borrowers out of the original program.
- Provides $30 million for the National Science Foundation to expand STEM grants for Hispanic Serving Institutions.
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT AND HOUSING
- Provides $3.3 billion for Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) an increase of $300 million from fiscal year 2017. CDBG funding supports homeownership, housing rehabilitation, public improvements, and economic development projects while encouraging local investment. President Trump’s fiscal year 2018 budget proposed eliminating this funding.
- Provides $150 million for the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, $12.5 million above fiscal year 2017. Choice Neighborhoods provides critical funding for the transformation, rehabilitation, and replacement of distressed public and HUD-assisted housing and supports communities working to revitalize neighborhoods of concentrated poverty. President Trump’s fiscal year 2018 budget proposed eliminating this program.
- Provides $230 million in grants for the Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes, $85 million above fiscal year 2017. This includes up to $185 million for lead hazard remediation activities and $45 million to address other health hazards, including radon and mold, in low-income housing.
- Provides $678 million for housing for seniors through the Section 202 Housing for the Elderly program, an increase of $175.6 million above fiscal year 2017. This funding will meet the renewal needs of this program as well as provide $105 million for the construction of over 760 new affordable housing units for low-income seniors.
- Provides $229.6 million for Housing for People with Disabilities, $83.4 million above fiscal year 2017. This funding will meet the renewal needs of this program as well as provide $82.6 million for the construction of 1,840 new affordable housing units for low-income people with disabilities.
- Provides $55 million for a national network of housing counselors that provide foreclosure prevention counseling, pre- and post-purchase mortgage counseling, rental counseling, and fair housing education.
- Provides $250,000,000 for the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund program, an increase of $2 million from FY17 funding levels. The CDFI Fund The CDFI Fund generates economic growth and opportunity in some of our nation’s most distressed communities by offering innovative programs that invest federal dollars alongside private sector capital.
ARMY CORPS OF ENGINEERS PROJECTS
Provides $86 million to fund all New Jersey Army Corps priority projects, including $449,000 for N.J. Back Bays Study, and $20 million for construction on the Raritan River Basin and Green Brook Sub-Basin.
Operation and Maintenance (navigation)
- $175,000 for Absecon Inlet
- $450,000 for Barnegat Inlet
- $200,000 for Cape May Inlet
- $380,000 for Cold Spring Inlet
- $605,000 for Passaic River Flood Warning Systems
- $435,000 for Manasquan River
- $220,000 for Raritan River
- $100,000 for Raritan River to Arthur Kill Cut-Off
- $10,000 for Sandy Hook at Leonardo
- $980,000 for Shark River
- $10,000 for Shoal Harbor and Compton Creek
- $10,000 for Shrewsbury River, Main Channel
- $980,000 for New Jersey Intracoastal Waterway
- $760,000 for NY/NJ Harbor
- $400,000 for NY/NJ Channels
- $9,300,000 for NY/NJ Harbor (drift removal)
- $25,300,000 for Newark Bay, Hackensack and Passaic Rivers
- $2,017,000 for Project Condition Surveys
- $15,000 for Delaware River at Camden
- $23,370,000 for Delaware River, Philadelphia to the Sea, NJ, PA, DE
- $15,000 for Inspection of Completed Environmental Projects
- $427,000 for Inspection of Completed Works
MILITARY AND CONSTRUCTION
Provides $158 million in Military and Construction funding for Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst ($146.5 million for JBDML for KC-46A refueling tankers and $11.5 million for Lakehurst – apron and taxiways)
- $146.5 million for JBDML for KC-46A refueling tankers
o $72,000,000 – KC-46A Two-Bat General Purpose MX
o $18,000,000 – KC-46A ADAL B2324 Regional MX Training Facility
o $17,000,000 – KC-46A Alter Apron & Fuel Hydrants
o $9,000,000 – KC-46A Alter Bldgs. For Ops and TFI AMU-AMXS
o $6,900,000 – KC-46A ADAL B1816 For Supply
o $6,100,000 – KC-46A ADAL B2319 For Boom Operator Trainer
o $5,800,000 – KC-46A Alter Facilities for Maintenance
o $4,100,000 – KC-46A Aerospace Ground Equipment Storage
o $3,300,000 – KC-46A ADAL B3209 For Fuselage Trainer
o $2,300,000 – KC-46A Add To B1837 For Body Tanks Storage
o $2,000,000 – KC-46A ADAL B1749 For ATGL & LST Servicing
- $11.5 million for Aircraft Apron, Taxiway and Support Facilities at JBMDL (Lakehurst) for the Marine Aircraft Group 49 (MAG 49) to expand the airfield parking apron to accommodate the home-basing of Marine Forces Reserve aircraft, and relocate several small facilities displaced by the apron expansion
REBUILDING CRUMBLING VETERANS’ HOSPITALS
Democrats secured an additional $2 billion in the Bipartisan Budget Agreement specifically for the Department of Veterans Affairs to address its hospital maintenance and construction backlogs:
- Funding for non-recurring maintenance of existing VA hospitals and clinics will almost triple compared to last year, totaling $2.8 billion. This funding will go a long way to reducing the more than $12 billion in code violations and deficiencies at VA facilities throughout the country.
- Minor VA construction projects will be funded at close to $1 billion. This will be used to help the VA fund minor construction projects that either correct deficiencies at existing hospitals or have been awaiting funding on the VA’s list of critical needs.
- Additional grant funding for construction of State extended care facilities will come close to entirely clearing out the backlog at the VA for needed construction and renovation at State Veteran long-term care homes. The VA’s priority 1 grant list totaled almost $640 million last year, yet the program only received a $90 million appropriation. Under the Omnibus, total funding will reach $685 million.
STRENGTHENING SECURITY AND DEFENDING OUR DEMOCRACY AND ELECTIONS FROM PUTIN’S ATTACKS
- Provides $275 million for the community policing program for which Sen. Menendez has fought for years. It also provides first responders with $350 million for Assistance to Firefighter Grant (AFG) program and $350 million for Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response (SAFER) Grants.
- $307 million increase above the Administration’s FY18 request for the FBI’s operational budget, which includes counter-intelligence efforts to fight Putin’s efforts to influence American elections in 2018 and beyond.
- $380 million to states for election technology grants to secure our election systems and voting infrastructure from Putin’s hackers.
- $26 million in new funding for the Department of Homeland Security for an election security initiative to help states and counties secure election infrastructure before the midterm elections through the deployment of sensors, penetration testing, and vulnerability assessments.
- $150 million increase above last year’s level ($250 million total), in addition to bilateral assistance, to counter Russian influence and aggression by promoting good governance, energy independence, and economic stability in countries under pressure from Russia, and ensuring our allies can protect their territorial integrity.
PROTECTING THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY FROM TRUMP’S CUTS
- Rejects the Trump Administration’s plan to gut the Environmental Protection Agency. Instead of the 30 percent cut, EPA funding will continue at last year’s level of $8 billion, with $700 million more for water infrastructure.
- Provides $9.5 million for BEACH Act grants which Sen. Menendez has fought for every year. President Trump, like President Obama before him, tried to zero-out these grants, which provide funding for coastal water quality monitoring.
- Provides increases for EPA’s water infrastructure programs, including $300 million increases each for the Clean Water and Drinking Water state revolving funds which will help supply clean drinking water and replace aging sewer systems.
- Provides funds for new water programs under the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act to support testing for lead contamination in schools and child care centers ($20 million), lead reduction projects ($10 million), and water projects in rural, small, and disadvantaged communities ($20 million).
- Provides $1.15 billion, a $66 million increase, to clean up contaminated Superfund sites.
- Provides $3.19 billion for the National Park Service, a $255 million increase over last year.
- Provides an increase of $150 million for National Park Service construction compared to last year, a 72 percent increase.
- Provides $425 million for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, $25 million above current levels, for preservation of park land and green space.
- Provides $2.1 million for the Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers which Sen. Menendez pushes for every year. New Jersey has all or part of four of the 13 rivers in the program.
- Provides increased funding for NOAA coastal habitat restoration programs, including $53.384 million for the Habitat Conservation and Restoration line, $25 million for the National Estuarine Research and Reserve System, and $30 million for Coastal Resilience Grants.
SUPPORTING WORKING FAMILIES & ECONOMIC GROWTH
- Provides an additional $2.37 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) program, the largest single-year increase in the program’s history.
- Provides $145 million, an increase of $50 million (or 53 percent) for apprenticeship training programs utilizing the flexible and effective apprenticeship model.
- Provides $2.8 billion for workforce training programs, an increase of $80 million. These funds are distributed to states and localities to meet each state’s unique job training and reemployment needs.
- Provides $1.7 billion for Job Corps, a $14.5 million increase. Taken together, the 126 Job Corps centers in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico comprise the nation’s largest career technical training and educational program for youth.
INVESTING IN SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT AT AMERICA’S UNIVERSITIES
- Increases funding to the Department of Energy’s Office of Science by $876 million (16 percent) over last year. This increase will fund more grants to universities, longer run times of research machines at the national laboratories, and significant investments in new buildings and upgrades of machines at the national laboratories.
- Increases funding to the National Science Foundation (NSF) research and education grants by 5 percent, and rejects the Trump administration’s proposed 11 percent cut to total NSF funding. This funding will result in nearly 1,000 more grants that fund more than 11,000 students, teachers, researchers, and technicians.
- The Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate receives a seven percent ($54 million) increase and full restoration of three critical laboratories that focus on biohazards, chemical threats and first responder technologies.