Continuing Resolution Keeps Federal Programs Afloat
By a vote of 372-56, the House of Representatives Wednesday passed a continuing resolution (CR) to provide partial funds for fiscal year 2009 for those federal programs for which a free standing appropriations bill had not been passed, including the Department of Transportation. The bill is part of a package that also includes three of the 12 annual appropriations measures Congress was able to complete prior to the end of the fiscal year, including Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, Defense, and Homeland Security Appropriations Acts for fiscal year 2009, as well as a disaster relief package. Fiscal Year 2009 begins on October 1, 2008 and the CR provides funds from October 1 through March 6, 2009. Under the terms of the CR, programs will be funded at their FY 2008 level. The Senate is expected to pass the measure by the end of the week.
Highlights affecting AGC members are detailed below.
The FY 2008 funding level for the federal-aid highway program is $41.216 billion and includes $1 billion above the SAFETEA-LU authorized level for a bridge repair initiative. It is anticipated that the additional $1 billion will not be included in this CR's partial funding, and therefore, the highway program will receive a prorated share of $40.2 billion through March 6.
• Disaster Relief Fund: $7.9 billion, to ensure that the Federal Emergency Management Agency can continue helping communities recover from recent disasters and ensure that they have the resources necessary to respond to future disasters.
• Community Development Block Grants: $6.5 billion, providing communities with flexible grants for efforts to help them recover from disasters, including providing temporary housing, repairing and replacing damaged homes and public infrastructure, and for economic development activities.
• Social Services Block Grants: $600 million, to provide states with flexible sources of funding to address emerging needs in the wake of disasters ranging from food assistance to urgent healthcare needs.
• Emergency Highway Relief: $850 million, to the Federal Highway Administration to help states repair roads and bridges damaged by disasters.
• New Orleans Levees: $1.5 billion, to allow the greater New Orleans area to pay the local cost share of hurricane and storm damage reduction projects over a 30-year period and ensure work is done by 2011.
• Army Corps of Engineers: $1.3 billion, to repair damage to infrastructure caused by disasters including the Midwest floods and hurricanes, protecting citizens across the country.
FY 2009 Defense Appropriations
The bill makes critical investments into the health, well-being and readiness of our forces. These recommendations address issues raised by troops, their families and Department of Defense officials in testimony before the Congress, and discovered through visits to military bases across the United States and overseas.
Bill Total Discretionary
• 2008 Enacted: $459.3 billion
• President’s Request: $491.7 billion
• Final Bill: $487.7 billion
• Barracks and Military Hospitals: $3 billion, $734 million above the President’s request to improve army barracks, military hospitals, and other facilities.
FY 2009 Military Construction/VA Appropriations
The Military Construction and Veterans Affairs bill addresses the critical needs facing veterans’ medical care as soldiers return from Iraq and Afghanistan.
• 2008 Enacted: $63.9 billion
• President’s Request: $69.3 billion
• Final Bill: $72.9 billion
MILITARY CONSTRUCTION: $25 billion, $649 million above the President’s request and $4.4 billion above 2008. The large increase is mostly due to the costs of implementing Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) and plans to increase the size of the Army and Marine Corps, including:
• Quality of Life Initiative: $233 million, not requested by the President, to continue a quality of life initiative for troops and their families started in the 2008 supplemental, including: $122 million for three new trainee and recruit housing facilities for the Army and Marine Corps to improve the barracks soldiers and marines live in when they train; and $111 million for medical military construction and planning activities to upgrade substandard medical treatment facilities. For years, service members and their families have said that quality of life issues are their top priority, but they have been neglected by this Administration.
• 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) and Re-stationing: $8.8 billion, $667 million above 2008, to implement base closures and realignments, and support the re-stationing of 70,000 troops and their families from overseas to the United States. The bill also funds planning for the eventual relocation of 8,000 marines and 9,000 dependents from Okinawa to Guam.
• Growing the Force: $5.5 billion in military construction and family housing, to support the Administration’s program to increase the size of the Army by 65,000, the Marine Corps by 27,000, and the Guard and Reserve by 9,200 personnel.
• BRAC 1990: $458 million, $163 million above 2008 and $65 million above the President’s request, to address an estimated $3.5 billion backlog in needed environmental cleanup for bases that were closed during the four previous BRAC rounds as identified in the most recent Defense Environmental Programs Annual Report.
• Military Housing: $3.2 billion, $292 million above 2008, to further eliminate inadequate military housing.
DEPARMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS: $47.6 billion, $4.5 billion above 2008 and $2.8 billion over the President’s request, for veterans’ medical care, claims processors, and facility improvements.
• Medical Facilities: $5 billion, $368 million above the President’s request and $769 million above 2008, including a $300 million increase for on-going maintenance and renovations of existing facilities to address identified shortfalls and to ensure the Department’s facilities remain capable of delivering world class medicine. The Department currently estimates a maintenance backlog of over $5 billion.
• Major and Minor Construction: $1.7 billion, $754 million above the President’s request, to fund recommendations made by the Capitol Asset Realignment for Enhanced Services (CARES) Commission, which was established to look at facilities and determine their construction needs. The increase in minor construction will enable the Department to complete over 100 projects in 2009.
• Extended Care Facilities: $175 million, rejecting the President’s $80 million cut and $10 million above 2008, for grants to states for construction and renovation of extended care facilities.
FY 2009 Homeland Security Appropriations
The Homeland Security Appropriations bill addresses our nation’s more pressing security needs, including implementation of the 9/11 Act and our need to prepare for disasters of every kind. This bill rejects the President’s proposal to cut $2 billion from the homeland security grant programs that keep Americans safe, including assistance for State and local law enforcement and other emergency responders to prevent, prepare for, and respond to natural disasters, terrorist attacks, and other emergencies.
• 2008 Enacted: $37.67 billion
• President’s Request: $37.62 billion
• Final Bill $39.98 billion
• First Responder and Port Security Grant Programs: $4.2 billion, $2 billion above the President’s request and $24 million above 2008. These grants were funded at $4.8 billion in 2004, but the President succeeded in cutting them from 2005-2007, even after the 9/11 Commission Report recommended they be increased and local communities continued to see security costs rise.
• Customs and Border Protection: $9.82 billion, $334 million above the President’s request and $398 million above 2008, including:
• Border Security Fencing, Infrastructure, and Technology: $775 million, as requested by the President, including $30 million to address problems with communications interoperability at the border.
• Container Security: $404 million within CBP, which is $29 million above the request, for programs including the Secure Freight Initiative pilots and overseas container inspection programs, and $514 million for Domestic Nuclear Detection efforts.
Maritime Security, Safety and Environmental Protection
• Port Security Grants: $400 million, rejecting the President’s $190 million cut and the same as 2008, for grants to protect critical port facilities and infrastructure, as authorized in the Safe Ports Act.
• Coast Guard: $9.36 billion, $290 million above the President’s request and $729 million above 2008, including an additional: $23.5 million for additional watchstanders, marine inspection staff and environmental response; $10 million to address aviation hour and maintenance backlogs; and $97.6 million to start work on the new Coast Guard headquarters at St. Elizabeth’s.
• REAL ID: $100 million, $50 million above 2008, to help states to comply with REAL ID, which requires state licenses to meet new standards in order to be used for federal identification purposes. This includes $50 million for DHS to develop a data "hub" that links state DMVs to other record-keeping agencies to allow State governments to verify applicants' identity documents when they apply for new driver’s licenses.
• Flood Map Modernization: $220 million, $70 million above the President’s request, to update, review, and maintain flood maps used to determine rates for the National Flood Insurance Program.
Offshore Drilling Ban: expires on September 30th; the White House rejected any language to provide for a responsible expansion of drilling in the OCS. All other laws and regulations concerning offshore leasing and development remain in place.
Auto Efficiency Loans: $7.5 billion to support $25 billion in loans to help American automakers to update their factories in order to build more fuel efficient cars and trucks.
For more information, please contact Marco Giamberardino at (703) 837-5325 or email@example.com, or Karen Bachman at (202) 547-4733 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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