Senate Democrats

The Priorities of Senate Democrats Are Aligned with the Priorities of the American People

Democratic priorities are the priorities of the American middle class and those who aspire to join the middle class.  Throughout the annual appropriations process, Senate Democrats have made investments in critical programs, many of which have suffered after six years of neglect under the Bush Administration.  These investments are consistent with the Democratic budget resolution, which balanced the budget without raising a penny in taxes. 

The Senate-passed appropriations bills would make responsible investments to:

·        Begin to reverse six years of the Bush Administration’s failed policies and broken promises to our nation’s veterans by making the largest increase in funding for our veterans in history (Military Construction-Veterans Affairs);

·        Research cancer, heart disease, and diabetes; educate our children; provide access to health care for rural America; and heat the homes of low-income elderly Americans (Labor-HHS);

·        Strengthen America’s security by providing our servicemen and women with the tools they need to protect our nation, meet future threats, and fight terrorism more effectively (Defense);

·        Protect communities across the nation from terrorist attack and violent crime and advance scientific research and technology to improve America’s ability to compete in a global economy (Commerce-Justice-Science);

·        Fill significant gaps in our national security and protect us from future terrorist attacks with vital investments in first responder grants, port security, border security , and explosives detection (Homeland Security);

·        Fight global terror; strengthen diplomacy; and combat the global HIV/AIDS pandemic (State-Foreign Ops); and

·        Improve our highways; secure the nation’s pipelines and railways; and provide housing services for the elderly and veterans in need (Transportation-HUD).

Unfortunately, while spending billions more for Iraq, President Bush continues to threaten to veto Senate-passed appropriations bills that would fund these vitally important initiatives.  Democrats believe that it is long past time to put middle-class Americans first, change course in Iraq, and focus on our needs here at home. 

Democrats Investing in America’s Priorities:
Military Construction and Veterans

The Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Conference Report for Fiscal Year 2008 provides a total of $64.7 billion in discretionary funding for military construction and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), which is $4 billion above the President’s budget request, and $18 billion above the Fiscal Year 2007 funding level, excluding emergency supplemental funding.  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 requested amount. 

Key examples of Democratic investments in this bill include:

Providing first-rate health care for veterans. The conference report provides $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. 

Improving polytrauma care and treatment of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – the signature wounds of Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans.  The conference report includes an additional $1.9 billion over the 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. 

Bolstering medical and prosthetic research.  The conference report would provide $480 million for medical and prosthetic research, and ensure the continuation of funding for research related to Gulf War Illness.  This amount represents a $69 million increase over the President’s proposal.

Maintaining and improving VA hospitals and clinics.  The conference report provides $905 million more than the President’s request for minor construction and non-recurring maintenance of VA hospitals and clinics to ensure that VA facilities do not experience Walter Reed-type neglect and disrepair.  First rate hospitals and clinics are essential to quality health care.

Strengthening the VA medical infrastructure.  The conference report would provide $4.1 billion, which is $500 million above the requested amount, for the operation and maintenance of the VA health care system’s infrastructure to ensure that VA medical facilities are maintained at the highest level possible.

Addressing the claims backlog at the VA.  The conference report includes $124.2 million 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. 

Enhancing the readiness of the National Guard and Reserves.  The conference report includes $1.1 billion, which is $367 million above the President’s budget request, to fund the infrastructure needs of the National Guard and Reserves.  This funding is critical to improving the readiness of the Guard and Reserve forces stretched thin by repeated and extended deployments.

Supporting the “Grow the Force” initiative.  The conference report provides $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.

Providing for military construction needs.  The conference report includes $21.5 billion for military construction, which is $306 million above the President’s request to support construction and maintenance requirements, including critical renovations and repairs to military facilities and military family housing.  This includes $129 million to construct 16 new child development centers.

Democrats Investing in America’s Priorities:
Health and Human Services, Labor, and Education

The Departments of Labor Health and Human Services, and Education and Related Agencies Appropriations Conference Report for Fiscal Year 2008 (the “Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Bill”) would benefit every American citizen – across generations and socio-economic divides, reflecting our nation’s belief that “every citizen deserves the right to a basic education and job skills training; protection from illness and want; and an equal opportunity to reach one’s highest potential.”  (Appropriations Committee report, Summary)  The Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Bill would provide $150.7 billion in discretionary funding for three major federal departments and numerous related agencies, which is $9.8 billion above President Bush’s Fiscal Year 2008 budget request. 

Key examples of Democratic investments in this bill include:

Providing hope for medical cures. The Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Bill would provide more than $30 billion to fund biomedical research at the 27 institutes and centers that comprise the National Institutes of Health (“NIH”), an increase of $1.1 billion over the Fiscal Year 2007 funding level and almost $1.4 billion above the President’s budget request.  This additional funding would enhance the NIH’s ability to provide leadership and financial support to biomedical researchers, resulting in medical discoveries that improve the health and save lives of Americans.  This is the first time in five years that NIH funding has kept pace with biomedical inflation.

Increasing access to health care. The Community Health Centers program 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.  The Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Bill would provide $2.22 billion for the Community Health Centers program.  This is $225 million above the Administration’s Fiscal Year 2008 budget request and the Fiscal Year 2007 level.

Making 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 post-secondary education and vocational training.  The Pell Grant program serves more than 5.5 million low- and middle-income students and their families.  The Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Bill would provide discretionary funding to raise the maximum Pell Grant award which is currently $4,435.  Combined with new mandatory funding in the recently-enacted College Cost Reduction Act, the maximum Pell Grant would increase to $4,925, an increase of $615 over last year.  The Administration’s budget request would support a maximum Pell Grant of just $4,540, falling short of the amount needed to offset the increasing cost of tuition.

Investing in our schools. The federal government has fallen short of its commitment to provide the resources promised for the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), bipartisan K-12 education reform legislation signed into law in early 2002.  Each year since NCLB’s enactment, the gap between the authorized and appropriated levels has grown wider, for a cumulative total of almost $55 billion dollars since 2002.  The Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Bill would reverse this trend by providing $1.6 billion in additional funding for NCLB programs, enough to provide Title I academic support services to 430,000 additional disadvantaged children.  This year, the Bush budget called for $1 billion in additional funding for NCLB, while eliminating all funding for school technology, school counselors, and arts in education. 

Providing Head Start services to more young children.  Head Start, a 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 pre-school children and their families.  Due to inadequate funding, Head Start currently serves only about half of all eligible pre-school children and fewer than five percent of eligible infants and toddlers.  The Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Bill would provide $7.04 billion for Fiscal Year 2008 for Head Start, $153.6 million more than last year, and $253.6 million more than the Administration’s budget request.  This increased funding would help provide America’s neediest children with cognitive, social-emotional, and academic skills to help prepare them for success in school. 

Backing our promise to students with disabilities. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) provides assistance to ensure that all children with disabilities have access to a free, appropriate public education.  The Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Bill would provide $11.29 billion for IDEA Part B state grants, an increase of $509 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. 

Improving economic development and helping alleviate poverty.  The Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) program helps states meet the needs of low-income individuals with services such as adult education, housing assistance, nutrition programs, emergency services, employment aid and health services.  CSBG services and activities are provided to over 95 percent of all U.S. counties.  The Social Services Block Grant program (SSBG) helps each state meet the needs of its most disadvantaged residents, including child care, protective services, help for the disabled, adoption, counseling, transportation, foster care, substance abuse, meals for seniors, and other critical services for low-income families.  While the President’s budget retreats in efforts to reduce poverty by calling for a 50 percent cut in funding for these key programs, the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Bill would strengthen aid to poor children and families by providing $2.4 billion for these programs, $1.17 billion above the President’s request.

Helping families faced with rising energy costs.  The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) assists low-income households in meeting the costs of home energy.  The Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Bill would provide $2.4 billion in state grants for heating and cooling assistance for low-income individuals and families, $250 million over last year’s funding.  Despite record-high energy prices, the President’s budget request called for a $379 million cut to LIHEAP.  

Working to expand the middle class.  The Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Bill would support efforts to provide quality job training and education programs and job placement services for veterans, civilian adults, and at-risk youth.  The bill would allocate more than $5 billion for these programs, including JobCorp and the Transition Assistance Program (a program for veterans), which is approximately $850 million more than the President’s budget request.  

Improving the lives of American workers.  The Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Bill would strengthen the ability of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) to hold employers and mine operators accountable for the health and safety their employees.  The Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Bill would provide approximately $840 million for OSHA and MSHA, which is nearly $40 million more than the President’s budget request.  In the wake of recent mining disasters and continuing concerns about workplace safety, this funding is vital to the health and safety of American workers.

Democrats Investing in America’s Priorities:

The Department of Defense Conference Report for Fiscal Year 2008 provides a total of $459.3 billion in new discretionary defense funding for Fiscal Year 2008, which is $3.5 billion below the President’s budget request, but 9.5 percent above last year’s funding level.  

Key examples of Democratic investments in this bill include:

Providing for a military pay raise.  The conference report provides a 3.5 percent increase in basic pay for all servicemembers, which is a 0.5 percent increase above the President’s request.

Fully supporting end strengths for the U.S. armed forces and grow the force efforts.  The conference report supports Fiscal Year 2008 end strengths for the active duty and reserve forces and also supports efforts to grow the force, which includes an increase of 13,000 for the Army, 9,000 for the Marines, 5,000 for the Army Reserve and 1,300 for the Army Guard.

Promoting the transition of U.S. Armed Forces to meet 21st Century threats.  The conference report provides nearly the full funding request for the Army’s Future Combat Systems (FCS); provides additional funding for items on the Army Chief of Staff’s Unfunded Requirements List; and includes funds for critical military equipment, increased space situational awareness capabilities, and defense science and technology (S&T) programs.

Ensuring force readiness. The conference report includes $140.1 billion for key readiness programs that prepare forces for combat operations as well as critical peace-time missions.

Addressing National Guard and Reserve readiness shortfalls. The conference report provides an additional $980 million in funding for Guard and Reserve equipment to address critical equipment shortfalls that have resulted from overseas deployments, to ensure that these forces have the tools they need to support military operations overseas and also respond to natural disasters and defend against terrorist threats at home.

Protecting our troops. The conference report includes $11.6 billion for Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles; increases funding for body armor and other protective equipment for Special Operations Command; and provides $120 million for the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization (JIEDDO).

Rejecting the Administration’s proposed increases in fees for the military health care system.  The conference report provides $23.5 billion, $918 million above the requested amount, for defense health programs.  It rejects the President’s proposed increases in TRICARE co-payments by fully funding the $1.9 billion TRICARE shortfall without cost to our troops. 

Caring for wounded warriors. The bill providesan additional$70 million to fund programs authorized in the Dignified Treatment of Wounded Warriors Act – programs for facilitating and improving the care and rehabilitation of wounded servicemembers and providing for seamless transition from the Department of Defense to the Department of Veterans Affairs, and transition from military service to civilian life. 

Reversing proposed cuts to military hospitals.  The conference report provides $379 million to reverse the Bush Administration’s planned funding cuts to military hospitals.

Supporting military families. The conference report includes $2.6 billion for family support and advocacy programs, which is $237 million above the President’s request.  These funds will help meet the urgent need for more counselors, teachers, and child care providers to support military families stressed by repeated and extended deployments.  The bill also includes $600 million to improve and maintain facilities at home for returning troops and their families.

Funding cancer research initiatives.  The conference report includes $228 million for cancer research, including $138 million for the Breast Cancer Research Program, $80 million for the Prostate Cancer Research Program, and $10 million for the Ovarian Cancer Research Program.

Democrats Investing in America’s Priorities:
Commerce, Justice, and Science

The Departments of Commerce and Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, Fiscal Year 2008 (the “CJS Appropriations Bill”) would strengthen the economy and promote American competitiveness, protect our nation from terrorism and violent crime, and promote scientific advancements.  The bill is currently in conference, but as reported out of the Senate Appropriations Committee, the measure would provide over $54 billion for the CJS agencies, which would invest almost $3.2 billion more in America than President Bush’s budget request. 

Key examples of Democratic investments in this bill include:

Ensuring the integrity and independence of the Department of Justice (DOJ). Historically, the Department of Justice (DOJ) was known for its unbridled commitment to enforcing our nation’s laws and ensuring our civil rights, regardless of which party controlled the White House, the DOJ’s long-held reputation is now under question due to misguided ideology, politicization, and poor judgment by Bush Administration appointees.  The U.S. Attorney scandal and abuse of National Security Letters at the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) have reminded the nation about the importance of oversight.  The CJS Appropriations Billwould provide over $70 million for the DOJ’s Office of the Inspector General (IG) to better enable the IG to conduct audits and reviews of DOJ activities and programs and investigate ethical violations by DOJ officials. 

Improving America’s counterterrorism efforts. Safeguarding our nation from future terrorist attack is a chief priority of Democrats in the 110th Congress.  The Senate-passed CJS Appropriations Billwould provide more than $6 billion for the FBI, which has the mission of dismantling dirty bombs and terror cells on U.S. soil, including approximately $47 million to 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 analysts to the national security, homeland security, and law enforcement communities.  The bill would also provide nearly $80 million for the National Security Division, an agency that coordinates the DOJ’s national security and terrorism missions through law enforcement investigations and prosecutions. 

Combating the nation’s increase in violent crime by investing in traditional crime fighting programs. For years the law enforcement community has warned that Republican budget cuts to federal crime fighting programs would lead to an increase in violent crime.  This fear was realized in 2005 when the nation’s violent crime rate rose for the first time in nearly 15 years, followed by further increases in 2006.  Democrats are committed to ensuring that as the nation improves its counterterrorism efforts, we don’t lose focus on basic crime fighting.  Senate passed the CJS Appropriations Billwould begin to restore years of budget cuts to the FBI’s criminal investigation resources (like the task force approach to combating street crime and gang violence) which have been cut by nearly 30 percent since 2001.  The FBI account would include over $30 million for 167 positions, including 100 new agents to combat violent crime, and establish additional joint task forces to target violent crimes and gang violence.  The CJS Appropriations Bill would also begin to restore cuts to federal, state, and local law enforcement grant programs, like the Community Oriented Policing Services Program (COPS) ($660, including $110 million for officer hiring), the Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grants ($660 million), State Criminal Alien Assistance Program ($400 million), and Byrne Discretionary Grants ($190 million).  Each of these programs is used by law enforcement agencies to prevent, investigate, and prosecute violent and non-violent crime across the nation, thereby ensuring the safety of our families. 

Combating illegal drug sales and abuse.  The Senate-passed CJS Appropriations Billwould provide more than $2 billion for the Drug Enforcement Administration, which, in addition to other functions, assists state and local law enforcement in combating drug abuse, including methamphetamine usage, which has contributed to the rise in violent crime across the nation. 

Protecting women and children from violence. In the FBI’s account, the Senate-passed CJS Appropriations Billwould include more than $9 million, far more than the President’s budget would have provided, for the Innocent Images National Initiative to expand the number of agents investigating Internet-related crimes against children.  The bill would also provide nearly $400 million for the Office on Violence Against Women, which coordinates legislative and other initiatives amongst state, local, tribal, prosecutorial, advocacy, health care, and community  agencies/organizations in an effort to prevent, detect, and stop violence against women, including domestic violence, sexual assault, and/or stalking. 

Promoting economic development. The Senate-passed CJS Appropriations Billwould provide more than $280 million for the Economic Development Administration, which provides grants for economic development projects in economically-distressed communities and regions, such as the Gulf Coast states impacted by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005.  The bill also restores budget cuts sought by the Bush Administration to the Economic Development Assistance Programs, which have attracted billions of dollars in private sector investment for distressed communities and, in so doing, created or retained approximately 100,000 jobs.  

Protecting the environment by safeguarding the planet’s oceans and atmosphere. The Senate-passed CJS Appropriations Billwould provide more than $4 billion for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), an agency that promotes safe and efficient marine and air navigation; assesses the health of coastal and marine resources; and monitors and predicts coastal, ocean, and global environments (including weather forecasting); and protects and manages the nation’s coastal resources.

Keeping America competitive. The Senate-passed CJS Appropriations Billsupports comprehensive scientific research, technology, innovation, and educational programs that are vitally important to efforts to maintain our technological edge.  The measure would provide: 1) more than $6 billion for the National Science Foundation, which is the principal federal agency charged with promoting science and engineering education from pre-kindergarten through career development; and 2) more than $860 million for the National Institute of Standards and Technology, which assists 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.   

Improving weather satellites and the study of climate change. The Senate-passed CJS Appropriations Bill funds 85 percent of federal climate change research.  The bill also funds America’s satellites that provide climate and weather information which are critical to our understanding and prediction of changes in the Earth’s climate and oceans are aging and in need of improvement.

Maintaining America’s leadership in space. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is both a world leader in aviation and the pre-eminent space-faring agency in the world.  The Senate-passed CJS Appropriations Billwould distribute more than $17 billion for NASA to help ensure the safety of the next generation of space vehicles.  This bill would also help continue the expansion of the International Space Station and the growth of groundbreaking scientific research that takes place on the Space Station.

Democrats Investing in America’s Priorities:
Homeland Security

The Department of Homeland Security Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2008 provides $37.6 billion for homeland security programs, an increase of $2.2 billion over the President’s budget request and $2.8 billion more than the amount appropriated for Fiscal Year 2007, excluding emergency supplemental appropriations.  While the President’s budget would provide an increase of only 1.7 percent over last year’s funding level, the Senate-passed bill would provide an increase of 8 percent to improve disaster preparedness programs and better secure American borders, ports, and transit systems against terrorist threats.  The bill also provides an additional $3 billion in emergency spending for border security, not requested by the President. 

Key examples of Democratic investments in this bill include:

Reversing the Administration’s proposed cuts for critical state and local first responder grants and training programs.  The bill rejects the President’s proposed cuts for these critical homeland security grant programs, including a 52 percent cut in the State Formula Program, a 30 percent cut in the Local Law Enforcement Terrorism Prevention program, and a 45 percent cut to the Firefighter Equipment and Training (FIRE) Program. 

Bolstering homeland security grant funding to protect against terrorist attacks and natural disasters.  The bill provides a total of $1.93 billion over the President’s requested amount in order to restore proposed funding cuts for state and local first responder grants and training programs.  It also provides increases over Fiscal Year 2007, including: $50 million for the Urban Area Security Initiative, $80 million for port security grants, $125 million for rail and mass transit security grants, $13 million for Firefighter Equipment (FIRE) grants, $30 million for Firefighter Hiring (SAFER) grants, and $100 million for Emergency Management Performance Grants.

Addressing dangerous gaps in border security. The bill provides $3 billion in emergency spending, not requested by the President, to address unmet border security and immigration enforcement needs.  These funds will allow for the hiring of 23,000 new Border Patrol agents, emergency funding to complete 700 miles of border fencing, and resources for immigration enforcement efforts.

Enhancing security at our nation’s ports. The bill includes more than $300 million in additional funding for port security programs above the requested amount, including $190 million for port security grants; $15 million to increase the number of port security inspectors and double the frequency of spot checks at port facilities nationwide; $15 million to address the shortage of Coast Guard boats and personnel protecting our ports; $60 million to improve intelligence, information-sharing and coordination among federal, state and local maritime authorities. 

Providing explosive detection equipment at all airports. While the President proposed cutting funding for this program by 17 percent, the Senate-passed bill includes an additional $89.4 million to purchase and install explosives detection equipment at airports, for a total of $529.4 million.

Improving air cargo security.  The bill provides $66 million, $10 million above the amount requested by the President, to deploy additional canine teams and screening technology at airports across the country.

Strengthening FEMA.  The bill supports the President’s request for $100 million for FEMA to rebuild its core competencies and improve management.  It also provides $120 million for pre-disaster mitigation initiatives, which is $20 million above the requested amount.

Advancing chemical site security.  The bill provides $15 million more than the President’s budget request to address vulnerabilities in security at chemical facilities across the country.

Democrats Investing in America’s Priorities:
State and Foreign Operations

The Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2008 would provide a total of $34.4 billion in funding for State Department operations and foreign aid programs, as well as U.S. contributions to the United Nations, World Bank, and other international organizations.  This amount is nearly $2.725 billion more than the Fiscal Year 2007 funding level, but $700.7 million less than the President’s budget request.  The bill reduces funding for the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) to provide for more pressing funding needs for international peacekeeping, combating infectious diseases, and development initiatives. 

Key examples of Democratic investments in this bill include:

Combating HIV/AIDS.  The bill provides $5.1 billion, $940 million above the requested amount for HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, and care programs around the world.

Supporting international peacekeeping activities. The bill provides $1.35 billion, which is $245 million above the President’s request, to support peacekeeping operations around the globe, including Sudan, Liberia, The Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Haiti, Timor-Leste, the Middle East and Kosovo.

Supporting reconstruction in Afghanistan. The bill provides up to $1 billion for reconstruction programs in Afghanistan, which is equal to the budget request.

Bolstering development assistance.  The bill includes $1.455 billion, $413.75 million above the President’s request, for development assistance initiatives, including microenterprise development, agriculture, basic education, and environment and energy programs.

Enhancing child survival and maternal health initiatives. The bill includes $476.5 million for these programs, which is $58.5 million above the President’s request.

Strengthening democracy programs. The bill provides $872.5 million in support for countries in Eastern Europe, civil society assistance in Russia and Central Asia, and programs supported by the Democracy Fund for strengthening democracy around the globe.

Expanding educational and cultural exchange programs. The bill provides $509.5 million, $23 million above the amount requested by the President, for global educational and cultural exchange initiatives.

Providing International Disaster Assistance. The bill includes $322 million, $25 million above the President’s request, for programs to provide critical assistance during disasters and to prevent famines around the world.

Protecting biodiversity and investing in clean energy technology in developing countries.  The bill provides $195 million for programs to protect biodiversity, including tropical forests, and $195 million for clean energy, energy efficiency, and renewable energy technology programs in developing countries.

Supporting Diplomatic and Consular Programs (D&CP).  The bill provides $4.79 billion for D&CP, to fund State Department operations, including salaries and embassy security.  This amount is $63.8 million above last year’s funding level.

Addressing staffing shortfalls at USAID.  The bill includes $645.7 million for USAID operating expenses, which is $36.7 million above the President’s budget request, to meet the agency’s staffing needs.

Democrats Investing in America’s Priorities:
Transportation and Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Bill, Fiscal Year 2008

The Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, Fiscal Year 2008 (the “THUD Appropriations Bill”) would make key investments in the nation’s highway systems, securing our pipelines and railways, and providing housing services for those in need, the elderly, and veterans. The measure would allocate a total of $105.6 billion for THUD Appropriations Bill agencies, which is $5.3 billion above the Bush Administration’s Fiscal Year 2008 budget request.  

Investing in America’s roads and bridges.  The Senate-passed bill appropriates approximately $40.216 billion to the states for highway infrastructure.  Within that amount, the bill increases spending by almost $900 million for bridge replacement and rehabilitation.  The Senate also passed the Murray amendment (#2792) by a vote of 60 to 33 that will provide an additional $1 billion for bridge replacement and rehabilitation — a 25 percent increase in total funding for each state’s most critical bridge-related needs.

Expanding public transportation.  H.R.3074 provides $9.65 billion in total budget resources for the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to collaborate with municipal governments to construct public mass transit systems.  The funding level is $142 million more than the President’s budget request and will help relieve traffic congestion, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and improve quality of life particularly within urban areas.

Addressing flight delays and cancellations.  H.R.3074 provides $14.592 billion to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to modernize and improve air traffic control, improve and expand runways, and add more air safety staff. 

Creating jobs.  The THUD Appropriations Bill invests a total of $40.216 billion for federal aid for highways.   Previous studies from the Department of Transportation have shown that every billion dollars of federal investment in the nation’s transportation infrastructure supports and creates 47,500 jobs.

Improving safety on America’s roads.  Automobile accidents account for over 90 percent of all transportation-related fatalities and remain the leading cause of death and disability for Americans age three through thirty-three.  H.R.3074 allocates $826 million for NHTSA to establish and enforce vehicle safety standards as well as highway traffic safety grants and drunk driving prevention programs. 

Providing housing assistance to our neighbors in need.  Affordable housing is often the first step on the road to a safe and secure family life. For this reason, Section 8 funding is of vital importance to the more than two million low-income American families who receive housing assistance through the program.  H.R.3074 provides $16.4 billion for the Section 8 account to subsidize housing costs, provide relocation assistance and assist with job training.  The bill would also create a new voucher program to reunite families once separated due to a lack of adequate housing and assist youth 18 to 21 who are transitioning from foster care.  Beyond Section 8, the THUD Appropriations Bill would provide funding for projects that create housing for low-income elderly ($735 million) and disabled ($237 million) Americans. 

Sheltering those who have fought for our security.  Homeless veterans make up approximately 18 percent of all homeless adults who access emergency shelter or transitional housing.  Given the sacrifices they have made for our nation and the world, ensuring that veterans receive adequate and affordable housing is a key priority of Democrats in the 110th Congress.  As part of the Section 8 account, H.R.3074 provides $75 million in new housing vouchers for 7,500 homeless veterans, including those returning from Iraq.  This housing program is jointly sponsored by the Department of Veterans Affairs.  

Revitalizing communities across America.  Sound community development projects are essential to the viability and success of America’s neighborhoods and cities.  H.R.3074 rejects 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 nearly $4 billion for the CDBG program and $100 million for the Hope VI account, thereby saving the program from elimination. 


Protecting America’s children from lead poisoning.  H.R.3074 would provide $145 million for grants to state and local governments to conduct lead-based paint hazard reduction and abatement activities in private low-income housing.


Softening the impact of the nation’s subprime mortgage crisis.  From coast to coast, American families are facing a record number of mortgage payment delinquencies and foreclosures.  An estimated two million households may lose their homes to foreclosure this year and next, resulting in hundreds of billions of lost home equity.  As government, private sector, and individual citizens work to develop short- and long-term solutions to this crisis, Democrats are working to ensure Americans cannot only get a home, but can keep a home. H.R.3074 would provide $200 million for foreclosure-avoidance and loss mitigation services.