Summary and Background
H.R.2764, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008 (the “State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2008, as amended”) is an appropriations bill that would fund 15 cabinet agencies and other federal agencies for Fiscal Year 2008.
If enacted, this bill would make fiscally-responsible investments that reflect the priorities of America’s families with funding for Agriculture; Commerce, Justice, Science;Energy and Water Development; Financial Services; Homeland Security; Interior and the Environment;Labor, Health and Education; Legislative Branch; Military Construction and Veterans Affairs; State and Foreign Operations;and Transportation, Housing and Urban Development. H.R. 2764 would fund critical programs to improve the health of our country, increase access to quality education, help our nation’s hard-working families make ends meet, and make our communities safer and our nation more secure. This bill is not perfect, but is the best we can pass with Republicans committed to blocking critical needs and a President who refused to negotiate. Recognizing the critical importance of U.S. efforts in the war on terrorism, the bill also includes $31 billion for operations in Afghanistan and other provisions related to Operation Enduring Freedom.
The Senate is expected to consider this bill on December 18, 2007.
Division A of H.R.2764 would make critical investments to support agriculture, forestry, and rural development programs. Division A provides $18.1 billion in total funding with $16.26 billion for the operations at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), $1.71 billion for work at the Food and Drug Administration, and $111 million for United States Commodity Future Trading Commission. This rejects the President’s proposed $24 million cut to the USDA and is $263 million above the President’s budget request.
H.R. 2764 would make investments in:
· Food safety. H.R. 2764 would provide $1.71 billion for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This funding is important because it will allow for additional food safety inspectors (domestic and foreign) and establish a FDA regional center for western states that will help to better react to issues like the tainted spinach problems recently experienced in California.
H.R. 2764 would alsofully fund the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS). This will provide for additional inspectors and for a slight increase to the states for state-inspected facilities. Also, an increase was provided for food safety research at USDA with an emphasis toward priorities shared by USDA and FDA. FSIS is funded at $930 million.
· Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children. H.R. 2764 would provide $6 billion for the Women, Infants, and Children program. This year, the program is expected to serve approximately 8.55 million low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding postpartum women, and to infants and children up to age five who are found to be at nutritional risk. At present, it is expected that the amount provided will fully fund participation costs and keep the emergency contingency reserve at $150 million even in the event that costs continue to rise.
· Rural housing. USDA provides funding for single and multi-family rural housing needs by distributing a total loan level of $6.35 billion to help rural America better handle the current problems in the housing market.
Commerce, Justice, Science
Division B of H.R.2764 would strengthen the economy and promote American competitiveness, protect our nation against terrorism and violent crime, and promote scientific advancements by providing $51.8 billion in funding for the Department of Commerce (including the National Institute of Standards and Technology Research (NIST)), Department of Justice (including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)), and Science related agencies (including the National Aeronautics Space Administration (NASA)) for Fiscal Year 2008. This is $688 million above the president’s request and $1.5 billion over Fiscal Year 2007 funding levels. Division B also includes $286 million in emergency appropriations for border and cyber security.
This bill would invest in:
· Counterterrorism and crime prevention. H.R.2764 would fund:
· FBI. H.R.2764 would provide $6.7 billion for the FBI, which has as part of its mission dismantling dirty bombs and terror cells on U.S. soil. The funding would help the agency focus its core investigative work on threats against U.S. interests, develop enterprise-wide intelligence policies and capabilities, and provide useful and timely information and analysis to the national security, homeland security, and law enforcement communities.
· State and Local Law Enforcement. H.R.2764 would provide $2.7 billion for state and local law enforcement and crime prevention grants, including the Community Organized Policing Services’ (COPS) and COPS hiring program, which gives police departments across the country the tools needed to prevent, detect, and stop traditional street crime. The appropriation rejects the cuts proposed by the president’S.2008 budget request and begins to restore the more than $2 billion in cuts made to state and local law enforcement programs since President Bush took office in 2001. These cuts have been credited with the recent increase in violent crime across the country in 2005 and 2006.
· Drug Enforcement Agency. The bill would provide $2.1 billion for programs to fight illegal drug use, including $53 million above the President’s request to lift the hiring freeze at DEA.
· American competitiveness. H.R.2764 would provide funding for:
· National Science Foundation (NSF). H.R.2764 would provide $6.1 billion to NSF, the principal federal agency charged with promoting science and engineering education from pre-kindergarten through career development in an effort to help ensure that the country maintains its position as the global leader in science research and technology.
· NIST. The bill would provide $756 million for NIST, which promotes U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by assisting industry in developing technology to improve product quality, modernize manufacturing processes, ensure product reliability, and facilitate rapid commercialization of products based on new scientific discoveries.
· NASA. H.R.2764 would provide important funding for NASA to ensure that the United States remains the world’s preeminent leader in manned space flight. Specifically, the bill would provide $5.6 billion for NASA to conduct scientific research in space like the recent Mars Rovers missions, $3.8 billion for manned space exploration, and $625 million for aeronautics research.
Energy and Water
Division C of H.R.2764 would fund important programs within the Department of Energy, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Bureau of Reclamation. Division C provides $30.9 billion in funding for programs that would help reduce America’s dependence on oil, improve the environment, and support development of our Nation’s water resources. This funding amount is at the President’s proposed budget numbers and $1.6 billion more than enacted Fiscal Year 2007 levels.
H.R.2764 would make investments in:
· Renewable energy and energy efficiency. The DOE provides essential research and funding into breaking America’s reliance on oil and support of renewable energy technologies that can reduce emissions of greenhouse gases. H.R. 2764 would provide:
· $229 million for state weatherization grants;
· $215 million for advanced vehicle technologies;
· $213 million for hydrogen energy research and development;
· $200 million for biofuels research and development;
· $170 million for solar energy research and development;
· $110 million for energy efficient buildings;
· $50 million for wind energy;
· $20 million for geothermal energy research and development; and
· $10 million for water power energy research and development.
- Science. The DOE funds a series of advanced technology projects and climate change research. These funds are important because according to the DOE it is the “single largest Federal government supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States.” H.R. 2764 would provide:
· $1.28 billion for DOE research into basic energy sciences like chemical physics, neutron scattering, and nanosciences;
· $694 million for high energy physics programs such as proton accelerators;
· $549 million for biological and environmental research that is used to address energy production and environmental remediation;
· $436 million for research into nuclear physics that can help increase knowledge on the interaction of molecules within atoms and their practical applications; and
· $138 million for climate change research.
- Army Corps of Engineers. The Army Corps of Engineers is the federal government’s central agency in charge of planning and operating flood control, navigation, environmental protection, and disaster response. H.R. 2764 would provide the Army Corps of Engineers $5.6 billion that would help meet the needs of the Army Corps to protect, improve, and rebuild the Nation’s water resources infrastructure.
Financial Services and General Government
Division D of H.R. 2764 would make key investments to improve government services for the American people for Fiscal Year 2008, including improving services for taxpayers, community development, supporting small businesses, and strengthening the judicial system. Division D provides $20.6 billion in funding for the Department of the Treasury, Executive Office of the President, the Judiciary, the District of Columbia, and 20 independent agencies. This is $1.1 billion below the President’s request and $1.1 billion over Fiscal Year 2007 funding. Division D also includes $250 million in emergency funds for border security.
H.R. 2764 would make investments in:
· Community and economic development. H.R. 2764 would provide:
· $94 million for the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund to promote access to capital and spur economic growth in urban and rural low-income communities across the nation. This funding level is $65 million over the President’s proposal and $39.5 million over enacted Fiscal Year 2007 appropriations; and
· More than $40 million more for small business programs than last year. Specifically, the bill supports Small Business Administration programs that encourage the entrepreneurship that is the engine of the U.S. economy, including $17 millionfor themicro-loan program for very small loans to start-up, newly-established, or growing small business concerns; $97 million for small business development centers; and $13 million forwomen’s business centers, which provide technical assistance to women business owners.
· Taxpayer services. H.R. 2764 would provide:
· $2.15 billion for Taxpayer Services to help make the often daunting process of filing tax returns simpler and less burdensome. This funding level is $46.9 million over the President’s proposal and $11.8 million over enacted Fiscal Year 2007 appropriations; and
· $8 million for a demonstration grant program to help Community Volunteer Tax Assistance (VITA) programs provide volunteer income tax preparation services for low-income individual taxpayers.
· Consumer protection. H.R. 2764 would provide:
· $80 million for the Consumer Product Safety Commission to improve its ability to safeguard consumers against dangerous products and redouble its efforts to keep dangerous toys and other products out of children’s hands. This funding level is $16.75 million over the President’s proposal and $17.3 million over enacted Fiscal Year 2007 appropriations; and
· $2.5 million for consumer education and outreach project to prepare consumers for the digital television transition scheduled for February 2009. This funding level is $1 million above the President’s proposal.
· Good governance. H.R. 2764 would provide:
· A 3.5 percent cost-of-living adjustment for the civilian federal workforce to continue the tradition of pay-parity between civilian and military employees. The President’s budget proposed a three percent cost-of-living increase;
· A prohibition on the acceptance by agencies or commissions funded within this Division of payment or reimbursement for travel, subsistence, or related expenses from any person or entity that engages in activities regulated by such agencies or commissions; and
· $17.47 million for the Office of Special Counsel, which investigates federal employee allegations of prohibited personnel practices and protects federal government whistleblowers. This funding level is $1.1 million over the President’s proposal and $1.9 million over enacted Fiscal Year 2007 appropriations.
· Justice and election integrity. H.R. 2764 would provide:
· $410 million for court security to protect judicial personnel, witnesses, and family members of judicial personnel. This funding level is essentially identical to the revised budget request (as of September 2007) and $31.3 million over enacted Fiscal Year 2007 appropriations; and
· $115 million for implementation of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) to provide grants to help states comply with the federal law, including upgrading voting machines and voter registration databases so that they are ready for the 2008 Presidential Election. This account was not funded in the President’s budget or in enacted Fiscal Year 2007 appropriations.
· District of Columbia. H.R. 2764 would:
· Permit the District to spend local funds for a needle exchange program to combat the epidemic spread of HIV/AIDS. While, on average, the United States has 14 cases of HIV per 100,000 people, there are 128 cases per 100,000 people in Washington, D.C. In previous appropriations for the District, use of federal and local funds for this purpose was prohibited; and
· Provide $223.9 million for the District of Columbia Courts, to help continue the progress on capital improvements in the Judiciary Square complex, including restoration of the Old Courthouse for occupancy by the Court of Appeals. This funding level would be $10 million over the President’s proposal and $7.2 million over enacted Fiscal Year 2007 appropriations.
Division E of H.R.2764 would provide critical investments for the Department of Homeland Security for Fiscal Year 2008, to improve disaster preparedness programs and better secure American borders, ports, and transit systems against terrorist threats. Division E provides $34.85 billion in base funding, which is $550 million above the President’s budget request and nearly $3 billion above Fiscal Year 2007 levels, excluding emergency supplemental appropriations. The bill also provides an additional $2.7 billion in emergency funding for Fiscal Year 2008 for border security, not requested by the President.
H.R. 2764 would make investments in:
· First responder grants and training programs. H.R.2764 would:
· Reject the President’s proposed cuts for critical homeland security grant programs, including a 52 percent cut in State Homeland Security Grants and a 45 percent cut to the Firefighter Equipment and Training (FIRE) Program. Also, the President requested no funding for firefighter hiring (SAFER), Metropolitan Medical Response System, or the Commercial Equipment Direct Assistance Program.
· Provide a total of $4.2 billion for state and local first responder grants and training programs. This includes: $820 million for the Urban Area grants; $950 million for state homeland security grants; $400 million for transit grants, $300 million for Emergency Management Performance Grants; $750 million for Fire Grants, including SAFER; $50 million for interoperable communications; $41 million for the Metropolitan Medical Response System; $35 million for Regional Catastrophic Preparedness Grants; and $50 million for REAL ID grants to help states comply with DHS requirements for drivers’ licenses. This funding level is $1.2 billion over the President’s proposal, and $544 million above enacted Fiscal Year 2007 appropriations
· Port Security. H.R. 2674 would fund port security grants under the SAFE Port Act at the authorized level of $400 million. The bill also provides an additional $58.8 million for Coast Guard port and maritime security programs; $45 million to address the shortage of Coast Guard response boats protecting our ports; $22 million to provide up to 200 additional Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) officers at ports nationwide; $6.7 to fund improvements in container security (C-TPAT); and $60 million to improve intelligence, information-sharing and coordination among federal, state and local maritime authorities. This funding level is $190 million above the President’s budget request and the enacted Fiscal Year 2007 appropriations.
· Aviation security. H.R. 2674 includes $4.8 billion for aviation security, including: $694 million to implement the 9/11 Act by increasing the procurement and installation of explosives detection equipment at airports; enhancing screening of air cargo placed on passenger aircraft; increasing vulnerability assessments of general aviation aircraft; increasing the number of canine explosive detection teams; funding card reader pilot programs for the transportation worker identification credential (TWIC); and for airport checkpoint screening technologies.
· Customs and Border Protection (CBP). H.R. 2674 would provide a total of $9.4 billion for CBP. This includes $1.6 billion, $323 million above the President’s proposal for border security fencing, infrastructure and technology and CBP facility construction; $570 million, $93 million above the President’s proposal, for additional helicopters and eleven new marine enforcement units for northern border surveillance; and $475 million, $13 million above the President’s proposal and $113 million above Fiscal Year 2007, for the US-VISIT program. The funding for CBP is $657 million above the President’s proposal, and $1.36 billion above enacted Fiscal Year 2007 appropriations. It also funds the hiring of 3,000 new Border Patrol agents; bringing the total strength of the Border Patrol to more than 17,800 agents by the end of Fiscal Year 2008.
· Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). H.R. 2674 includes $4.7 billion to support initiatives to identify and provide removal proceedings for criminal aliens. It also provides $274 million in additional funding for detention and removal operations; including funding a total of 104 Fugitive Operations teams, expanding worksite enforcement activities, expanding the alternatives to detention program, and funding 32,000 detention beds; 4,500 beds more than provided by Fiscal Year 2007 appropriations. The funding level for ICE programs is $567 million above the President’s proposal and $770 million above enacted Fiscal Year 2007 appropriations.
· Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). H.R. 2674 would provide $724 million for FEMA. This supports the President’s request for $100 million for FEMA to rebuild its core competencies and improve management and also provides much-needed funds to ensure that state and local governments are prepared to respond to disasters. The funding level for FEMA programs is $8 million above the President’s proposal and $175 million above enacted Fiscal Year 2007 appropriations.
· Emergency Border Security Funding. H.R. 2674 provides a total of $3 billion in emergency spending, not requested by the President, to address unmet border security and immigration enforcement needs.
· Chemical Site Security. Despite the clear potential danger of terrorist exploitation of chemical plants, the Administration has been slow to regulate security at these sites. H.R.2674 not only clarifies last year’s law to allow states to pass tougher security regulations, it funds the Department’s chemical site inspection program at $50 million, twice the requested amount.
Division F of H.R.2764 would fund the Department of Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency for Fiscal Year 2008. Division F provides $26.6 billion in funding to support programs that will help provide future and current generations with clean air and water, support firefighting activities, and improve America’s national parks. This funding amount is $900 million above President’s proposal and $200 million more than enacted Fiscal Year 2007 appropriations. The bill also includes $300 million in emergency funding for firefighting.
H.R.2764 would make investments in:
· Water infrastructure. The EPA is the lead federal agency that works to improve drinking water quality and polluted waters across the United States. The omnibus would allocate $829 million for the drinking water state revolving fund, $689 million for the clean water state revolving fund, $133 million for sewer and water grants.
· Clean air. The EPA is responsible for ensuring that the America’s makes progress in providing current and future generations with clean air. The omnibus would distribute $217 million to the states in clean air grants, $99 million into clean air research, and $49 million in grants to reduce emissions from diesel fuel.
· Toxic cleanup. The EPA is also accountable for the clean up the nation’s most polluted and toxic sites. The omnibus would take important to steps to protect the environment and the health of all Americans by allocating $591 million for Superfund cleanup, $96 million for air toxics and quality, and $75 million for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.
· Payments in Lieu of Taxes and wildfires. The Department of Interior through its Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program provides critical financial assistance to those counties across the country that have large amount of land owned by the federal government. The omnibus would fund PILT at $229 million. The bill would also allocate $2.8 billion for wildfire funding that help avert and fight wildfires.
Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies
Division G of H.R.2764 would provide $144.8 in discretionary funding for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and related agencies. This amount is $300 million above the Fiscal Year 2007 comparable level for these agencies and departments and $3.9 billion above the President’s budget proposal. In addition to the funding in the base bill, H.R.2764 would also provide $307 million in emergency funds for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and for health monitoring and treatment needs for emergency responders, residents and workers exposed to toxins at or around the World Trade Center Disaster site.
H.R.2764 would make investments in:
· Critical medical research. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is the primary federal agency for conducting and supporting medical research. Composed of 27 Institutes and Centers, the NIH provides leadership and financial support to researchers in every state and throughout the world. H.R.2764 would provide $29.2 billion to fund biomedical research at the NIH, facilitating research into diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes, cancer, and heart disease. This funding level is $607 million above the President’s proposal and $329 million above enacted Fiscal Year 2007 appropriations.
· Access to health care. H.R.2764 would provide $2.1 billion for the Community Health Centers program, which includes community health centers, migrant health centers, and health care centers for the homeless. These organizations provide primary health care and social services for those without other access to care. This funding level is $77 million above the President’s proposal and enacted Fiscal Year 2007 appropriations.
· Schools. Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) provides grants to local educational agencies (LEAs) for supplemental education funding, especially in high-poverty areas, for local programs that provide extra academic support to help raise the achievement of eligible students or, in the case of school-wide programs, help all students in high-poverty schools to meet challenging state academic standards. The program serves about 18 million students in nearly all school districts and more than half of all public schools – including two-thirds of the nation’s elementary schools. The largest and most important of the federal education programs, Title I grants to LEAs help the students who need help the most – the millions who are being left behind. Regrettably, the federal government has fallen short of its commitment on Title I each year, and each year the gap between the authorized an appropriated levels has grown wider, for a cumulative total of $54.7 billion dollars since 2002. H.R. 2764 would reverse this trend by providing $14.028 billion for Title I Grants to LEAs, the largest increase in five years. This amount is $118 million above the President’s proposal and $1.190 billion over last year’s funding level.
· Head Start services for more young children. Head Start, a highly-successful federal-to-local grant program established in 1965, provides early childhood education and services, including health, nutrition, and social and behavioral development for low-income preschool children and their families. H.R.2764 would provide $6.9 billion for Fiscal Year 2008 for Head Start, $13.7 million more than enacted Fiscal Year 2007 appropriations. The President proposed to cut Head Start funding by $100 million.
· Financial assistance to make college more affordable for millions of students. Pell grants provide need-based financial assistance that helps low- and middle-income undergraduate students and their families pay the costs of postsecondary education and vocational training. H.R.2764 would provide $14.2 billion in discretionary funding for the Pell Grant program. Together with mandatory funding from the Higher Education Reconciliation bill passed earlier this year, this bill will raise the maximum Pell Grant award to $4,731, an increase of $421 over the current maximum award of $4,310. This is the largest increase in the Pell award since 2001.
· Assistance for students with disabilities. The Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA) provides assistance to ensure that all children with disabilities have access to a free, appropriate public education. H.R.2764 would provide $11 billion for IDEA Part B state grants, an increase of $259 million over the Fiscal Year 2007 funding level. These additional funds would reverse the declining share of federal resources for educating students with disabilities. The Bush Administration proposed slashing $291 million from special education.
· Poverty alleviation. The Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) program provides states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, U.S. Territories, Indian Tribes and tribal organizations, community action agencies, migrant and seasonal farm workers or other organizations designated by the states, funds to alleviate the causes and conditions of poverty in communities. H.R.2764 would provide $654 million for CSBG, $23 million above the Fiscal Year 2007 Funding Level. The Bush Administration’s budget called for termination of this program.
· Assistance to low-income households in meeting the rising costs of home energy. The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) awards grants to states, territories, Indian tribes, and tribal organizations to assist low-income households in meeting the costs of home energy. States receive flexibility in how they provide assistance, including direct payments to individuals and vendors and direct provision of fuel. H.R.2764 would provide $2.6 billion in state grants for heating and cooling assistance for low-income individuals and families, $409 million above the Fiscal Year 2007 funding level. President Bush’s budget called for slashing LIHEAP funding by $379 million.
· Department of Labor. H.R.2764 would invest $11.7 billion in the Department of Labor (DOL), much of which is for workforce development programs, which enhance job training and employment assistance services at the local level for economically disadvantaged veterans, dislocated workers, civilian adults, and at-risk youth. The amount is more than $722 million above the President’s budget, which would have eliminated services for 166,000 workers and caused programs, such as the Community Services Employment Program for low-income seniors to drop more than 40,000 participants.
· International labor affairs. The omnibus would include $81 million in DOL funding for the International Labor Affairs Bureau (ILAB), an increase of $8.6 million over last year and $67 million more than the President’s budget request. Roughly $65 million of these funds will support the effort to eliminate exploitative and abusive child labor. In addition, approximately $5 million will support a new initiative to address worker rights in foreign countries with which the US has trade preference programs.
· Mine safety and health.Also in the DOL account, H.R.2764 would provide $334 million for the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), $20 million more than the President’s request and $32 million more than last year. These additional funds will enable MSHA to meet its legal obligation to conduct 100 percent of mandatory health and safety inspections.
· Social Security backlog reduction.H.R.2764 would provide $9.7 billion for Social Security Administration administrative expenses. This amount is $451 million more than the 2007 comparable level and $150 million more than the President’S.2008 budget request. These increases are aimed at reducing the backlog of disability claims. Currently, it takes more than 550 days to process an appeal, up more than 300 days from fiscal year 2000. More than 700,000 Americans are waiting that long and the President’s proposal would have caused more of them to wait even longer.
Division H of H.R.2764 would fund the activities of the legislative branch at $4 billion, which is $400 million below the President’s proposal but $100 more than the Fiscal Year 2007 enacted level. In addition to funding the House of Representatives, at $1.2 billion ($52 million below the President’s proposal) and the Senate, at $832 million ($62 million below the president’s request), the legislative account would provide $562 million for the Library of Congress, $37.3 million for Congressional Budget Office, $125 million for the Government Printing Office, and $500 million for the Government Accountability Office to help improve Congressional oversight efforts. The account also funds the Architect of the Capitol and the Capitol Police, which would be merged with the Library of Congress Police.
Military Construction and Veterans’ Affairs
Division I of H.R.2764 would provide a total of $60.2 billion in discretionary funding for military construction and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), as well as an additional $3.7 billion in emergency funding for veterans. The total amount provided is $3.2 billion above the President’s budget request, and $14.1 billion above the Fiscal Year 2007 funding level. It would provide the largest increase in veterans’ spending in the history of the United States. Veterans’ affairs programs would receive $43.1 billion, which is $3.7 billion above the President’s proposal and $6.6 billion above enacted Fiscal Year 2007 appropriations (excluding FY 2007 emergency supplemental funding).
H.R. 2764 would make investments in:
· Veterans Health Administration. The bill would provide $37.2 billion for veterans’ health care and medical research, which is $2.6 billion over the President’s request for veterans’ medical care, VA hospitals and clinics, and medical research. This total would exceed the funding suggested in the Independent Budget, a comprehensive budget and policy document created by Veterans Service Organizations.
· Medical services. H.R.2764 includes an additional $1.9 billion over the President’s requested amount for the VA medical services account. The additional funds will allow the VA to increase funding for the growing number of combat-related injuries such as Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, without having to shortchange the health care needs of veterans from previous conflicts. It also includes a minimum of $15 million for the Health Care Sharing Incentive Fund for joint programs with the Department of Defense to increase research, improve access to care and ensure a more seamless transition for veterans.
· Medical administration. The bill includes $3.5 billion, which is $75 million above the President’s requested amount and $339 million above Fiscal Year 2007 funding levels (excluding FY 07 emergency supplemental funding) to improve the management and efficiency of the VA health care system.
· Medical facilities. The bill would provide $4.1 billion for medical facilities. This includes $898 million for non-recurring maintenance of VA hospitals and clinics to ensure that VA facilities do not fall to the same neglect experienced at Walter Reed. This amount is $508 million above the President’s budget request and $530 million above Fiscal Year 2007 levels (excluding FY 07 emergency supplemental funding).
· Medical and prosthetic research. H.R.2764 would provide $480 million for medical and prosthetic research. This amount is $69 million above the President’s proposal and $66 million above Fiscal Year 2007 levels.
· VA operating expenses. The bill includes $1.6 billion, which is $133 million above the President’s request and $124 million above Fiscal Year 2007 levels, to provide up to 1,800 new claims processors to address the backlog of the more than 400,000 disability claims pending at the Veterans Benefits Administration.
· VA minor construction. The bill includes $630.5 million for minor construction needs at VA hospitals and clinics. This amount is $397 million above the President’s budget request and $432 million above Fiscal Year 2007 levels (excluding FY 07 emergency supplemental funding).
· Military Construction. H.R.2764 includes $20.6 billion for military construction, which is $4.4 billion above Fiscal Year 2007 levels, to support the construction and maintenance requirements, including critical renovations and repairs to military facilities and military family housing. This includes:
· Base Realignment Closure (BRAC) and re-stationing. The bill includes $7.2 billion for BRAC, which is $1.6 billion above Fiscal Year 2007 funding levels.
· “Grow the Force” Initiative. The bill would provide $2.8 billion in construction-related funding to fully support the Pentagon’s plan to increase the size of the Army by 65,000, the Marine Corps by 27,000 and the National Guard and Reserve by 9,200 during the next five years.
State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs
Division J of H.R. 2764 would make key investments to fight international terrorism, strengthen diplomacy, and combat the global HIV/AIDS pandemic. Division J provides $32.8 billion in funding for Department of State operations, embassy security and foreign aid programs, as well as U.S. contributions to international organizations. This is $2.1 billion below the President’s proposal and $1.5 billion over enacted Fiscal Year 2007 appropriations. Division J also includes $2.4 billion in emergency funds.
H.R. 2764 would make investments in:
· Global Health. H.R. 2764 would provide:
· $5 billion for HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care programs around the world. This funding level is $544 million above the President’s request and $1.2 billion above enacted Fiscal Year 2007 appropriations.
· $546 million for the Global Fund to provide grants to countries for AIDS, TB and Malaria prevention, treatment and care programs. This funding level is $546 million above the President’s request. With the $295 million included in the Labor, Health and Education Appropriations bill, the overall contribution to the Global Fund would be $841 million – $115 million above enacted Fiscal Year 2007 appropriations.
· $1.8 billion for Global Health and Child Survival programs, including $347 for HIV/AIDS, maternal and child health programs, malaria, and tuberculosis programs. This funding level is $284 million above the President’s proposal and $360 million above enacted Fiscal Year 2007 appropriations.
· Refugee Assistance. H.R. 2764 would provide $1 billion to help displaced people around the world with food, water, shelter and other basic needs. This includes significant resources to assist Iraqi refugees. This funding level is $55 million above the President’s proposal (including FY 2008 emergency supplemental requests) and $60 million above enacted Fiscal Year 2007 appropriations.
· Peacekeeping Activities. H.R. 2764 would provide:
· $1.7 billion for Contributions for International Peacekeeping Activities (CIPA), which include at least $550 million to support the UN-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur as well as peacekeeping missions throughout the world, including in Liberia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, southern Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Haiti, Timor-Leste, the Middle East, and Kosovo.
· $261 million for targeted peacekeeping operations that are of particular interest to the United States, including approximately $50 million to provide critical support to for security needs in Liberia. This funding level is $40 million above the President’s request for Peacekeeping Operations (PKO).
· Educational and Cultural Exchanges. H.R. 2764 would provide:
· $501 million to fund the participation of over 42,000 individuals in educational, cultural and professional exchange programs worldwide. This funding level is $15 million above the President’s request and $55 million above enacted Fiscal Year 2007 appropriations; and
· $682 million for radio programs critical to the nation’s overall public diplomacy efforts. This funding level is $14 million above the President’s proposal and $25 million above enacted Fiscal Year 2007 appropriations.
Transportation, Housing and Urban Development
Division K of H.R.2764 would fund important programs within the Department of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development. Division K provides total budgetary resources of $103.4 billion which represents an increase of $3.1 billion above the President’s request and $4.9 billion more than the Fiscal Year 2007 enacted level. Within that amount, the bill provides $48.9 billion in discretionary budget authority, which represents an increase of over $940 million above the President’s request and $2.2 billion more than the enacted Fiscal Year 2007 appropriation. This funding is for programs that would help improve America’s transportation infrastructure and a variety community development programs. The bill also includes $195 in emergency funding for the reconstruction of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis.
H.R. 2764 would make investments in:
· Roads and bridges. H.R. 2764 includes critical funding to help address the glaring needs to rehabilitate and construct roads and bridges throughout the country. Specifically, the bill would provide $40.2 billion in funding for highway infrastructure, plus an additional $1 billion specifically for all 50 states to meet its bridge infrastructure needs, and $195 million for emergency reconstruction funds for Minneapolis to rebuild the I-35W bridge.
· Amtrak. H.R. 2764 rejects the President’s drastic cuts to Amtrak that would have put the railroad into bankruptcy. In Fiscal Year 2007, Amtrak’s ridership increased by more than 1.5 million individuals compared to the previous year and it set a new record for total ridership. The legislation would allocate $1.3 billion for Amtrak that will prevent Amtrak’s bankruptcy and continue the ongoing work to improve Amtrak’s infrastructure and the railroads current services.
· Aviation. H.R. 2764 provides a total of $14.6 billion for the Federal Aviation Administration and funds a number of measures that will take steps to improve air traffic congestion and safety. Specifically, the legislation would distribute $3.5 billion for airport modernization, safety, and efficiency grants, rejecting the President’s proposed $750 million reduction to the program. In addition, $1.1 billion is provided to fund aviation safety activities, and $2.5 billion is for FAA procurement and to speed up the deployment of the next generation of air traffic control equipment.
The bill also restores the President’s proposed $60 cut proposed by the President to the Essential Air Service. This program maintains aviation service to our nation’s rural communities.
· Affordable housing. H.R. 2764 would provide $16.4 billion for Section 8 tenant based voucher program to subsidize housing costs, provide relocation assistance, and assist residents with job training. This amount is $433 million above the President’s request and $499 million above the 2007 enacted level. The President’s request did not provide adequate funding to renew existing vouchers and could have resulted in over 36,000 families losing their homes and potentially forcing them into homelessness. The omnibus would also provide $6.4 billion for Section 8 project based vouchers to ensure the development of affordable housing for 1.3 million low-income families and individuals.
The bill also provides funds for new housing vouchers to (1) reunite families once separated due to a lack of adequate housing and assist youth 18 to 21 who are transitioning from foster care and (2) accommodate 4,000 non-elderly, disabled individuals and families.
Beyond Section 8, legislators would provide funding for projects that create housing for low-income elderly ($735 million) and disabled ($237 million) Americans.
· Veterans housing. As part of the Section 8 account, H.R. 2764 would provide $75 million in new housing vouchers for more than 7,500 homeless veterans, including those returning from Iraq. This housing program is jointly sponsored by the Department of Veterans Affairs.
· Community development. The billwould reject the President’s efforts to drastically cut funding to the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and Hope VI programs, which invest in housing infrastructure projects in states and localities to provide affordable housing for low- and moderate-income Americans. The bill would provide $3.6 billion for the CDBG program, which is $115 million below the 2007 enacted level. In addition, $100 million is provided for the Hope VI account, thereby saving the program from elimination.
· Safe and secure housing. The measure would allocate $145 million for grants to state and local governments to conduct lead-based paint hazard reduction and abatement activities in private low-income housing. H.R. 2764 would also provide $4.2 billion, $336 million above the 2007 enacted level and $200 million above the President’s request, for the Public Housing Operating Fund, which ensures the maintenance, energy efficiency, and security of public housing.
· Housing counseling. H.R. 2764 would also address the nation’s worsening housing crisis by providing $230,000,000 million in total for housing counseling which includes $180 million for a new program specifically targeted to foreclosure avoidance/mitigation assistance programs. By the end of 2008, an estimated two million households could lose their homes to foreclosure, resulting in hundreds of billions of lost home equity, declining home values, and community costs. Housing counseling programs, which assist borrowers with mortgage modification and restructuring so they can avoid or mitigate the losses associated with foreclosure, are a key part of the solution.
Operation Enduring Freedom Emergency Supplemental Funding
Division L of H.R.2764 would provide for emergency supplemental appropriations for Operation Enduring Freedom and other related purposes.
Division L would provide for:
· A sense of the Congress commending the performance, courage, and sacrifice of United States military personnel;
· A prohibition on the use of any funds in this bill in contravention of laws and regulations implementing the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment;
· A requirement that the President submit to Congress a comprehensive regional stability plan for the Middle East;
· A prohibition on the use of any funds in this bill to fund Operation Iraqi Freedom;
· Additional funding for military personnel ($311.4 million for the Army ; $19 million for the Marine Corps) and operation and maintenance ($17.7 billion for the Army; $350 million for the Navy; $2 billion for the Navy; $800 million for the Air Force; and $483 million, Defense-Wide);
· $2.5 billion for "Afghanistan Freedom Fund" to support operations in Afghanistan and related activities in support of the Global War on Terror;
· An additional $2.3 billion for military procurement for force protection equipment and vehicles;
· $114.6 million for care for wounded and injured military personnel and for enhanced soldier and family support; and
· $4.3 billion for "Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Fund" to assist United States forces in the defeat of improvised explosive devices.
On September 6, 2007, the Senate passed H.R.2764, the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act, 2008, a bill that would fund the Department of State and related agencies and programs for Fiscal Year 2007 by an 81-12 vote. On December 17, 2007, the House approved an amendment to the Senate Amendment to H.R.2764 offered by Rep. Obey. This amendment would:
· Change the short title of the bill to the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008; and
· Incorporate 11 regular appropriations bills into its text.
This amendment was approved by a 253 to 154 vote.
A second amendment to add to H.R. 2764 emergency supplemental appropriations for Operation Enduring Freedom was approved by the House by a 203 to 201 vote.
The Senate is expected to take up the message on House action sent to the Senate on December 18, 2007.
For more information on the regular appropriations bills, visit the Congressional Research Service, FY 2008 Appropriations Page, available here.
Senator McConnell is expected to offer an amendment on behalf of the Senate Republicans that would provide emergency funding for Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The DPC will distribute additional information on amendments as it becomes available.
Statement of Administration Policy
On December 17, 2007, the Administration issued a Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) for H.R. 2764. The SAP indicated that because of the level of funding for the war on terrorism and prohibitions on against using the money for Iraq, “[i]f H.R.2764 were presented to the President in its current form, he would veto the bill.”
For more details, the SAP is available H.R.2764sap-r.pdf">here.
Update: Statement of Administration Policy related to Senate consideration of H.R.2764 can be accessed H.R.2764sap-s_2.pdf" title="http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/legislative/sap/110-1/H.R.2764sap-s_2.pdf">here.
House Committee on Appropriations, Joint Explanatory Statement to Accompany Consolidated Appropriations Amendment (December 17, 2007), available here.
House Committee on Appropriations, Filling Holes: The President’s Budget v. The Omnibus, available here.
Congressional Research Service, FY 2008 Appropriations Page, available here.
DPC Reports on Fiscal Year 2008 Appropriations, available here (12/17/07).