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Source: United States House of Representatives – Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17)

Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey Praises Bustos’ “Tireless Work” for Illinois’ 17th District

With Critical Bustos Provisions Included, Five-Bill Appropriations Minibus Passes Full House

WASHINGTON – Today, Congresswoman Cheri Bustos (IL-17), a member of the powerful House Appropriations Committee, helped pass a major funding package out of the House of Representatives. The legislation is a five-bill minibus and includes the following Appropriations bills: Commerce, Justice and Science; Agriculture, Rural Development and Food and Drug Administration; Interior and Environment; Military Construction and Veterans Affairs; and Transportation and Housing and Urban Development. In this package, Congresswoman Bustos secured a sweeping set of provisions to benefit hardworking Illinoisans by including language that supports workers in Thomson, Pekin and Peoria; addresses the needs of veterans in rural areas; improves water infrastructure and broadband access; and protects local military projects.

“This appropriations bill promotes good government, responsible use of hard-earned taxpayer dollars and prioritizes federal investments in areas that need it most,” Congresswoman Bustos said. “When our veterans return from service, they shouldn’t have to overcome additional hurdles to access the care they need. And when families in our communities turn on the faucet, they shouldn’t have to worry if the water they drink is safe. Our bill also helps improve the lives of hardworking men and women in our region and cracks down on corruption so that taxpayer dollars aren’t used to enrich the lives of Cabinet members or Washington insiders.”

“We are fortunate to have Congresswoman Bustos as an advocate for the City of Rockford and for those who need help the most,” said Rockford Mayor Tom McNamara. “Her recent effort to increase funding aimed at youth is a testament to her strong knowledge of what is happening in her district and across the country. Consolidated Youth programs provide an opportunity for early intervention and offer hope and restoration to those in need.”

“The Quad Cities community is grateful for the support of Congresswoman Bustos and her diligent work in passing language supporting a multi-year extension of federal funds for the Quad Cities – Chicago passenger rail project,” said Jeff Nelson, MetroLINK General Manager. “This project is a top priority for our community, and one that will spur economic growth for the great State of Illinois.  We thank the Congresswoman for working across the aisle to support this extension and ensure the project’s continuing progress.”

“I thank Congresswoman Bustos for her tireless work to secure substantial funding in our fiscal year 2020 appropriations bills for veterans, rural broadband, water infrastructure, vital military construction projects, and many other priorities of her district and communities across the country,” said House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey. “Cheri will continue to be a valuable partner as we fight for investments to give every person a better chance at a better life.”

“Few people may recognize the far-reaching jurisdiction of the agriculture subcommittee. From food safety and agriculture research to rural development and nutrition assistance, the programs in this division touch the lives of every citizen on a daily basis. This is why we rejected the Administration’s draconian cuts to programs that assist our rural communities and vulnerable populations, and allocated more than $5.1 billion above the budget request, totaling $24.310 billion,” said House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Chairman Sanford Bishop, Jr. “Congresswoman Bustos understands the unique challenges rural areas face and has fought to invest in Illinois communities by improving both broadband and health care access.”

“This year’s transportation and housing funding bill, included in H.R. 3055, will benefit all American communities – urban and rural – and lay the foundation for economic growth and opportunity,” said House Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Chairman David Price. “It reflects the determination of Democrats to seriously invest in infrastructure and to give affordable, accessible housing the priority it deserves. It makes transportation and housing safer, addresses the pressing needs of our most vulnerable citizens, and mitigates and responds to the impacts of climate change. I thank Congresswoman Bustos for all of her tireless efforts on the Appropriations Committee to invest heavily in Illinois’ infrastructure and housing needs.”

BACKGROUND

Commerce, Justice and Science

Congresswoman Bustos included the following provisions:

  • An increase to the Bureau of Prisons (BOP) salaries and expenses account to support of federal workers employed by BOP in both Thomson and Pekin.
  • Earlier this year, Congresswoman Bustos wrote a letter in support of the City of Rockford receiving grant funding from the Consolidated Youth Oriented Program to build a new facility that serves children impacted by domestic violence. In this bill, these funds were increased by $9 million more than the fiscal year 2019 level – which ultimately could be used to establish a community response team to help the Rockford area serve the needs of impacted children and families.
  • Congresswoman Bustos previously introduced the Boosting America’s Exports Act – a bill designed to help small and medium sized businesses increase their exports and compete across the globe. Congresswoman Bustos inserted text similar to the Boosting America’s Exports Act into this funding bill, which directs the International Trade Administration to identify U.S. Export Assistance Centers who serve small and medium sized businesses and assist them with the export of their goods or services.

Agriculture, Rural Development and Food and Drug Administration

Congresswoman Bustos included the following provisions:

  • Language directing the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) to fill its vacant staff positions with permanent scientists to help the Peoria Ag Lab fully staff up. Earlier this year, Congresswoman Bustos worked across party lines with Congressman Darin LaHood (IL-18) to ensure the president’s budget included funding for the Peoria Ag Lab, after it was originally proposed to be eliminated in his first two budgets.
  • Direct the USDA to designate a Rural Health Liaison in the Office of the Secretary no later than 90 days after the enactment of this bill.
  • Language that reduces the Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) loan eligibility requirements from three years to one or two years if the applicant has other relevant experience or some combination of the two providing a boost to beginning farmers.
  • Helped secure $605 million for the Re-Connect program, which facilitates federal loans and grants to expand broadband in rural areas. The Appropriations Committee also gave a 50 percent increase to Broadband Grants and more than doubled funding for Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grants.
  • Increases funding for USDA Water and Sewer Loans and Grants by 31 percent, or $170 million.

Interior and Environment

Congresswoman Bustos included the following provisions:

  • An increase in funding for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF). Specifically, $1.8 billion is set aside for CWSRF, while $1.3 billion will go toward DWSRF. Both programs enable states and localities to make needed improvements to their water drinking systems to prevent lead exposure to children and families.
  • Funding to help protect water resources in rural areas and provide safe public sanitation.
  • $90 million in grant funds for the Sewer Overflow and Stormwater Reuse Municipal Grants – which were reauthorized in the America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 and help reduce sewer overflows and other storm water issues. At the end of last Congress, Congresswoman Bustos helped pass legislation to encourage green infrastructure development in cities like Peoria.

Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (VA)

Congresswoman Bustos included the following provisions:

  • Language that directs a report on the transportation needs of rural veterans and how the VA can help them. In addition, the bill directs the VA to spend $5 million toward a pilot program to address this issue and requires an analysis of the program’s efficacy to be included in the president’s FY2021 budget.
  • A required report on the hurdles the VA must overcome to contact hard-to-reach rural veterans and mandates a plan of action from the VA.
  • Report language regarding the lack of rural health care providers to bolster quality health care options for veterans.
  • Language that would block the reprogramming of funds for an expensive, ineffective wall on the Southern Border – protecting military construction projects affecting readiness across the country, like the new Fire Crash Rescue Station at the Peoria Air National Guard.

Other priorities of Congresswoman Bustos that were funded in the bill include:

VA OFFICE OF RURAL HEALTH – This bill invests $270 million in rural health initiatives, in addition to the language described above.

VETERANS’ MENTAL HEALTH – This legislation funds $222 million in suicide prevention outreach activities and $9.4 billion in mental health care services. This March, Congresswoman Bustos questioned Veterans Health Administration Directors and inquired about the VA’s use of less than 1 percent of a $6.2 million budget set aside to promote the suicide prevention services they provide.

VA CONSTRUCTION – This legislation also invests heavily in major and minor construction for VA facilities by setting aside $1.7 billion for improvements.

MILITARY FAMILY HOUSING – Congresswoman Bustos has a strong record of advocating for military families. This legislation will provide $1.5 billion to fund construction, operation and maintenance of military family housing for FY2020 and ensure over 2 million military families have quality housing.

Transportation and Housing and Urban Development (HUD)

Congresswoman Bustos included the following provisions:

  • A provision that would support a multi-year extension of the federal funding for the Quad-Cities-to-Chicago rail line.
  • $10 million for aircraft pilot and aviation maintenance workforce development programs to address the skills gap in the industry.
  • Language requiring HUD and the Department of Justice to work together and report to Congress on their efforts to prevent sexual harassment in public housing.
  • A provision that recommends carbon monoxide detectors in rental housing units that receive funding from HUD.
  • Establishes a pilot program to provide grants for state and local governments to identify and address sources of lead in drinking water in federally-assisted housing.
  • Funding for the Rural Housing Stability grant program, which will help address homelessness and housing affordability in rural communities.

The Congresswoman also cosponsored an amendment that passed by voice vote that would forbid Department of Transportation funding from being used in violation of federal ethics rules and prevent the use of public funds to benefit private purposes – especially one’s own family interests.

Other priorities included in the legislation are below:

SAFE, AFFORDABLE HOUSING – To help keep families safe, this bill includes funding for mitigation of lead-based paint, water and other hazards. It also includes $3.6 billion for Community Development Block Grants – a $300 million increase from last fiscal year.

ROBUST INFRASTRUCTURE – The appropriations bill increases funding for BUILD grants (formerly known as TIGER Grants) and invests in railroad improvements.

SAFE TRANSPORTATION – This legislation includes $1.6 billion for FAA Aviation Safety and creates a new Highly Automated Systems Safety Center of Excellence. It also includes funding to ensure that energy products are transported safely.

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