$383 Billion ‘Minibus’: FY2020 Funding for the Census, DOJ, EPA, NASA, VA, and More
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by Countable | 10.30.19
This is a summary of the version of H.R. 3055 which passed the House on a 227-194 vote on June 25th, as the Senate is going to amend the bill. You can see a summary of the bill in its current form here.
What is House Bill H.R. 3055?
This “minibus” appropriations bill would provide $383.3 billion in FY2020 appropriations for agencies funded under five appropriations titles: Commerce-Justice-Science; Agriculture-Rural Development-FDA; Interior-Environment; Military Construction-Veterans Affairs; and Transportation-Housing and Urban Development. A breakdown of its various provisions can be found below.
Commerce, Justice, Science
This section would provide $73.895 billion in discretionary funding — an increase of $9.78 billion — for the federal government’s commerce, justice, and science-related activities through the Departments of Commerce and Justice, among other agencies.
The Commerce Dept. would be provided with $16.43 billion in funding for FY2020, an increase of $5.02 billion from the prior year. Among the agencies that’d get funding include:
- Census Bureau: $8.45 billion to fund the 2020 Decennial Census, which would be prohibited from including a citizenship question.
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA): $5.49 billion, an increase of $64.2 million, would go to climate research, improvements in weather forecasting, the reduction of harmful algal blooms, and fisheries management.
- National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST): $1.04 billion, an increase of $14 million, for research advance U.S. competitiveness, economic growth, and cybersecurity.
The Dept. of Justice would receive a total of $32 billion, an increase of $1.07 billion from the prior year. Of the total, $3.4 billion would be provided for state and local law enforcement and crime prevention grant programs, including:
- $582.5 million for Violence Against Women Act programs.
- $530.25 million for the Byrne JAG program, which is the primary grant program for state and local law enforcement agencies.
- $375 million for Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act programs to combat the opioid and heroin epidemic.
- $260 million for the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program.
- $191 million for initiatives to address sexual assault kit and other DNA evidence backlogs.
- $100 million for Anti-Human Trafficking grants and $85 million for Missing and Exploited Children programs.
Other law enforcement agencies receiving funding under this section include:
- $9.46 billion for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), an increase of $263.8 million.
- $7.32 billion for the Bureau of Prisons (BOP), an increase of $75 million.
- $2.36 billion for the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), an increase of $89.9 million.
- $1.44 billion for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), an increase of $122 million.
The Science section of this bill would provide funding for the following agencies:
- National Aeronautics and Space Agency (NASA): $22.32 billion would be provided for NASA in FY2020, an increase of $815 million from the prior year, to support human and robotic space exploration.
- National Science Foundation (NSF): $8.64 billion would be provided for the NSF, an increase of $561.1 million, to provide for basic research across scientific disciplines and to support the development of effective STEM programs.
Agriculture, Food & Drug Administration, Rural Development
This section of the bill would provide $24.1 billion in FY2020 discretionary funding for U.S. Dept. of Agriculture (USDA) programs and would authorize funding for mandatory nutrition programs at estimated levels.
Food and Nutrition Programs: This section would provide discretionary and mandatory funding for USDA’s food and nutrition programs, including:
- Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): $71.1 billion in required mandatory funding would be provided to fund the program through FY2020.
- Child Nutrition Programs: $23.956 billion in mandatory funding, which would provide free or reduced-price school lunches and snacks for children who qualify for the program.
- Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC): $6 billion in discretionary funding, a decrease of $75 million — which is based on USDA enrollment estimates and won’t prevent eligible participants from getting benefits.
Rural Development: This section would provide $3.943 billion funding, of which $665 million would be dedicated for rural water and waste developments. It’d provide for the development of rural broadband, and finance $6.9 billion in loans for rural phone & electric infrastructure, and $24 billion in loan authority for rural housing & rental assistance.
Food & Drug Administration (FDA): This section would provide $3.26 billion in discretionary funding, an increase of $184 million from the prior year. Total funding, including revenue from user fees, would amount to $5.86 billion. It would provide targeted increases for blood supply safety, foodborne illness outbreak responses, and advancing reviews of generic drugs.
International Programs: This section would provide $2.1 billion for international food aid, including $1.85 billion for Food for Peace grants and $235 million for the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition program which aim to reduce famine and enhance food security overseas.
Interior & Environment
This section would provide a total of $37.28 billion in funding, an increase of $1.73 billion, for the Dept. of the Interior, the U.S. Forest Service, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Bureau of Indian Affairs and other agencies.
Dept. of the Interior (DOI): A total of $13.79 billion would be provided for the DOI and the agencies under its jurisdiction, including:
- Bureau of Indian Affairs & Bureau of Indian Education (BIA/BIE): This section would provide $3.5 billion in funding for BIA & BIE, an increase of $432 million from the prior year.
- Bureau of Land Management (BLM): $1.4 billion in funding would go to the BLM, an increase of $66 million from the year prior. Funds would go to administering energy and minerals programs while investing in public land management.
- National Park Service (NPS): $3.39 billion in unding would be provided to NPS, up $168 million from the prior year to address a backlog of construction, maintenance, and operate new park units.
- U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS): $1.7 billion would be provided for the FWS, an increase of $74 million from the prior year. Within the total, increased funding would be available for the State and Tribal Wildlife Grants program and the North American Wetlands Conservation Act, while operation of fish hatcheries would be maintained. The prohibition on listing the greater sage grouse as an endangered species would continue.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): This section would provide $9.53 billion in funding for the EPA, an increase of $131 million from the prior year, including:
- $3.43 billion for the EPA’s core science and environmental program work, an increase of $131 million from the prior year. This would include increased funding for cleanup of nationally significant bodies of water like the Great Lakes, Chesapeake Bay, and Long Island Sound. It’d also provide additional resources for scientific & regulatory work on per- and polyfluoroalkul substances (PFAS) needed to establish a drinking water standard and cleanup standard for PFAS.
- Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds: $3.08 billion in grants, an increase of $319 million from the prior year.
- Superfund: $1.21 billion for environmental cleanup at Superfund sites, an increase of $55 million.
U.S. Forest Service: A total of $3.68 billion in non-fire funding would provided, a programmatic increase of $257 million from the prior year.
Wildland Fire Management: A total of $5.21 billion in funding would be provided, an increase of $1.6 billion from the prior year. It would include a $2.25 billion in cap-adjusted fire suppression.
Military Construction & Veterans Affairs
This section of the bill would provide $108.4 billion in discretionary funding, up $10.4 billion from the prior year.
This section would authorize FY2020 mandatory spending at the Dept. of Veterans Affairs (VA) and would provide $108.4 billion in discretionary funding for FY2020, an increase of $10.4 billion from the year prior.
VA Medical Care: $80.4 billion would support medical treatment and healthcare for the VA’s approximately 9.3 million enrolled patients. Of the total, $9.5 billion would be for mental health; $1.9 billion for homeless assistance programs; $397 million for opioid misuse prevention and treatment; $222 million for suicide prevention; and $270 for rural health initiatives.
Additionally, this section would provide:
- $1.6 billion for major and minor construction;
- $87.6 billion in advance FY2021 appropriations and $129.5 billion in FY2020 advance mandatory funding.
Funding for military construction would total $10.5 billion for FY2020, an increase of $207 million from the year prior. Of the total, $921 million would go to Overseas Contingency Operations projects and the European Reassurance Initiative.
Specifically, this section of the bill would provide:
- $1.5 billion for military family housing, a decrease of $117.8 million from the prior year including construction for nine housing projects.
- $502.4 million to support the construction needs of the National Guard and Reserve forces.
- $172 million for the NATO Security Investment Program.
Transportation, Housing and Urban Development
This section of the bill would provide a total of $75.8 billion in discretionary funding for the Departments of Transportation, Housing and Urban Development — an increase of $4.7 billion from the year prior.
Transportation: This section would provide $86.6 billion in funding and user fees to fund transportation safety agencies and related infrastructure investments, including:
- $1 billion for TIGER or BUILD grants to invest in national infrastructure, evenly divided between urban and rural areas.
- $48.9 billion in budgetary resources for the Federal Highway Administration.
- $17.7 billion in budgetary resources for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to fully fund air traffic controllers, engineers, maintenance technicians, safety inspectors, and operational support personnel.
- $3 billion for the Federal Railroad Administration, including $2 billion for Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor and National Network to continue service for all current routes.
- $13.5 billion for the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), an increase of $60 million.
- $1 billion for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and $677 million for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Housing & Urban Development (HUD): This section would provide $50.1 billion in discretionary funding for HUD, an increase of $5.9 billion from the prior year. Increases are targeted toward continuing assistance for elderly and disabled beneficiaries of rental assistance programs. HUD’s rental assistance programs would receive the following amounts:
- $22.8 billion in Tenant-Based Rental Assistance through Section 8.
- $12.6 billion for project-based Section 8.
- $8.6 billion for HUD’s Office of Community Planning and Development (an increase of $917 million) which would include $3.6 billion for Community Development Block Grants; $2.8 billion for Homeless Assistance Grants; $1.75 billion for the HOME Investment Partnership Program; and $410 million for Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS.
- This bill would provide back pay for low-wage federal employees or government contractors affected by the 2018-2019 partial government shutdown.
Argument In Favor
This five bill “minibus” spending package reflects the House Democratic majorities priorities for the covered agencies. It would also ban the use of funds to include a citizenship question in the 2020 Census, ensuring a full and accurate count.
Packaging five appropriations bills into one “minibus” package that totals more than $383 billion is a nightmare for transparency. This package also includes partisan riders, such as the prohibition on including a citizenship question in the Census.
Agencies funded under the following appropriations categories: Commerce-Justice-Science; Agriculture-Rural Development-FDA; Interior-Environment; Military Construction-Veterans Affairs; and Transportation-Housing and Urban Development.
Cost of House Bill H.R. 3055
The CBO estimates that enacting this bill would cost $372.9 billion in FY2020.
In-Depth: This minibus appropriations package was introduced by Rep. Jose Serrano (D-NY), who is the chairwoman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science. It’s called a “minibus” spending bill because unlike an “omnibus” spending bill — which bundles all appropriations bills into one — it only bundles several (in this case five).
In announcing the inclusion of legislative language restricting the use of funds to include a citizenship question in the 2020 Census, Serrano said:
“The Census is too important to politicize with an untested and unnecessary citizenship question. If we want an accurate picture of American society and the fair distribution of funding for the next 10 years, then the question must be removed for the form. Including a citizenship question will reduce participation in immigrant communities and prevent them from being counted, hurting places like the Bronx and the state of New York for years to come.”
House Republicans opposed these bills in the appropriations committee, which were passed along party-lines:
- Agriculture, FDA, Rural Development passed on a party-line 29-21 vote.
- Commerce, Justice, Science passed on a party-line 30-22 vote.
- Interior & Environment passed on a party-line 30-21 vote.
- Military Construction & Veterans Affairs passed on a party-line 31-21 vote.
- Transportation, Housing & Urban Development passed on a party-line 29-21 vote.
Summary by Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: iStock.com / liveslow)
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