Appropriations Committee approves FY2018 Commerce, Justice, Science bill

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Appropriations Committee approves FY2018 Commerce, Justice, Science bill

Thu, 07/27/2017 - 2:21pm -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine The fiscal year 2018 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) Appropriations Bill provides a total of $53.4 billion in discretionary funding, $3.2 billion less than fiscal year 2017 and $4.4 billion more than the President’s request. The CJS bill invests in a wide range of critical programs that affect the lives of all Americans. The bill provides $29.1 billion, $121 million more than fiscal year 2017 and $740 million more than the President’s request for the Department of Justice (DOJ) to keep America safe from criminals and terrorists.  The Department of Commerce receives $9.2 billion to warn Americans about severe weather, promote American businesses and exports, create cybersecurity standards, protect American ideas, foster economic development, enable sustainable development of ocean resources, and conduct the Census.  The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is funded at $19.5 billion to explore the solar system and protect our planet.

Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Ranking Member of the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee, said:

“This bipartisan bill continues critical support for programs that help local law enforcement, invest in life-saving research, protect the fishing industry, and promote small businesses. I’m pleased that this legislation rejects most of the egregious cuts and program eliminations proposed in President Trump’s budget. I appreciate that the bill also includes an increase for programs that fight the ongoing and uncontrolled heroin, opioid and fentanyl crisis. Congress must continue to provide the resources for first responders and treatment desperately needed to tackle this epidemic. This legislation should do more to invest in infrastructure, science, and law enforcement, which is why Congress must approve a new budget deal that provides the necessary resources for both military and domestic programs.”

Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said:

“I want to thank Chairman Shelby and Ranking Member Shaheen for their hard work to produce a bipartisan bill that funds law enforcement, invests in science and supports economic development. This bill provides much needed help to communities to combat the scourge of the opioid epidemic, assistance for our state and local law enforcement, and assistance to help victims of crime.  But for all of the good work accomplished in this bill, we are still not sufficiently investing in our country’s future; there is more that should and could be done to make sure we remain at the forefront of scientific discovery, invest in our economy and infrastructure, and provide treatment and prevention services for those struggling with addiction.  To accomplish this, we need to reach a bipartisan budget agreement that allows us to responsibly fund the government and invest in our nation.” 

Key Points & Highlights

·         Opioid Crisis.  This bill provides a total of $174 million to help our communities combat heroin, synthetic drugs and the illegal distribution and use of opioids.  The bill rejects the Administration’s plan to eliminate the anti-heroin task force program within the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Office, instead providing $12 million, an increase of $2 million above the fiscal year 2017 level.  The Drug Enforcement Administration is provided $12.5 million to continue four heroin enforcement teams and U.S. Attorneys’ Offices are provided $2.5 million to prosecute crimes relating to the diversion of opioids.  The bill also provides $111 million in funding for Comprehensive Addiction Recovery Act grants managed by the DOJ, an increase of $8 million above the fiscal year (FY) 2017 level and $34 million more than the President’s request.

  • Law Enforcement.  Federal law enforcement agencies within the DOJ including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Marshals Service, Drug Enforcement Administration, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and Bureau of Prisons are funded at a total of $20.9 billion, $221 million more than fiscal year 2017 and $73 million more than the President’s request. The Byrne-JAG program is funded at $404.5 million, an increase of $1.5 million more than the fiscal year 2017 level and $72 million more than the President’s request. COPS Hiring is funded at $207.5 million, which will place approximately 1,000 more police officers on the streets of our communities, an increase of $13 million more than the fiscal year 2017 level and $500 thousand more than the President’s request.
  • Addressing Violence Against Women.  The bill contains $483.5 million, the highest funding level ever, for grants provided by the Office on Violence Against Women.  Funding is provided for multiple competitive and formula grant programs that support training for police officers and prosecutors, state domestic violence and sexual assault coalitions, rape prevention programs, lethality assessment and homicide reduction initiatives, domestic violence hotlines, women’s shelters and transitional housing support services.  The bill again provides $45 million to support multi-disciplinary community response teams tasked with developing and implementing comprehensive reform regarding sexual assault, including reducing the backlog of rape kits at law enforcement agencies. 
  • Strengthening Police-Community Relations.  Strong partnerships between the police and the communities they protect reduce crime, ensure that citizens' civil rights are protected, and improve officer safety.  The bill provides a total of $110 million across DOJ programs that work toward strengthening this important relationship, the same amount as fiscal year 2017.  The Community Trust Initiative is again funded at $65 million for fiscal year 2018, which includes funding for law enforcement to purchase body cameras, the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, and the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation program.  Funding of $5 million is again provided for the National Crime Statistics Exchange (NCS-X).  Approximately 6,300 of the Nation’s roughly 18,000 law enforcement agencies participate in the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS).   NCS-X will help additional law enforcement agencies add their detailed crime statistics, like officer related shootings, into NIBRS so that the DOJ will be able to produce nationally-representative estimates of crimes known to the police that can be disaggregated by victim-offender characteristics, the circumstances of the event, victim-offender relationship, and other important elements of criminal events. When completed, nationally-representative NIBRS data will increase the nation’s ability to monitor, respond to, and prevent crime by allowing NIBRS to produce timely, detailed, and accurate national measures of crime incidents.
  • Weather Satellites.  This bill provides $419 million to continue construction of two new polar ‘follow-on’ satellites, an increase of $90 million above the fiscal year 2017 enacted level and $239 million above the President’s request.  Polar satellites provide 85 percent of the data used to forecast the weather, and are a vital component of Americans’ personal, property, and economic security, but the administration proposed cutting this program and delaying these satellites, which would have created a serious risk of a gap in forecasting ability.  One-third of U.S. GDP is affected by climate and weather, including farmers trying to protect livestock and crops, cities relying on energy from wind turbines and solar panels, and air travelers trying to get home safely and on time.  In the first six months of 2017, the United States suffered nine major weather and climate events estimated to have cost more than $1 billion dollars each and causing 57 deaths.  These storms would have cost far more and posed even greater threats to human safety without sufficient warning.  The bill provides $1.3 billion for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) legacy JPSS and GOES weather satellites.
  • NOAA research and grants.  The bill rejects the administration’s request to reduce funding for climate, weather, and oceans research by 32 percent, and instead funds NOAA research at the fiscal year 2017 level of $478 million.  The bill rejects the proposal to eliminate successful NOAA programs like Sea Grant, the National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS), Coastal Zone Management (CZM) grants, and the Regional Coastal Resilience Grant (RCRG) program.  The Sea Grant program is funded at $65 million, $2 million above the fiscal year 2017 level, which will support more than 20,000 jobs and nearly 3,000 American businesses.  NERRS is funded at $25 million, $1.5 million above the fiscal year 2017 level.  CZM grants and RCRG are funded at their respective fiscal year 2017 funding levels of $70 million and $15 million, and will support coastal and Great Lakes communities across the country.
  • NOAA Ships.  The bill provides $75 million to begin building a new NOAA survey vessel.  NOAA currently has 16 ships in its aging fleet, but that number will dwindle to 8 vessels by 2028.  The Committee recently funded one additional vessel, but to maintain its current oceanographic capacity, NOAA needs to build not one but eight additional vessels in the next several years, as construction takes eight to ten years per ship.  These vessels enable NOAA to map the ocean floor, support weather forecasts, conduct oceanographic and climate research, and improve ecosystem and fisheries management. 
  • Economic Development Administration.  The bill rejects the administration’s request to eliminate the Economic Development Administration (EDA) and instead provides $254 million for EDA, including $100 million for Public Works grants, $37 million for Economic Adjustment Assistance grants, and $21 million for the Regional Innovation Program.  EDA awards infrastructure and planning grants to all 50 states.  The fiscal year 2018 funding level will leverage an additional $2.15 billion in local and private investment and support nearly 35,000 American jobs.
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology.  The bill provides a total of $944 million for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), a cut of $8 million below fiscal year 2017 level and $219 million above the request.  NIST research and grant programs develop measurements and standards for private sector innovation, help small businesses commercialize new technologies, and provide technical and workforce development support to American manufacturers.  Cybersecurity industry partnerships and research are funded at $75.7 million, including $33 million for the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence.  The bill provides $15 million for the National Network of Manufacturing Institutes (Manufacturing USA), and rejects the administration’s proposal to terminate the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program, instead funding the program at $130 million.  For every one dollar of federal investment, MEP generates $17.90 in new sales growth for manufacturers and $27 in new investment. This translates into $2.3 billion in new sales annually.
  • NASA.  This bill provides $19.5 billion for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which is $124 million below the fiscal year 2017 enacted level.  The bill rejects the elimination of NASA’s Education program, providing $100 million, the same as fiscal year 2017, to build the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) workforce.  It supports key priorities Earth Science and satellite servicing at fiscal year 2017 level.  The bill provides resources for next generation space transportation to take astronauts to low-Earth orbit and beyond, including commercial crew, the Space Launch System, Orion, and supporting ground systems.  The Nation’s aerospace sector is a net exporter, generating a trade surplus of $81 billion in 2015.
  • National Science Foundation.  The National Science Foundation (NSF) is funded at $7.31 billion, $151 million below the fiscal year 2017 level.  This funding includes $5.92 billion for NSF’s research and research facilities, a cut of $116 million, and $862 million for NSF’s education and training programs to build tomorrow’s innovation workforce, a cut of $18 million.  This funding level would result in 456 fewer research grants and support 4,911 fewer scientists, technicians, teachers, and students, compared to the fiscal year 2017 funding level of $7.47 billion.
  • Census Bureau.  Funded at $1.52 billion, this bill provides an increase of only $51 million above the fiscal year 2017 level for the Census Bureau.  The 2010 Census cost nearly $13 billion, and the Bureau projects that repeating the same old paper-and-pencil Census in 2020 could cost more than $17 billion.  New technologies like internet response have the potential save more than $5 billion in 2020, but the Bureau won’t be able to implement these cost-saving technologies without adequate investment in testing and development in 2018.  The funding provided in this bill falls at least $300 million short of level needed to ensure a cost-effective decennial census in 2020. 
  • Legal Services Corporation (LSC).  The bill provides $385 million for LSC which is the same as fiscal year 2017, rejecting the Administration’s request to eliminate LSC.  LSC is the largest provider of civil legal aid in the country, and its grantees served nearly 1.9 million people in 2015, helping them with family law, domestic violence, housing, fraud, and other legal problems.
  • Marine Mammal Commission (MMC).  Funded at $3.4 million, the same as fiscal year 2017.  The bill rejects the elimination of MMC, an independent government agency chartered under the Marine Mammal Protection Act to provide science-based oversight of actions affecting marine mammals.

Shaheen Amendment

Committee Republicans Thursday rejected a funding amendment offered by Senator Shaheen to the CJS appropriations bill that would have increased funding for public safety, created jobs through infrastructure and economic development, and met the constitutional responsibility for funding the Census.  The amendment, totaling $6.51 billion, was the latest in a push by Committee Democrats to demand investments in the American people. The Democrats’ proposal would ultimately increase defense spending in fiscal year 2018 by $54 billion above post-sequester spending caps, mandated by the Budget Control Act, and provide an equal increase in non-defense programs – a budget and policy approach known as “parity.” The text and breakdown of the Shaheen Amendment is available HERE.  Highlights in the Shaheen Amendment rejected by Committee Republicans included:

  • $2.249 billion for public safety.  This would have provided grants to state and local law enforcement to combat the opioid epidemic, supported VAWA grants that help women and their families escape domestic violence, and provided $1.4 billion to build the new, consolidated FBI headquarters and maintain the National BioForensics Analysis Center.
  • $3.37 billion for job-creating infrastructure and economic development.  This would have supported the Economic Development Administration by leveraging $1 billion in local and private investment to create 16,000 American jobs. It would have invested in enhancing broadband infrastructure, focusing on the “last mile” for communities most in need, and invested in research and education by supporting an additional 13,000 scientists, research technicians, teachers and students.
  • $891 million for the Census. This would fully fund testing and development for 2020 Census, including reinstating the Washington State and West Virginia test sites for the 2018 end-to-end test, restoring rural data products, and restoring sufficient funding for information technology development and security.  These funds will protect the $5 billion in expected lifecycle savings over the cost of repeating the 2010 census.

Source: WASHINGTON (THURSDAY, July 27, 2017) –  Leahy