Rooney Supports Pivotal Funding for Florida Agriculture, School Safety Programs and U.S. Military
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Thomas J. Rooney (R-FL), a Member of the Republican-controlled House Appropriations Committee, helped secure many victories for Florida in the 2018 Consolidated Appropriations Act which passed the U.S. House today by a bipartisan vote of 256-167.
“Today is a win for agriculture, school safety, our military, and Florida,” Congressman Rooney said. “Over the past year, I have worked to make sure that my constituents’ tax dollars are reinvested in federal programs that benefit our communities – like Everglades restoration, veterans’ mental health, and critical transportation programs. We have worked day-in, day-out to advocate for Florida’s priorities and to make sure my constituents’ voices are heard in the halls of Congress. We’ve finally reached the finish line for this fiscal year and I am incredibly proud to announce several of my requests on behalf of Florida made the final cut.”
Rooney was successful in achieving several goals in this year’s Appropriations bill, including securing increased funding for COPS Hiring Grants and for the Comprehensive School Safety Initiative, which will help states in their efforts to improve school security in the wake of the Parkland shooting.
The 2018 Consolidated Appropriations Act is comprised of the 12 fiscal year 2018 Appropriations bills, which were subject to hundreds of open hearings and hundreds of amendments over the course of more than a year. Notably, the legislation allocates over $4 billion for agriculture research, funds Everglades restoration and the Herbert Hoover Dike, gives over $300 million for school safety initiatives and provides our members of the military the pay increases they deserve. Rooney worked to advocate on behalf of programs important to Florida and secured, among other provisions, the following:
Florida’s Agriculture Industry
· Combats Citrus Greening Disease – This bill provides an all-time high funding level for citrus health research programs. This bill prioritizes $10.5 million for the Huanglongbing Multiagency Coordination Group (HLB-MAC) and $57 million for the Citrus Health Response Program (CHRP), which are critical in the fight against citrus greening disease.
· Hurricane Disaster Response – The bill directs the Secretary of Agriculture to take into account the views of all producers who suffered losses from last year’s natural disasters while determining eligibility for the emergency assistance provided last month.
· Promotes Agriculture Research – Provides $3.03 billion for agriculture research to help mitigate and stop devastating crop diseases, improve food safety and water quality, increase production, and combat antimicrobial resistance.
· Safeguards Farmers and Ranchers – Allocates $1.03 billion to help farmers, ranchers, and private forest landowners conserve and protect their land.
· Provides $225.5 million for COPS Hiring Grants – Increased funds for this program would expand the pool of eligible grant awardees and allow state and local law enforcement entities to hire additional School Resource Officers (SROs).
· Allocates $75 million for the Comprehensive School Safety Initiative – This initiative produces a research-based framework to improve school safety in K-12 public schools across the nation. Increased funding will support enhanced school safety training, metal detectors and other security infrastructure, and for the creation of systems that allow anonymous reporting of threats.
Military and Veterans
· Pay Raise for our Soldiers – Provides for a 2.4 percent pay raise for the military.
· Increases Defense Health and Military Family Programs – Provides an increase of $1.5 billion for the Defense Health Program to provide care for our troops, military families, and retirees. Allocates $359 million for cancer research and $125 million for traumatic brain injury and psychological health research.
· Rural Veterans – Supports Rooney’s request to increase the Office of Rural Health at $270 million.
· Mental Health – Provides $8.3 billion for mental health programs, with $186 million for suicide prevention and research.
· Funds Everglades Restoration and the Herbert Hoover Dike – In keeping with the rules of the earmark ban, Rooney requested the Committee support the president’s budget request level for Everglades restoration and the Herbert Hoover Dike construction. The Herbert Hoover Dike received $82 million and another $76.5 million was provided to support the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) and non-CERP projects like the Kissimmee River Restoration project.
· Okeechobee Waterway, FL – Provides $2.7 million for the waterway which runs through Lake Okeechobee and consists of the Caloosahatchee River on the west side of the lake and the St. Lucie Canal on the east side.
· Shore and coastline protection – Provides $50 million for shoreline restoration efforts which are critical to Florida's coastal communities.
· National Estuary Program (NEP) – This program received $47.7 million to support each of the 28 estuaries in the NEP, including the Charlotte Harbor, Sarasota Bay, Tampa Bay and the Indian River Lagoon. On top of this allocation, the bill provides additional funds to support the establishment of a new competitive grant program that will provide additional support for our communities to address the challenging issues facing our nation’s estuaries.
· Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) – Provides $425 million for the LWCF, which includes $200.3 million for federal land acquisition. Land conservation is integral to Florida’s ranches and is the most cost-effective method to reduce flooding into Lake Okeechobee and to prevent damaging subsequent water releases into coastal estuaries.
· Funds competitive TIGER Grants – Provides $1.5 billion for the National Infrastructure Investment program, or the TIGER grant program. Funding for this grant program was initially zeroed out by the Trump Administration but Rooney was pivotal in securing this record level of funding, for which Sarasota, Lee, and Polk Counties, as well as Port Manatee, have all submitted applications.
· Prepares for Future Disasters – Provides $7.9 billion in funding for FEMA’s Disaster Relief Fund to ensure our government is able to respond to disasters and help cover the extraordinary costs related to the active 2017 disaster season. The bill also includes Rooney’s request for language directing FEMA to make Public Assistance and Individual Assistance grant funding available for repairs to disaster mitigation structures like seawalls.
· Relief from Electronic Logging Devices (ELDs) for Florida’s livestock haulers – The bill includes a provision that would grant livestock haulers an exemption from ELDs until September 30, 2018. This exemption is a long-awaited crucial win for Florida’s cattle industry.
· Grants-in-Aid for Airports – Provides $3 billion for airport improvement grants and development projects, including construction or rehabilitation of new airports, runways, taxiways, and terminal buildings.
Combating the Opioid Epidemic
· The bill will provide nearly $4 billion—the largest allotment to date—in resources for opioid prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation. Of that amount, $1 billion is for new funding for grants to states and Indian tribes to address the opioid epidemic. The bill also provides $130 million for the Rural Communities Opioid Response program, aimed to reach and target the unique issues associated with substance use disorder in rural communities. The bill also provides $447 million for Department of Justice grant programs that support drug courts, treatment, prescription drug monitoring, heroin enforcement task forces, overdose reversal drugs, and at-risk youth programs.
And That’s Not All…
· No taxpayer money for abortions – Continues all existing pro-life provisions, including the Hyde and Helms Amendments prohibiting the use of taxpayer dollars for abortion, and prevents efforts to roll back the President’s expanded Mexico City policy.
· Traumatic Brain Injuries – As Traumatic Brain Injuries and concussions have become increasingly common, Congressman Rooney has recognized the need to address prevention methods. Rooney secured an unprecedented $11 million for the federal Traumatic Brain Injury Program, which provides grants to states for the development of a comprehensive, coordinated-family and person-centered service system at the state level.