Tonko Secures Major Wins in House-Passed Budget
Funding bill passes without Trump-requested EPA cuts, includes drinking water, clean energy, mental health support, gun violence research, broadband Internet mapping and combatting the opioid epidemic
Washington, March 22, 2018
"After repeated delays and years of painful cuts, Republican leaders in Washington seem to have finally realized that their partisan crisis-driven governing does not serve the needs or best interests of the American people." - Rep. Paul Tonko
WASHINGTON – Congressman Paul D. Tonko issued the following statement after voting to adopt government funding legislation that delivers on many critical Capital Region and national priorities he worked directly to achieve through the end of Fiscal Year 2018:
After repeated delays and years of painful cuts, Republican leaders in Washington seem to have finally realized that their partisan crisis-driven governing does not serve the needs or best interests of the American people.
Today’s bipartisan budget agreement reflects major priorities that my Democratic colleagues and I have been actively pushing for months to achieve, including major steps forward in combatting the opioid epidemic, addressing gun violence research, support for states to make urgent drinking water repairs and upgrades, mental health treatment and training, advances in clean energy research, improvements to our broadband Internet maps and America’s transportation systems, and critical funding for proven safety net programs such as Head Start, home weatherization, community health centers, manufacturing growth, heritage areas, museums and libraries, and much more.
While I remain deeply concerned by blockbuster military spending increases and broader budgetary issues less than a year after Republicans voted to add some $2 trillion to the deficit to give tax breaks to the wealthy, this bill avoids foolish, costly and unpopular spending on a border wall and other misguided priorities that would do little to address the major issues with our border or our immigration system. Overall, the other priorities represented in this bill will help millions of Americans who are still being largely ignored and forgotten by this President and Republican leaders in Congress.
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.
“As America’s opioid crisis continues to worsen, the need for a national response becomes ever more urgent. I am proud to report that my Democratic colleagues and I were able to secure $3.2 billion for programs that specifically address the opioid epidemic, as well as $1.6 billion for community health centers that are on the front lines of this crisis. In addition, despite President Trump’s direct opposition, it maintains funding for the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment grant program that helps states and territories deliver lifesaving treatment to some 1.5 million individuals every year.”
“Every life and every job depends on access to safe, clean drinking water. Some 86 percent of American households depend on public water systems, and many of these systems date back to the 1800s and are in need of major repairs or replacement. My Democratic colleagues and I fought and won some $300 million in additional funding for states to repair drinking water systems and another $300 million to support state-run clean water initiatives.”
“Thanks to firm negotiating by Democrats, this agreement rejects President Trump’s repeated demands for vast and damaging cuts to America’s Environmental Protection Agency. Staff members at this agency work tirelessly every day in communities all across America to ensure that pollution and contaminants can be kept out of the water we drink, the air we breathe and the soil that helps grow the food on our tables.”
Gun violence research
“This spending compromise loosens the gag on Centers for Disease Control (CDC) funding for gun violence research, opening a door that has been closed for more than two decades. Expanding research into gun violence as a public health crisis will help us better understand why Americans are 25 times more likely to be victims of a gun homicide than the people of any other developed nation. The bill also strengthens the background check system and helps cash-strapped school systems looking to invest in greater security.”
“Foreign interference in the 2016 election is well-documented, even as the news seems to get worse with every new revelation. Despite that, President Trump has only recently conceded this obvious and overwhelming point and done little or nothing to improve election safeguards. Thankfully the President’s opinions had little to do with the outcome of this compromise, which yielded some $380 million in new funding for the Election Assistance Commission. That funding will go directly to states to help protect election systems from cyber threats.”
“America’s top competitors around the world are spending heavily to slingshot their domestic clean energy sectors. Our ability to compete with them over the long term will depend heavily on making our own clean energy research a top priority. Despite the President’s proposals to eliminate many federal clean energy research programs, my Democratic colleagues and I were able to protect and expand the Department of Energy’s leading Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) by some $23 million, as well as secure an additional $47 million for the agency’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).”
“Extreme heat and cold can lead to substantial utility costs for families, especially those living in older, poorly-insulated homes. While this can affect individuals and families at any income level, it hits low-income households the hardest with more than 16% of their total income going toward energy costs. The Department of Energy’s Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) provides critical support to low-income Americans to improve the energy-efficiency of their homes. Weatherization dollars go a long way, generating some $4.50 in benefits for every dollar spent on these programs. Democrats fought to secure $248 million for the WAP program, a program the President attempted to eliminate.”
“Broadband Internet has gone from a luxury to an economic necessity for countless professionals, small businesses and communities all across the United States. Our Capital Region still has a significant number of homes and businesses without this access, an issue I have been working to address. One problem we face is that U.S. broadband maps are incomplete and misrepresent service levels, with many of my constituents falling between the cracks without the minimum level of acceptable service. My Democratic colleagues and I fought to secure an additional $2.1 billion to increase broadband Internet access in rural areas as well as $7.5 million for the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to update and improve broadband maps.”
History & culture
“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 spend $21 billion in their communities every year including $2 billion on direct education. They employ some 400,000 Americans, spurring tourism and contributing to the cultural fabric of our nation. I am proud to support the Office of Museum Services, which will see an additional $3 million this year under the bipartisan budget compromise. I also serve as co-chair of the Heritage Area Caucus and am pleased that we were able to secure a $500,000 increase for Heritage Partnership Programs. 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.”