Update December 7, 2016: This bill was co-opted through the amendment process to serve as the legislative vehicle for a spending package to fund the federal government. Originally, it served as an appropriations bill that would have provided over $35 billion in funding for fiscal year 2016 to the Army Corps of Engineers, nuclear security programs, and various federal energy, environment, and water programs.
In its current form, this bill funds most federal agencies, programs, and services at their current levels through April 28, 2017 without making any major changes in existing federal policy. It also contains funding for Dept. of Defense military operations against ISIS that aren’t provided for in the NDAA, natural disaster relief for areas ravaged by floods, and addressing drinking water infrastructure problems which was authorized by recently introduced water infrastructure legislation. Additionally, it provides funding for the 21st Century Cures Act, which was sent to the president’s desk by Congress on December 7, 2016.
Overseas Contingency Funding (OCO)
This bill contains $5.8 billion in funding for the Dept. of Defense (DOD) and $4.3 billion for the State Dept. to support military and diplomatic efforts to fight ISIS and terror around the globe. The defense portion of this spending would be funded at a level $8 billion above current spending levels.
Natural Disaster Relief
A total of $4.1 billion in disaster relief funding would be provided for in this bill to address damage caused by several recent natural disasters, including Hurricane Matthew, floods, drought, and other severe weather events including:
$1.8 billion for Community Development Block Grants in states to support recovery and rebuilding efforts for individuals with homes damaged by severe weather events;
$1.025 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers for repairs to flood and coastal storm protection projects and dredging;
$1 billion for the Federal Highway Emergency Relief program to repair damaged highways;
$206.1 million for emergency watershed protection and conservation;
$74.7 million to repair damaged NASA facilities.
This bill contains $170 million to address the infrastructure and health needs of communities affected by contaminated drinking water, all of which is fully offset by other spending cuts and rescissions. Grants would be made available for infrastructure improvements like replacing pipes, lead poisoning prevention care for mothers and children, and a lead exposure registry.
Funding for the 21st Century Cures Act
A total of $872 million in funding for the 21st Century Cures Act would be provided to boost medical research, drug approval, and drug abuse efforts Of this total, $20 million would go to the Food and Drug Administration Innovation account, $352 million for the National Institutes of Health Innovation account, and $500 million for states to respond to the opioid abuse crisis. All of this funding is fully offset through other spending cuts and rescissions.
This legislation also includes miscellaneous provisions aimed at preventing catastrophic, irreversible, or detrimental changes to government programs and support national security, among other reasons. Some of these include:
Allowing funding to be used for purchases related to the Ohio Class Submarine, Apache Attack Helicopter, Blackhawk Helicopter, and KC-46A Tanker programs that would otherwise cause delays and increase costs.
Funding critical nuclear weapons activities and providing for Homeland Security operations, including border and immigration enforcement and protecting the president-elect.
A provision preventing members of Congress from receiving a pay increase.
Additional funding, if needed, to house and care for unaccompanied children who have entered the country illegally beyond February 1, 2017 because the variability in the number of children entering the country.
Allowing funds to make District of Columbia school choice (SOAR) vouchers available in time for the next academic year.
Providing $45 million, fully offset, for continued healthcare plan benefits for certain miners covered under a union benefit plan to prevent the loss of healthcare coverage for the miners and their families that would otherwise occur on December 31, 2016.