Rep. Waters Announces FY2018 Appropriations Letters & Omnibus Accomplishments
Rep. Waters Announces FY2018 Appropriations Letters & Omnibus Accomplishments
WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43), Ranking Member of the House Financial Services Committee, released the following statement on the passage of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Omnibus Appropriations Act, which provides substantial federal funding increases to many of her legislative priorities through September 30, 2018, the end of the current fiscal year:
“After intense, months-long negotiations by Congressional leaders, I am pleased that the U.S. Congress reached a bipartisan agreement on the FY 2018 Omnibus Appropriations Act, which was signed into law by the president ahead of the government funding deadline.
“While the FY 2018 Omnibus Appropriations Act is not perfect, this $1.3 trillion omnibus package increases domestic spending by $52 billion in sharp contrast to the Trump Administration’s morally bankrupt fiscal year 2018 budget request. The omnibus bill makes substantial federal investments in Alzheimer’s care and research, community health centers, infrastructure improvements, job training, public education, and housing programs – all of which were priorities for which I strongly advocated during the appropriations process. The budget also includes an increase in defense and veterans’ spending, which will support veterans, military families, and local defense contractors in the 43rd Congressional District.
“However, I am deeply disappointed that this omnibus does not provide a permanent solution for the nearly 800,000 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program recipients. Throughout this process, Donald Trump and Congressional Republicans failed to support, or give sincere consideration to, the DACA proposals put forth by Democratic negotiators. Instead of prioritizing young people who were brought to America as children, innocent of any wrongdoing, and have since registered with the government, undergone background checks, and paid taxes, Donald Trump and the Republican majority were more concerned with building a ridiculous wall along our southern border and with their ongoing pursuit of a bigoted and anti-immigrant agenda.
“Though this bill is far from perfect, I applaud my Democratic colleagues for all of their hard work, and I will continue to work with them to fight for programs that improve the lives of working families, seniors, veterans, and other vulnerable communities.”
During the fiscal year 2018 appropriations process, Congresswoman Waters drafted and led her colleagues in submitting letters to the House Appropriations Committee requesting increases in funding for the TIGER transportation grants program, Federal Pell Grants, Alzheimer’s research, affordable housing, and Six-Day Mail Delivery. Many of the requests led by Congresswoman Waters received bipartisan support in the U.S. Congress. She also signed requests to the House Appropriations Committee requesting funding for several priorities, including job creation, job training, education, infrastructure, health care, and veterans’ benefits.
A list of Congresswoman Waters’ fiscal year 2018 appropriations requests that were included in the FY 2018 Omnibus Appropriations Act is below:
- TIGER GRANTS PROGRAM: Rep. Waters led 139 other Members of Congress in requesting that FY 2018 funding for TIGER grants, which fund investments in transportation infrastructure by states and local transit agencies (e.g. Metro), be more than doubled over the FY 2017 funding level of $500 million. The Omnibus includes $1.5 billion for TIGER.
- YOUTHBUILD: Rep. Waters requested that the YouthBuild program, which offers career development, job skills training, and mentoring to youth from underserved communities, have at least the same funding, or more, as the prior fiscal year. The Omnibus increased YouthBuild funding by $5 million, to a total of $89.5 million
- PELL GRANTS: Rep. Waters led 89 other Members of Congress in requesting an expansion of the Pell Grant program, the largest education grant in the country. She also previously introduced legislation to prevent cuts to the Pell Grant Surplus, an account which ensures that Pell Grants continue for future generations. The Omnibus increased the Pell Grant award by $175 per student, and added $1.3 billion dollars into the Pell Grant Surplus account.
- HEAD START: Rep. Waters requested that the Head Start program, which provides early childhood education, health, nutrition, and other services to low-income youth, have at least the same funding, or more, as the prior fiscal year. The Omnibus does just that, increasing Head Start funding by $610 million, to a total of $9.9 billion.
- ALZHEIMER’S RESEARCH: Rep. Waters led 103 other Members of Congress in requesting a $414 million increase in funding for Alzheimer’s research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), for a total of $1.828 billion on FY 2018, and the Omnibus includes exactly $1.828 for this purpose.
- COMMUNITY HEALTH CENTERS: Rep. Waters requested continued support for Community Health Centers in FY 2018, and the Omnibus includes $1.6 billion in discretionary funding for Community Health Centers, which is $135 million more than the FY 2017 level. Combined with $3.8 billion in mandatory funding, total funding for Community Health Centers is $5.4 billion, which is $335 million more than the FY 2017 level.
- NURSING EDUCATION: Rep. Waters requested robust funding for the Nursing Workforce Development Program, and the Omnibus provides an increase of $20 million for nursing education and training in FY 2018.
- RYAN WHITE HIV/AIDS CARE: Rep. Waters requested continued strong funding for the Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program, and the Omnibus includes $2.3 billion in FY 2018, which is the same as the FY 2017 level.
- FAMILY PLANNING: Rep. Waters requested continued strong funding for the Title X Family Planning program, and the Omnibus includes $286 million in FY 2018, which is the same as the FY 2017 level.
- KEVIN AND AVONTE’S LAW: Rep. Waters is a leading co-author of Kevin and Avonte’s Law (H.R. 4221), a bipartisan bill to help local communities and law enforcement officials locate missing Americans, especially seniors affected by Alzheimer’s disease and children affected by autism, Down syndrome, and other developmental disabilities. This bill was included in the Omnibus and is now law.
- PUBLIC HOUSING – Rep. Waters requested robust funding to cover 100 percent of needs for the public housing program, a program that provides housing for 1.1 million low-income families, including seniors, veterans, persons with disabilities, and families with children. While the omnibus did not include funding for the full estimate of annual needs for the program, it did include an $808 million increase for the Public Housing Capital Fund compared to FY17 enacted levels in order to address major repairs of public housing units.
- SECTION 8 TENANT-BASED RENTAL ASSISTANCE – Rep. Waters requested full funding to address 100 percent of needs for the Section 8 Tenant-Based Rental Assistance (TBRA) program, also known as the Housing Choice Voucher (HCV) program. Similar to the public housing program, the Section 8 HCV and PBRA programs provide much needed housing assistance to a total of 3.6 million low-income households, over half of whom are elderly or persons with disabilities. The omnibus included this funding, though did not markedly increase the Administrative Fees necessary for public housing authorities, as requested.
- SECTION 8 PROJECT-BASED RENTAL ASSISTANCE – Rep. Waters requested full funding to cover all existing Project-Based Rental Assistance (PBRA) contracts. Similar to the public housing program, the Section 8 HCV and PBRA programs provide much needed housing assistance to a total of 3.6 million low-income households, over half of whom are elderly or persons with disabilities. The omnibus included this funding.
- 202 HOUSING FOR THE ELDERLY – Rep. Waters requested full funding to cover all existing contracts for the 202 Housing for the Elderly program, plus an additional $25 million to create new units of deeply affordable housing for this population. The omnibus included a $176 million increase in this account, a large portion of which will go to construct new units, as requested.
- 811 HOUSING FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES – Rep. Waters requested full funding to cover all existing contracts for the Section 811 Housing for Persons with Disabilities program, plus an additional $25 million to create new units of deeply affordable housing for this population. The omnibus included an $85 million increase in this account, a large portion of which will go to construct new units, as requested.
- HOMELESS ASSISTANCE GRANTS – Rep. Waters requested full funding to cover all existing contracts for HUD’s Homeless Assistance grants, plus an additional $5 billion in emergency funding pursuant to section 251(b)(2)(A) of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 as amended. Rep. Waters requested this additional emergency relief funding to begin to address the over 550,000 Americans who are homeless in this country. While the omnibus did include enough funding to cover all existing homeless assistance contracts, it did not include any emergency funding above that.
- COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT BLOCK GRANT – Rep. Waters requested at least $3.3 billion for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, a successful program that provides communities with resources to address a wide range of unique community development needs. The omnibus included $3.365 billion for CDBG, an increase of over $300 million from the FY17 enacted level.
- NEIGHBORHOOD REINVESTMENT CORPORATION – Rep. Waters requested $135 million for the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation (also known as Neighborworks America), a network of more than 245 independent, nonprofit organizations that help individuals, families and communities thrive through comprehensive approaches to affordable housing and community development. The omnibus funding this program at $140 million.
- RURAL DEVELOPMENT VOUCHER PROGRAM – Rep. Waters requested a minimum of $25.7 million for the Rural Development Voucher Program, a program within the U.S. Department of Agriculture that a rental subsidy program that offers protection to eligible housing tenants in multi-family properties financed through Rural Development Section 515 Rural Rental Housing Program who may face hardship through the prepayment or foreclosure of the mortgage loan on the property. The omnibus funded the program at $25 million, just below what was requested.
- RURAL HOUSING SECTION 514 and 515 PROGRAMS, AND THE MULTIFAMILY PRESERVATION AND REVITALIZATION DEMO - The Section 515 and 514 programs are used to rehabilitate aging properties in rural communities but have been subject to substantial cuts over the years. The Multifamily Preservation & Revitalization Demonstration (MPR) also helps preserve and improve Section 515 and 514 properties through loan restructuring, grants for non-profits, no interest loans, and debt deferral. Rep. Waters requested $40 million for the Section 515 program, $23.8 million for the Section 514 program, and $25 million for the MPR demonstration program. The omnibus included her request of $40 million for the 515 program, $23 million for the 514 program (just below what was requested), and $22 million for the MPR demonstration (just below what was requested).
- INTERNATIONAL FAMILY PLANNING: Rep. Waters requested continued strong funding for international family planning and reproductive health, and the Omnibus includes $575 million in FY 2018, which is the same as the FY 2017 level.
- CARIBBEAN: As a Co-Chair of the Congressional Caribbean Caucus, Rep. Waters requested continued strong funding for the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative, and the Omnibus includes $58 million in FY 2018, which is the same as the FY 2017 level.
- HAITI: As a long-time friend of the people of Haiti, Rep. Waters advocated for an international response to the cholera epidemic that United Nations peacekeepers introduced into Haiti in 2010. The Omnibus includes $10 million in FY 2018 to assist communities in Haiti affected by cholera.
- JUSTICE REINVESTMENT INITIATIVE: Rep. Waters requested continued support and funding for the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, which supports states in developing targeted, data-driven criminal justice policies to realign resources, maximize their impact, and promote cost savings and safer communities. The Omnibus includes $25,000,000 in continued funding for that program.
- MINORITY BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT AGENCY: Rep. Waters requested continued support and funding for the Minority Business Development Agency, which works to advance the growth of minority business through activities such as helping them access capital, contracts and new markets through public-private engagement. The agency has helped clients access nearly $36 billion in capital and contracts and create or retain over 124,000 jobs. Although Donald Trump proposed eliminating the agency, the FY 2018 Omnibus included $39,000,000 for that agency's continued operation.
U.S. Postal Service
- SIX-DAY MAIL DELIVERY: Rep. Waters led 54 Members of Congress to request that 6-day mail delivery continue. In 2012, the Postmaster General sought to revise the USPS’s delivery to eliminate one day of mail delivery by ending Saturday mail service. The Omnibus directed that “6-day delivery and rural delivery of mail shall continue.”
Labor & Worker Protection
- WAGE AND HOUR PROTECTION: Rep. Waters requested that the division of the Wage and Hour Division of the Department of Labor, which enforces federal minimum wage, overtime pay, and child labor requirements of the Fair Labor Standards Act, as well as the Family and Medical Leave Act, among other employment standards, be fully funded with $340,070,000, in order to ensure this agency has the resources it need to update overtime laws, go after wage-theft violations, and enforce minimum wage laws, among its many other responsibilities. Although, not fully funded, the Omnibus included $227,500,000 for that division to, at least, maintain funding at the previous fiscal year level.
- EMPLOYEE BENEFITS SECURITY: Rep. Waters requested that the Employee Benefits Security Administration, which assures the security of the retirement, health and other workplace related benefits of America's workers and their families, be fully funded at a level of $269,968,000 to support this agency in safeguarding the benefits of millions of Americans and retirees. Although, that agency was not fully funded, the Omnibus included $181,000,000 for that agency to, at least, maintain funding at the previous fiscal year level.
- WORKERS’ COMPENSATION: Rep. Waters requested that the Department of Labor Office of Workers' Compensation, which administers disability compensation programs that provide wage replacement benefits, medical treatment, vocational rehabilitation and other benefits to workers or their dependents who experience work-related injury or occupational disease, be fully funded at a level of $171,527,000 in order to help protect the interests of workers who are injured or become ill on the job and, where possible, help them get back to work when they are able. Although, the Office of Workers' Compensation was not fully funded in the Omnibus, the bill that was enacted included $115,424,000, which was an increase over previous years’ funding levels.
- EQUAL OPPORTUNITY AND AFFIRMATIVE ACTION IN FEDERAL CONTRACTS: Rep. Waters requested $156,611,000 in funding for the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs, which enforces the contractual promise of affirmative action and equal employment opportunity required of those who do business with the Federal government. Despite the president’s request that that offices funding be substantially reduced to $88 million from its previous fiscal year 2016 and 2017 level of approximately $105 million, the fiscal year 2018 Omnibus included $103,476,000 to maintain funding close to its previous level.
- LABOR MANAGEMENT STANDARDS: Rep. Waters requested that the Office of Labor Management Standards, which promotes labor union and labor-management transparency through reporting and disclosure requirements for labor unions and their officials, employers, labor relations consultants, and surety companies, be fully funded at $61,153,000, so that properly enforce labor-management. Although that office was not fully funded, the Omnibus, included $40,187,000 to, at least, maintain that office’s funding near its fiscal year 2016 and 2017 levels.
- OCCUPATIONAL SAFETY AND HEALTH: Rep. Waters requested $824,819,000 to protect workers’ rights and fully fund the Administration (OSHA), which sets and enforces protective workplace safety and health standards and also provides information, training and assistance to workers and employers. Despite the president’s proposal to cut the funding for that office by roughly $8.4 million in fiscal year 2018, the Omnibus included $552,787,000 to increase funding by roughly a $1 million over fiscal year 2017 levels and restore that office’s funding to what it fiscal year 2016.
- MINE SAFETY: Rep. Waters requested $560,817,000 to keep miners safe by funding for the Mine Safety and Health Administration, which operates to prevent death, disease, and injury from mining and to promote safe and healthful workplaces for the nation's miners. However, the Omnibus only included $373,816,000, which is a decrease of roughly $1.3 million from the fiscal year 2017 funding level.