Isakson Highlights Georgia Projects in Senate-Passed Federal Funding Measure
Urges Senate to pass awaited funding for veterans, national defense
ATLANTA – U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., today applauded the Senate passage of H.R.3055, which includes important funding for agriculture, transportation and other Georgia priorities, while urging colleagues to end obstruction tactics to advance funding for other measures including for veterans, health care, water projects and national security.
H.R.3055 incorporates the Senate’s fiscal year 2020 appropriations bills for the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as well as the Departments of Commerce, Justice, Interior, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and environment and science-related federal agencies.
“While our government funding measures have taken too long to pass the Senate due to partisan obstruction, I’m glad to see this measure move through to support critical government funding for our farmers, national parks, transportation and other areas that make a difference in Americans’ lives,” said Isakson. “Now it’s time to end the political games and ensure veterans, our troops and our national security priorities receive the funding they need to keep America safe.
“Key Georgia priorities including our military bases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project need the assurance of full-year funding,” Isakson continued. “I urge leaders in the House and Senate to quickly resolve their differences so we can move forward with bipartisan appropriations bills, consistent with the terms they agreed to in the Bipartisan Budget Act this summer.”
The federal government is currently operating under the terms of a continuing resolution that expires on Nov. 21. Work continues in the Senate on the remaining annual appropriations bills, including a four-bill measure to fund our national defense, diplomacy, health and education programs, and energy and water projects.
Previously, the U.S. House of Representatives passed its version of H.R.3055, which included funding measures for military construction and the Department of Veterans Affairs on June 25. The two versions of the bill now move to a conference committee to work out differences between the packages passed in each chamber.
To date, none of the 12 annual appropriations bills has been enacted into law. Unless the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate can complete action on all 12 spending bills for 2020 before the Nov. 21 deadline, another continuing resolution will be necessary.
Isakson-supported provisions included in the agreement passed by the Senate today are below.
Agriculture and Rural Development
The package includes $1.128 billion for the Farm Service Agency for various farm, conservation and emergency loan programs important to farmers and ranchers. Of these funds, $35 million will be dedicated to assisting the implementation of the 2018 Farm Bill.
The package also includes $3.1 billion for rural development, including $1.5 billion for rural water and waste program loans, $6.9 billion for rural electric and telephone infrastructure loans, and $64 million for distance learning/telemedicine and broadband grants.
The package includes $42.4 million for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, an increase of $2.9 million above the 2019 enacted amount, including funding to help provide broadband access to rural and underserved communities.
Food and Drug Administration
The measure provides $378 million for Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act grants and $335 million for the SUPPORT Patients and Communities Act enacted in 2018 to help combat the epidemic of heroin and prescription painkiller abuse across the country. The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act included a number of provisions to specifically help veterans addicted to opioids.
The bill also provides $75 million as authorized in the 21st Century Cures Act to hire additional FDA staff to help speed up the agency’s review process so new cures can get to patients faster.
Interior and Environment
Earlier this year, Isakson-led legislation was signed into law to expand and protect three Georgia historic sites spanning the state: Ocmulgee National Historical Park, Fort Frederica National Monument and Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park. The measure includes $2.56 billion for the National Park Service and includes important increases for construction backlog, maintenance and new park units.
The U.S. Forest Service would receive $7.5 billion, including investments to better manage forests to prevent wildfires.
The Environmental Protection Agency would see more than $9 billion in funding focused on returning the agency to its core mission of environmental cleanup.
Housing and Urban Development
Following reports about lead poisonings and dangerous lead levels in housing on U.S. Army installations including Fort Benning in Georgia, potentially endangering military families, Isakson filed a bipartisan amendment in 2018 that was adopted to require the Government Accountability Office to report on the monitoring and remediation of lead and verifiable compliance with lead exposure limits in military housing. Today’s Senate-passed measure includes $290 million for the Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes and other relevant offices to combat lead hazards and protect children from the harmful effects of lead hazard poisoning.
The package also provides $56 billion for the Department of Housing and Urban Development, including $3.3 billion for the Community Development Block Grant program that has aided communities across the state of Georgia.
The measure includes $545 million for the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant Program to assist state, local and tribal law enforcement.
Science and Technology
The measure includes $1.04 billion for the National Institute of Standards and Technology, an increase of $53 million above the 2019 enacted level, to strengthen the U.S. cybersecurity posture through cutting-edge research and development, expand opportunities in the areas of advanced manufacturing, and continue promotion of the highest-quality standards to maintain fairness in the global marketplace. This includes a $5.5 million increase for the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership program, which is a private-public partnership present in all 50 states dedicated to serving small- and medium-sized manufacturers.
The bill also provides $22.75 billion for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to fund infrastructure for human spaceflight to support the accelerated plan to return to the moon by 2024 while supporting NASA’s science, technology development, aeronautics and education activities.
The National Science Foundation will receive $8.3 billion to support the development of effective science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs across disciplines.
Georgia has consistently earned funding through the BUILD competitive infrastructure grant program in recent years, and the measure provides $1 billion for national infrastructure investments through this successful initiative. Eligible activities include highway, bridge, trail, transit and port projects.
The measure provides $49.8 billion in resources for the Federal Highway Administration. This includes $46.3 billion out of the Highway Trust Fund for the federal highway program, an amount in line with the FAST Act authorization.
The measure provides $17.7 billion in total budgetary resources for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for air traffic control personnel, engineers, maintenance technicians, safety inspectors, and operational support personnel. The bill fully funds the Essential Air Service program for all communities as well as the Contract Towers program.
The measure also provides support to fund the replacement or reconstruction of aircraft facilities damaged beyond repair by Hurricanes Florence and Michael.