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Courtney Statement on Passage of Omnibus Appropriations Bill

December 18, 2015
Press Release

WASHINGTON—Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-2), made the following statement after the House of Representatives voted to pass an omnibus appropriations bill:

“I am pleased that after a great deal of negotiating over the past few months, Congress was able to reach a fair,bipartisan compromise to fund the government,” said Courtney. “While this agreement is not perfect, it does contain a number of important provisions that I have stronglyadvocatedfor,including a delay of the Cadillac Tax, as well as funding for job training, healthcare research, and Connecticut’s defense manufacturing sector which helps drive our economy. To be sure, there were provisions in this bill that I would have removed, but on the whole I amglad to see that both sides of the aisle unite todo the right thing for the country. This is how Congress is supposed to function.”

The omnibus appropriations measure will now go the Senate for a vote before being sent to the President’s desk. It contains the following provisions:

Connecticut Defense Priorities – the bill supports and in many cases expands programs that rely on Connecticut’s talented defense industrial base, including:

Full funding for the two a year build rate for the Virginia class submarine ($5.3 billion), development Virginia Payload module ($168 million) and Ohio Replacement Programs ($1.4 billion).

11 additional F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, for a total of 68 aircraft in 2016

8 additional Army Blackhawk helicopters, for a total of 102.

Increase of $70 million for avionics modernization of the C-130H aircraft fleet, reflecting Congressman Courtney’s work to advance this issue in the NDAA. The Connecticut Air National Guard is assigned a unit of 8 C-130 H aircraft.

Excise tax –the package includes a two year delay of the implementation of the so-called “Cadillac Tax,” from 2018 to 2020.

Environmental protection and restoration –the bill rejects attempts to roll back or block efforts to protect the environment and invest in new energy technologies, including:

Reauthorization of the Land and Water Conservation Fund for three years, which expired on September 30 and provides $450 million for the program – an increase of $144 million from last year.

Extension of the Wind and Solar tax credit for five years, supporting critical investment new energy technologies and jobs.

Increased funding for energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy programs, increasing overall funding for wind and solar R&D projects and boosting resources for advanced manufacturing centers within the energy efficiency portfolio

No restrictions on United States contributions to the United Nations Green Climate Fund.

Education and Job Training – the package protects and increases critical education and job training funding that eastern Connecticut towns rely on, including:

  • $14.9 billion for Title I Grants to Local Educational Agencies ($500 million increase)
  • $11.9 billion for Special Education state grants (IDEA) ($415 million increase)
  • $9.2 billion for Head Start and Early Head Start Programs ($570 million increase)
  • $2.7 billion for the Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Job Training Formula Grant program, ($86 million increase) including $90 million for the new Apprenticeship grants and capacity building programs.

Health research –The bill makes vital investments in innovative health research, providing a $2 billion increase to the National Institutes of Health, bringing the total to $32.1 billion for 2016. Within NIH, the bill increases funding for Alzheimer’s research to nearly $1 billion and an investment in Lyme disease research of $10 million.

Small Business Lending –the package increases the Small business Administration’s 7(a) loan cap, from $18.7 billion to $26.5 billion. The program previously hit the loan cap over the summer, threatening critical investment in our nation’s small businesses.

Justice, Law Enforcement and First Responders –the bill includes several provisions that continue to support eastern Connecticut’s first responders and resources for victims of crime, including:

The long-overdue reauthorization of the critically important James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, making the World Trade Center Health Program permanent and reauthorizing the Victims Compensation Fund for five years. 

$690 million, $10 million more than 2015, split between the Assistance for Firefighters Grants Program (AFG) and the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Act.

$212 million for Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program, including $187 million for assistance to communities to hire and retain officers

A nearly 12% increase for the Office on Violence Against Women (VAWA) for prevention and prosecution programs, to $480 million in 2016.

Controversial “Riders” –generally speaking, the agreement does not include many of the more controversial provisions known as “riders” that would have undermined environmental regulations, labor rules, women’s health care, consumer protections and a range of other issues. Courtney signed a letter last month to Speaker Ryan urging the rejection of so-called “poison pill” riders that would threaten passage of a final funding bill.