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Tonko Secures Major Wins for Capital Region in 2020 Spending Package

House-passed funding bills combat opioid epidemic, strengthen energy efficiency, mental health services, broadband access, clean energy R&D and more

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Washington, June 27, 2019 | comments

WASHINGTON – Congressman Paul D. Tonko cheered House passage of appropriations legislation this week that funds many of his Capital Region and national priorities, which Tonko fought to protect or expand for Fiscal Year 2020:

“These funding bills deliver on the values and needs of the American people, including significant wins for our New York Capital Region communities. These include major steps forward in combatting America’s opioid epidemic and the global climate crisis, stopping an unsanctioned war with Iran, expanding mental health treatment and training, adding critical funding for home energy efficiency, advancing American leadership in clean energy research, expanding access to broadband Internet, as well as bolstering our community health centers, manufacturing support, heritage areas, museums and libraries, and much more.

“We still have a tremendous amount of work to do on these and other related issues, including securing universal background checks on all firearm sales and protections for undocumented individuals who were brought to America as children and now face deportation by this President. I remain determined to move these issues forward in the coming year.”

The House has now advanced funding legislation for 10 of the 12 appropriations bills needed to prevent a government shutdown later in the year. Additional statements on key items impacting New York’s Capital Region that were fought for by Congressman Tonko are included here:

 

Combatting America’s Opioid Epidemic

Congressman Tonko: “Overdoses are now the leading cause of death for Americans under 50, and America’s opioid crisis threatens to drastically worsen by 2025. My Democratic colleagues and I are working to tackle this crisis head-on, investing more than $4 billion into proven public programs to combat the opioid epidemic. Contrary to the heavy cuts proposed to these programs by President Trump, this funding bill delivers a $33 million increase over last year that includes expanding substance use treatment and prevention programs that save lives and save taxpayers money, as well as $2 million to develop addiction curriculum in medical and nursing schools, which was authorized by my TEACH to Combat Addiction Act when it was signed into law last year.”

 

Protecting our Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor

Congressman Tonko: “New York’s Erie Canalway and sites like it all across the country embody our national heritage, filled with the stories of diverse people and places that give us a wisdom and strength that can only come from a close connection to our own history and culture. Rather than let these sites fall into disrepair, local partnerships have formed to maintain and share them including our own Erie Canalway system. By raising the funding cap for the Erie Canalway, this precious waterway will be preserved and put to its best use throughout the 21st century. Securing this funding extension for the Erie Canalway and other precious sites across New York State will help local communities preserve our heritage, spur local economic development, and tell America’s most important stories for years to come.”

 

Restoring American Leadership in Clean Energy & Climate Action

Congressman Tonko: “America’s long-term global competitiveness requires that we make clean energy research a top priority. Despite the President’s proposals to eliminate most of America’s clean energy research programs and roll back much of our climate progress, my Democratic colleagues and I passed the Climate Action Now Act to block the Trump administration from removing the United States from the Paris Agreement. We were also able to protect and expand the Department of Energy’s leading Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) by $273 million, State Energy Performance (SEP) by $15 million, as well as secure an additional $59 million for the agency’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). The Trump Administration planned to eliminate SEP and cut ARPA-E by $287 million this coming fiscal year.”

 

Fighting for Clean Water and a Safe Environment

Congressman Tonko:We have seen the painful costs of failing to safeguard Americans’ clean water and public health. In the face of President Trump’s ongoing effort to gut commonsense environmental protections, I am proud to report that our House bill appropriates an additional $1.47 billion for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), an agency whose work could not be more important or urgent for protecting public health and preventing costly and painful disaster. This EPA funding includes major investments in our nation’s aging water infrastructure, reflecting legislation I helped lead last term to strengthen the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, which will be replenished with $1.3 billion under the House funding bill, a $436 million increase from last year, as well as the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, which receives $1.784 billion under our bill and a $390 million increase from last year. These increases will mean critical funding goes to states to help repair and upgrade local water systems. Our House funding bill also provides an $18 million increase from last year for brownfields cleanups, a remediation program that not only reduces environmental risks but supports economic redevelopment by revitalizing communities and returning underutilized properties back to productive use.”

 

Strengthening Weatherization & Low-Income Home Energy Efficiency

Congressman Tonko:Extreme heat and bitter cold threaten our neighbors in older, poorly insulated homes with real health dangers and high utility costs. Low-income households pay some three times more for energy bills as a share of their overall income than those in higher income strata. America’s Weatherization Assistance Program and our Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program provide critical support to help these households improve the energy efficiency of their homes and cover their energy costs. These are high-impact investments: for each dollar the American people put into weatherization, we see an estimated $4.50 in benefits in addition to safer and more prosperous communities. Despite repeated attempts by President Trump to eliminate both of these impactful programs, we were able to secure a cost-effective increase of $36 million for weatherization and $150 million for low-income energy assistance that will go toward keeping American families safer and healthier when extreme weather hits.”

 

Expanding Access to Broadband Internet

Congressman Tonko: “Over the past decade, broadband internet access has gone from a luxury to an economic necessity for students, professionals, small businesses, and countless others in communities all across the United States. Our Capital Region still has a significant number of homes and businesses without this access, a challenge that many constituents have expressed to me directly. U.S. broadband maps are incomplete and misrepresent service levels, with many of these constituents falling between the cracks without the minimum level of acceptable service. I have worked for years to address these gaps in broadband mapping and with the help of my Democratic colleagues have secured more than $680 million to address the problem and expand broadband service into more communities throughout our region.”

 

Preventing Unnecessary War

Congressman Tonko: “President Trump has repeatedly threatened military action in Iran that would go far beyond any legal justification Congress has granted to him. The American people do not want war, in part because we have already paid a heavy toll in American lives and resources for past conflicts in the region. The 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force has already led to a $1.06 trillion war with Iraq and a $975 billion war with Afghanistan. That’s why part of this funding agreement includes a repeal of the 2001 authorization, effectively preventing the President from taking unsanctioned military action without Congressional approval. This measure was adopted to avoid unnecessary war, which will save the government billions, and instead allocate money towards bettering the lives of the American people. More importantly, repealing this powerful executive act will prevent the loss of thousands of American lives.”

 

Fighting for American Leadership in Science

Congressman Tonko:While the United States remains a global leader in science and technology, other nations are quickly catching up and racing to overtake us. I fought to secure $8.64 billion in funding for the National Science Foundation, one of the driving forces for American achievement in science and technology, driving research that contributes directly to advanced manufacturing, physics, mathematics, cybersecurity, neuroscience, and STEM education. These investments will help foster innovation and economic competitiveness in our Capital Region and beyond.”

 

Supporting Capital Region Economic Development

Congressman Tonko: “Our Capital Region communities are strengthened by development programs that grow our local economies by improving infrastructure, investing in areas that need it, fostering job creation and supporting innovative community development. This funding agreement delivers an additional $236 million for the Economic Development Administration. National Infrastructure Investments including BUILD (formerly TIGER) grants that support projects throughout our region will also receive $1 billion, some $100 million above the current level.”

 

Support for Mental Health & Suicide Prevention

Congressman Tonko: “Mental health is healthcare, full stop. Failing to treat it has allowed suicide rates to rise steadily in recent years and has substantially undermined our community health and economic prosperity. My colleagues and I are confronting this challenge by increasing funding for mental health, including suicide prevention through the Zero Suicide Initiative and National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, for which we have approved an additional $14 million and $20 million, respectively, securing a valuable resource for Capital Region families and communities.”

 

Lifting and Preserving America’s History and Culture

Congressman Tonko: “Historic sites and cultural centers instill in us a sense of place. They can also be important economic drivers supporting meaningful job creation and income growth. For example, America’s museums contribute $50 billion to the U.S. economy each year and spend more than $2 billion annually on educational activities. They support more than 726,000 American jobs, spurring tourism and contributing to the cultural fabric of our nation. I am proud to share that we secured an additional $8 million for the Office of Museum Services. As co-chair of the Heritage Area Caucus in the House, I am pleased that we were able to secure an additional $1.6 million for Heritage Partnership Programs. Historic Preservation Offices, which include State and Tribal Preservation Offices, civil rights site preservation grants, and grants to Historically Black Colleges & Universities, will benefit from $122 million this coming fiscal year. These dollars go a long way, thanks in part to innovative public-private partnerships, attracting an average of $5.50 in private funding for each public dollar invested.”

 

Preserving Amtrak 

Congressman Tonko: “Many in our Capital Region rely on Amtrak for business and other travel. In 2018, Amtrak served over 12.1 million passengers on all Acela Express and Northeast Regional trains. My colleagues and I recognize the reliance on Amtrak by many of our constituents and have decided to grant the transportation $2 billion. This amount is an additional $50 million from the past fiscal year and $1 billion more than what the Trump Administration proposed to give the nationwide rail network.” 

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