March 23, 2018
Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Doug Jones today announced that communities and projects across Alabama would be receiving increased federal support as part of the Senate’s Omnibus funding bill, which passed early this morning and has been signed into law. The Senator played an active role in securing new funds for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and expressed support for several defense projects across the state.
“This funding bill provides significant new resources for key Alabama initiatives – from infrastructure to defense to education,” said Senator Jones. “I’ve used my first three months in office to fight for the issues people in our state are facing every day, like affordable access to health care, helping our kids get a quality education, and creating an environment that will encourage job growth. I’m proud to say this funding agreement makes critical investments in those areas and many more that will benefit Alabamians from Decatur to Dothan.”
The omnibus bill supports important across Alabama, including:
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT and INFRASTRUCTURE:
Community Development Block Grants (CDBG): The bill provides $3.3 billion for CDBG, an increase of $300 million from fiscal year 2017. CDBG funding can be used to address a variety of needs, from supporting sewer and clean water projects, supporting small businesses, removing blight, or assisting seniors with home repairs. Last year, Alabama received over $39 million in CDBG funds.
On Thursday, Senator Jones questioned U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson about his department’s proposed elimination of the vital CDBG program. Watch their exchange here.
Child Care Access Means Parents in Schools (CCAMPIS) will receive a $34 million increase. The Senator signed a letter led by Senator Tammy Duckworth on February 28, 2018, to subcommittee leaders on the Senate Appropriations Committee that requested additional funding. Senator Jones visited Alabama’s only CCAMPIS site at Northwest-Shoals Community College last month.
Senator Jones worked to secure significant new funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). As a result of the omnibus, they will receive a 14-percent increase in federal funding, from $244.7 million in FY2017 to $279.6 million in FY2018. The funding increase follows a request made by Senator Jones and Senator Kamala Harris last month in a letter to the leadership of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies. In addition to the increased funding for HBCUs, historically Black graduate institutions will also receive a 14-percent funding increase, from $63.3 million to $73.3 million. Predominantly Black Institutions will receive a boost from $9.9 million to $11.4 million.
Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants
The agreement includes $1 billion, an increase of $700 million, to the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants. On March 8, 2018, Senator Jones signed a letter led by Senator Tammy Baldwin to the Senate Appropriations Committee and Labor-H Subcommittee asking for additional funds for these grants. This program can use funds for activities such as providing school-based health and mental health services and counseling, implementing systems and practices to prevent bullying and harassment, supporting trauma-informed classroom management, and establishing community partnerships.
The agreement provides $20.7 billion for NASA, an increase of nearly $1.1 billion above FY2017. Senator Jones visited the Marshall Space Flight Center during his recent statewide tour.
NASA’s Planetary Sciences Division will get a significant increase from $1.8 billion to $2.2 billion. The bill continues to direct NASA to build two spacecraft to explore Jupiter’s moon, Europa. The bill also provides $600 million for robotic Mars exploration.
$600 million for a new initiative in high-speed broadband development – a 10-fold increase in broadband investment over FY2017 levels – focused on expanding access to remote unserved and under-served rural areas. Under the pilot, broadband loans could increase from $27 million to $1.5 billion, while grants could increase from $34.5 million to more than $300 million.
Key support for defense in Alabama includes for an additional Expeditionary Fast Transport (EFT) Ship at Austal, without this investment, thousands of Mobile-area jobs would be at risk. Senator Jones visited Austal last month during his first official statewide tour. The omnibus also includes $400 million to build eight MH-60 helicopters in Troy, along with $100 million for space-launch vehicle and engine development activities.
The agreement also included a permanent clarification that farms are not required to report air emissions under CERCLA rules, also known as the Fair Agriculture Reporting Method (FARM) Act. Senator Jones is a cosponsor of the bipartisan FARM Act (S. 2421), which was introduced by Senators Deb Fischer Joe Donnelly.