Sen. Chris Coons, the first Delaware Senator in more than 40 years to serve on the powerful Appropriations Committee, secured funding for key Delaware priorities in the first package of fiscal 2020 spending bills to pass the Senate.
Congress and the White House must approve a spending package by Nov. 21 to avoid a government shutdown.
The bipartisan package, which passed on a 84-9 vote, includes funding for Amtrak, housing and economic development programs like the HOME Investment Partnerships Program and Community Development Block Grants that communities in Delaware rely on, investments in the preservation of the Delaware River and the Chesapeake Bay, programs that support Delaware law enforcement, research grants for Delaware universities and the premier national biopharmaceutical manufacturing institute based in Newark.
“Delawareans deserve a government that’s able to fulfill its most basic responsibilities, and that starts with keeping the government open and supporting the programs that make a difference in our communities,” said Coons. “These bipartisan spending bills will provide more bulletproof vests for police officers in Delaware, expand initiatives to combat drug addiction, preserve clean air and water in our state and much more. There’s more work to do in the weeks ahead to ensure our government stays open and all of our key agencies and programs remain funded, but this is an important start.”
The Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies bill provides critical funding for law enforcement, economic development, advanced manufacturing, scientific research, cybersecurity, the 2020 Census, and more.
— Law Enforcement. The bill includes a $16.5 million increase in funding for the Community Oriented Policing Services Hiring program, which will place approximately 1,300 more police officers on the streets in Delaware and across the country. The legislation includes a $5 million increase to the Department of Justice Bulletproof Vest Partnerships Program, which saved the lives of two police officers in Delaware in 2013. DOJ has calculated that the lives of more than 3,000 officers over the past two decades have likewise been saved by this program. The bill also provides a total of $208.3 million in DOJ grant programs to address gun violence and keep Delaware communities safe, including funding to improve the quality of criminal and mental health records so interstate background checks are more effective and funding to improve officer safety though POLICE Act grants and VALOR grants.
— Combating Gun Violence. This spending bill provides a total of nearly $1.3 billion to fight gun violence and help keep schools and neighborhoods safe. This includes $131 million to the FBI, an increase of $24.9 million above fiscal 2019, to run instant background checks so legal buyers can exercise their Second Amendment rights while keeping guns away from known criminals. It also provides the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives a total of $913 million, an increase of $21.3 million more than the fiscal 2019 level to enforce gun laws, trace firearms connected to crime scenes and keep illegal guns away from traffickers and criminals.
— Economic Development. The bill provides an increase of more than $40 million for the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Administration. EDA awards infrastructure and planning grants to all 50 states. The $319.5 million provided for EDA will support more than 20,000 American jobs and leverage an additional $4.5 billion in investment. The bill also includes language secured by Coons to encourage EDA to establish a STEM Apprenticeship program to develop the country’s workforce.
— Addressing Addiction and Substance Abuse. The bill provides Delaware communities, including first responders, $505 million in grant program funding to fight substance abuse, including opioids. This includes $378 million for Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act and $12 million for anti-methamphetamine task force program.
Preventing Violence Against Women and Children. The bill provides $500 million, the highest funding level ever, for grants provided by the Office on Violence Against Women. It also provides a $5 million increase in funding to implement the Victims of Child Abuse Act.
— Manufacturing. The bill provides for the growth of the Manufacturing USA program, including funding for competitive grants to seed new future institutes, which are critical to keep the U.S. competitive in advanced manufacturing. The legislation also provides funding for NIIMBL, the nation’s premier biopharmaceutical manufacturing institute, based in Newark. The bill rejected the president’s attempts to defund the Manufacturing Extension Partnership program, and has increased its funding so it can carry out its important mission and further support small manufacturers with new cybersecurity and digitalization challenges. For every $1 of federal investment, MEP generates more than $27 in new sales growth for manufacturers.
— Census. The bill provides $7.6 billion for the Census Bureau, an increase of $3.7 billion above the fiscal 2019 enacted amount and $1.4 billion above the president’s proposal. The bill included Coons’ amendment that will put pressure on the Census Bureau to step up its outreach and engagement with hard-to-count communities, often disenfranchised minority communities, for the 2020 Census.
— Science and Research. The bill rejects the administration’s request to cut funding for climate, weather, and oceans research at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration by 41%. Additionally, the bill provides strong funding for the National Science Foundation, including the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, which bolsters investment in groundbreaking research in Delaware and across the country. The bill also includes other priorities of universities across Delaware, including the NOAA Sea Grant program, NASA Space Grant program and strong funding for NASA heliophysics research and Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope development.
Conservation. The bill funds several NOAA programs that help Delaware promote coastal security and climate resilience, including Coastal Zone Management Grants, the National Oceans and Coastal Security Fund, and the National Estuarine Research Reserve System. The bill also directs the DOJ to provide dedicated resources for investigating and prosecuting wildlife trafficking and calls for funding for an important horseshoe crab trawl survey.
— Safe Navigation. The bill provides $7.5 million for the NOAA Physical Oceanographic Real Time Systems program, an increase above the fiscal 2019 enacted amount. This program supports real-time data that helps vessels safely navigate the Delaware River.
The Interior, Environment and Related Agencies bill provides key funding for the Department of the Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency and other agencies to protect Delaware’s air and water, help preserve land and wildlife habitat and support cultural and recreational opportunities.
— Delaware River Basin Restoration Program. The bill includes $6.5 million for the Delaware River Basin Restoration Program. The basin is home to more than 8 million people in five states and provides clean drinking water for more than 15 million people. This funding is vitally important for ensuring the health of the Delaware River watershed and the agriculture, recreation, and other economic benefits that come from it.
— Chesapeake Bay. The bill includes $76 million for the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program and $3 million for the National Park Service’s Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network. These programs help protect water quality in the Chesapeake Bay and provide recreational opportunities throughout the region.
— Conservation. The bill includes $29.8 million for the National Estuary Program, which will help support Delaware’s two national estuaries, the Partnership for the Delaware Estuary and the Delaware Center for the Inland Bays. The bill also provides funding for conservation programs, such as the North American Wetlands Conservation Act and the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which both help protect open space and wildlife habitat in Delaware.
— Protecting Drinking Water. The bill continues steady funding for the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds, including $1.13 billion for drinking water and $1.64 billion for clean water. The bill also provides $29 million for lead contamination testing at schools and child care centers, $20 million for lead reduction projects in rural areas, and $26 million for water projects in communities working to improve Safe Drinking Water Act compliance.
— Arts & Culture Programs. The bill provides $157 million each to the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities, an increase of $2 million for each endowment than the fiscal 2019 enacted level, rejecting the administration’s proposal to end these programs.
The Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies bill supports rural areas in Delaware and provides funding for the Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration to continue their work on food safety, product safety, research and nutrition programs.
— U.S. Department of Agriculture. The spending package maintains funding for important USDA programs, including $87 million for the Economic Research Service, $1.5 billion for the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, $425 million for the Agricultural and Food Research Initiative, and $64 million for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, which play vital roles in enhancing agricultural production, research, sustainability and safety. The bill also provides $63 million for USDA’s Avian Health program, which is important to Delaware’s chicken industry.
— Conservation. This bill also builds on the successes of the farm bill passed last year by maintaining support for agricultural conservation programs such as the Conservation Stewardship Program, Environmental Quality Incentive Program and the Regional Conservation Partnership Program. These programs offer crucial tools to help farmers in Delaware and around the country protect water quality, preserve land and enhance wildlife habitats.
— Rural Development. The bill rejects the administration’s ill-conceived proposal to eliminate many of USDA’s rural housing programs. It provides robust funding for rural health insurance loans, including $1 billion for direct loans, $30 million for self-help housing, $40 million for rental housing loans and $27.5 million for Farm Labor Housing Loans. The bill also provides $950 million in business and industry loans that promote job creation and income generation in rural areas. The bill also sustains funding to continue to develop rural broadband.
— Nutrition. This bill funds programs that are an important safety net for some of the most vulnerable Americans, including Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The bill also provides a more than $400 million increase for the National School Lunch Program.
The Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies bill addresses the housing affordability crisis in America and sustains funding to invest in the nation’s infrastructure.
— Amtrak and Transportation. The legislation includes a modest increase in funding for Amtrak to $2 billion, including $680 million for the Northeast Corridor. The bill rejects the president’s proposed $3.58 billion cut to Department of Transportation programs, allowing for the strong sustainment of investments in transportation projects that address congestion and improve the overall safety and infrastructure of the nation’s roads, bridges and railways.
— Housing and Community Development. This bill rejects the president’s budget proposal to cut $11.96 billion in important housing programs at a time when Americans are experiencing skyrocketing rents, wage stagnation and a shortage of affordable housing. This bill instead provides strong funding for the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s affordable housing and economic development programs, including $1.25 billion for the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, $3.325 billion for the Community Development Block Grant program, and rental assistance programs that communities in Delaware rely on. This bill provides $100 million for the HUD Choice Neighborhood grants, which benefit the Wilmington Housing Authority and REACH Riverside.
— Infrastructure. The bill provides $1 billion for national infrastructure investments through the BUILD program.