WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Julia Brownley (D-Westlake Village) voted to pass the Fiscal Year 2016 Omnibus Appropriations bill. The bipartisan bill was approved in a vote of 316 to 113.
“Today, I voted for the bipartisan Fiscal Year 2016 Omnibus Appropriations Act. Not only does the Omnibus prevent another government shutdown, but it also makes critical investments in key Ventura County priorities, like our veterans, Naval Base Ventura County, our local schools, local law enforcement, and agriculture programs,” said Congresswoman Brownley. “While the bill is not perfect, it is overall a big win for Ventura County’s families and for our country.”
“I am especially pleased with the increased funding for VA healthcare, including additional funds that will allow facilities like the VA-run Oxnard community clinic to move forward. As Ranking Member of the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health, I have been working with the VA to improve healthcare for veterans in Ventura County and increase the availability of specialty care in our local community.”
The bill’s investments in priorities include the following:
- National Defense: Provides an increase for defense programs that will improve military readiness, increase health research for TBI, invest in military housing and schools, and provides a 1.3% pay increase for our troops.
- Veterans: Provides a robust increase in funds for veterans programs to improve VA health care and medical services. Increases funds for the Caregiver Program, for mobile Vet Centers, and medical and prosthetics research.
- Homeland Security: Increases funds for Customs and Border Protection, the Coast Guard, and other critical homeland security priorities, and provides $50 million in new funds to help state and local law enforcement counter violent extremism and prepare for and respond to terrorist attacks.
- Renewable Energy: Provides a major boost to renewable energy by extending the wind Production Tax Credit for five years (through 2019), and extending the solar Investment Tax Credit for five years (through 2021), while phasing both credits down somewhat over time. Extending the solar tax credit is estimated to create 61,000 jobs in 2017 alone. It is also estimated that the wind industry will grow to over 100,000 jobs over four years with the renewed wind tax credit.
- Energy Efficiency and Clean Energy R&D: Provides an 8 percent increase over 2015 for R&D activities in the pursuit of new clean energy and energy efficiency technologies.
- Education: The bill restores the $2.5 billion cut in education that the GOP had proposed and also makes critical additional investments of $1.4 billion above 2015, in such areas as Title I that serves 24 million at-risk students.
- Early Learning: Investing in Head Start produces results – and this bill invests nearly $400 million more than the House GOP bill and nearly $600 million more than 2015 in this vital initiative. The bill also provides $250 million for Preschool Development Grants, assisting 18 states across the country.
- Medical Research: Medical research at NIH has been underfunded for the last several years. This bill provides $900 million more than the House GOP bill and $2 billion more than 2015 for this life-saving research.
- Infrastructure: The popular TIGER grants are being used across the country to repair infrastructure and contribute to economic growth. The House GOP bill had slashed TIGER grants by 80 percent, killing jobs, but this bill restores the funding to the 2015 level of $500 million.
- Law Enforcement: The bill provides $187 million for COPS hiring grants, $7 million above the 2015 level and $187 million above the House GOP bill, which had eliminated the hiring grants. The bill also provides $80 million for the Community Policing Initiative, including $22.5 million for body-worn cameras and $15 million for Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation grants, an increase over the House bill.
- Agriculture: Provides increased funding for pest and disease research programs, as well as for food and nutrition programs.
The measure also does not include many divisive riders that would have had damaging impacts on America’s women, consumers, workers, and children. The damaging “poison pill” riders that were removed from the final bill include:
- Riders that would have limited women’s access to the full range of comprehensive health care services, including by defunding Planned Parenthood.
- Riders that would have gutted the Dodd-Frank provisions that hold big Wall Street banks accountable.
- Riders that would have undermined the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act, jeopardizing the health of our children and working families.
- Riders that would have blocked moving forward on addressing climate change and reducing damaging carbon emissions.
- Riders that would have blocked protections that allow workers to form unions and help them save for retirement.
Finally, the Omnibus includes several other important provisions:
- Reauthorizes the key James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, making the Health Program permanent and reauthorizing the Victims Compensation Fund for five years;
- Delays the so-called “Cadillac” tax, a tax on employer-provided health plans worth over a certain threshold, for two years – from 2018 to 2020; and
- Reauthorizes the Land and Conservation Fund, which is one of our country’s most successful outdoor recreation and conservation programs and which expired on September 30th.
Julia Brownley represents California’s 26th Congressional District, which includes most of Ventura County, and Westlake Village in Los Angeles County. She serves on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and as the Ranking Member on the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health.