Courtney Votes to Save Plum Island, Promote Eastern Connecticut Priorities in House Financial Services Appropriations Bill
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02) voted to pass the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 (H.R. 3351). The appropriations measure provides $24.6 billion to cover a broad range of government functions and services, including the Department of Treasury, Executive Office of the President, District of Columbia and Federal Judiciary, the Small Business Administration, and the Election Assistance Commission. H.R. 3351 contains several measures and amendments that support priorities in eastern Connecticut that Congressman Courtney fought to have included in the bill, including his amendment to restrict the sale of Plum Island, NY.
“We’re continuing to push forward and produce results here in the House,” said Congressman Courtney. “Yesterday’s House passage of the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill was another big boost to some priorities that are important to eastern Connecticut, and to the nation. I was pleased to announce this week that my amendment to this bill to restrict the sale of Plum Island was adopted unanimously, and received final approval yesterday as the House voted to pass H.R. 3351. Plum Island is an ecological treasure, and our bipartisan amendment will help ensure that it remains a natural sanctuary for generations to come.
“I’ve been glad to work on a bipartisan basis to help produce some of this bill’s most important provisions, like critical funds to bolster election security nationwide, a long-awaited pay raise for our federal civilian employees, a budget increase for the Community Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, and more. I’m looking forward to more progress on eastern Connecticut priorities throughout this Congress.”
Highlights of Eastern Connecticut Priorities Addressed in H.R. 3351
- Includes Congressman Courtney’s bipartisan amendment to prohibit the General Services Administration (GSA) from using any of its funding to market, process, or complete a sale of Plum Island, NY.
For over a decade, Congressman Courtney has worked with the Connecticut and New York Congressional delegations to preserve Plum Island as a natural sanctuary. In June, Rep. Courtney announced that language he authored to repeal the statutory requirement to sell Plum Island was included in a Manager’s Amendment to the FY2020 Homeland Security appropriations bill. In March, Rep. Courtney introduced the bipartisan Plum Island Preservation Act (H.R. 1578), a bill that would repeal the law mandating the sale of Plum Island and require any further use of the island to be for conservation, education and/or research purposes.
- Includes a 3.1% pay increase for federal civilian employees.
President Trumps FY2020 budget request proposed an across-the-board pay freeze for federal civilian employees. In April, Congressman Courtney wrote to the Chair and Ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government to request a 3.6% pay raise for federal civilian employees.
- $600 million in federal Election Security Grants to assist states in improving federal elections’ security and integrity.
The Mueller Report revealed that Russia waged an unprecedented attack on our elections in 2016. H.R. 3351 provides robust funding in election security grants to the states to improve the security of elections for federal office, and increases funding for the Election Assistance Commission by more than 75%.
- $995.8 million for the Small Business Administration (SBA)
This funding level represents a $280.4 million increase for the SBA from FY2019 levels, and is $228.7 million above President Trump’s request. Within SBA funding, $150 million is included for Small Business Development Centers, and $30 million is included for Women’s Business Centers.
- $12 billion in funding for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), including a $67 million increase for Taxpayer Services, which includes an 8% increase for the Community Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA), Tax Counseling for the Elderly, and for Low-Income Taxpayer Clinics programs.
Congressman Courtney most recently visited the Windham Heights VITA Center in Willimantic in February of 2019.
- H.R. 3351 includes language to prohibit any federal funds from being used to penalize a financial institution for providing services to legitimate marijuana businesses in states where marijuana (medical or recreational) is legalized.