Durbin Announces Illinois Priorities Included in Omnibus Appropriations Bill Passed by Congress
[WASHINGTON, D.C.] - U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced that the Consolidated and Further Appropriations Act of 2016 was passed by the Senate. The bill was passed by the House earlier today and will need to be signed by the President to become law.
“Thanks to the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, critical investments in the middle-class, our veterans, and the nation’s infrastructure and scientific research programs were part of today’s Omnibus Appropriations bill,” said Durbin. “From important research at our national laboratories to highway construction projects throughout our state, this bill will create Illinois jobs and keep America’s economic growth on track.”
According to Durbin, the following projects, programs and provisions - listed with the cities, towns or regions they primarily impact - are beneficial to Illinois:
Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations
Department of Transportation
- TIGER Grant Program, Statewide / Nationwide: $500 million in nationwide funding for the Transportation Infrastructure Grants and Economic Reinvestment (TIGER) grant program allows local communities to apply directly to the DOT for funding of nationally significant transportation projects. This program is especially helpful to communities engaged in multimodal projects that improve connections to different transportation networks. Several projects have been funded under the TIGER grant program in Illinois including: The Normal Multimodal Transportation Center, the Peoria Warehouse District, the CREATE project and the Tri-City Port in Madison County Illinois.
- Amtrak, Statewide / Nationwide: $1.39 billion in nationwide funding for Amtrak. By providing adequate funding to Amtrak, more than 500 communities in 46 states across the country will continue to see improved passenger rail service.
- Highway Investments, Statewide / Nationwide: $42.4 billion in nationwide funding for the Federal Highway program. This funding is at the FAST Act fully authorized level. Federal funding comprises 80% of the funds included in the Illinois Department of Transportation’s multi-year highway improvement program.
- Transit Investments, Statewide / Nationwide: $9.3 billion in nationwide funding for formula funded accounts. This funding is at the FAST Act fully authorized level.
- Core Capacity Program, Chicago / Nationwide: $50 million for a competitive grant program Senator Durbin created as part of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) which was signed into law in 2012. This program establishes a new category for capital investment projects by authorizing core capacity projects, like the planned rebuilding of the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA)’s Red and Purple Lines.
- Airport Investments, Statewide / Nationwide: $3.35 billion in nationwide funding for capital investments grants at airports around the country. Federal aid funding supports airport improvement projects around the state of Illinois including the O’Hare Modernization Program at O’Hare International Airport, noise mitigation measures at Midway International Airport, runway improvements at Chicago / Rockford International Airport and Quad City International Airport and safety improvements at Peoria International Airport.
- FAA Emergency Response Review: $8.8 million in funding for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to implement the agency’s review of security and emergency response times at air traffic control facilities following the fire incident at the Chicago Air Route Traffic Control Center in September 2014.
- Crude Transported by Rail, Nationwide: Funding is included to continue emergency preparedness grants for local communities; web-based training for first responders, and provides funding short line railroad safety. This legislation also requires the Transportation Secretary to finalize a rule on comprehensive oil spill response plans within a year.
- Rail Safety, Nationwide: $50 million for grants promoting rail safety which includes $25 million for Railroad Safety Infrastructure Improvement Grants; and $25 million for railroad safety technology grants (PTC). The legislation also increases highway-railroad grade crossings to $350 million, and funds a $6.5 million media campaign for highway-rail grade crossing safety.
Department of Housing and Urban Development
- Homeless Assistance Grants, Statewide / Nationwide: $2.25 billion in nationwide funding to maintain services for those currently receiving homeless assistance and to promote communitywide commitment to the goal of ending homelessness.
- Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS, Statewide / Nationwide: $335 million in nationwide funding for the Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program which provides housing assistance and related supportive services to local units of government, States and non-profit organizations for projects that benefit low-income persons medically diagnosed with HIV/AIDS and their families.
- Community Development Block Grant, Statewide / Nationwide: $3 billion in nationwide funding for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program which provides annual grants to states and local governments to develop viable urban communities by providing decent housing and a suitable living environment and by expanding economic opportunities principally for low and moderate income persons. CDBG funding is an important tool for helping local governments to tackle serious challenges facing their communities.
- HOME Program, Statewide / Nationwide: $950 million in nationwide funding for the HOME program which helps to expand the supply of decent, affordable housing to low-income and very low-income families by providing grants to state and local governments to fund housing programs that meet local needs and priorities. HOME is the largest federal block grant to state and local governments designed exclusively to create affordable housing for low-income households.
Energy and Water Appropriations
Army Corps of Engineers
- Melvin Price Lock and Dam, Metro East: Report language was included to continue third party oversight of the Army Corps of Engineers while they work to fix the portions of the Wood River Levee that have been negatively impacted by a design deficiency in the construction of the Melvin Price Dam.
- Metro East Levees, Metro East: Report language was included calling for “heightened cooperation” by the Corps for the levee projects in Metro East, noting the non-Federal sponsors have raised sufficient cost-share.
- Wood River Levee, Wood River: $50,000 in funding to continue design and potentially construction of levee improvements to provide the authorized level of protection it provides during a flood. The project is located in the Mississippi River floodplain of Madison County, upstream of the city of East St. Louis.
- East St. Louis Levees, East St. Louis: $50,000 in funding for the design, construction and rehabilitation of levees that provide flood protection to 200,000 residents and over $1 billion in economic value.
- Calumet Harbor and River, Chicago: $4.506 million in funding for operations and maintenance of the Calumet Harbor breakwaters. Repairs to the navigation structures are critical for the safe towing of river barges between Calumet Harbor and three Indiana ports. An additional $300,000 was included for construction work at the Harbor.
- Carlyle Lake, Carlyle: $5.837 million in funding for operations and maintenance at Carlyle Lake, the largest man-made lake in Illinois, with over 26,000 acres of water and 11,000 acres of public land. Funding is needed to provide flood control, water quality control, and water supply to nearby communities as well as recreation and fish and wildlife conservation. The lake was critical to maintaining water levels on the Mississippi River during recent historic low water events. This project is situated in Clinton, Fayette, Bond, and Marion Counties.
- Chicago Harbor, Chicago: $3.735 million in funding for operation and maintenance of the Chicago Lock, used by commercial towboat and deep draft barges and well as government, passenger and recreational vessels.
- Chicago Ship and Sanitary Canal Aquatic Nuisance Species Barrier System, Chicago: $28 million in funding to continue operation of the barrier system to eliminate invasive aquatic nuisance species such as the Asian carp and to continue construction of permanent barriers.
- Farm Creek Reservoirs, East Peoria: $296,000 in funding for continued operation of two dry reservoirs along tributary streams of the Illinois River. This system provides necessary flood control for East Peoria.
- Illinois River Basin Restoration, Peoria: $400,000 in funding to continue planning and construction to restore and conserve the ecological integrity of the Illinois River, including the reduction of sediment delivery, restoring side channels and backwaters, restoring floodplain riparian and aquatic habitat and function, and improving water and sediment quality.
- Interbasin Control of Great Lakes-Mississippi River Aquatic Nuisance Species, Chicago: $500,000 in funding to continue a study, including consultations with appropriate Federal, State, local and non-governmental agencies, on the range of options and technologies to prevent the inter-basin transfer of aquatic nuisance species.
- Kaskaskia River Basin, Central Illinois: $4.148 million for restoring and preserving the natural watershed. This project serves navigation, recreation, fish and wildlife and habitat restoration functions.
- Lake Shelbyville, Shelbyville: $6.208 million in funding to provide dam maintenance, flood control, water supply, recreation, conservation of fish and wildlife, and water quality control and augment navigation flows downstream on the Kaskaskia River.
- McCook and Thornton Reservoirs, Chicago: $9 million in funding for continued construction of the McCook Reservoir in the Chicago Underflow Plan. This project benefits the City of Chicago and 36 suburban communities by reducing untreated sewage back flow into Lake Michigan and reducing basement flooding by protecting nearly 150,000 structures.
- Rend Lake, Rend Lake: $5.606 million in funding to provide flood control, water supply, recreation, conservation of fish and wildlife, and area redevelopment. This project is located near Benton, Illinois, in Franklin and Jefferson Counties.
- Upper Mississippi River Restoration, Western Illinois: $19.787 million in funding for continued ecosystem restoration along the Upper Mississippi River.
Department of Energy
- Basic Energy Science, Argonne / Nationwide: $1.8 billion in funding for the Office of Science’s Basic Energy Science account which is Argonne National Laboratory’s largest single-source funding source, and accounts for approximately 40 percent of the lab’s funding;
- Energy Innovation Hub for Batteries and Energy Storage, Argonne: $24.1 million for the Energy Innovation Hub for Batteries and Energy Storage. In November 2012, Argonne National Laboratory was selected to receive an award of up to $120 million over five years to create the Hub, also known as the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR), which is a partnership including University of Chicago, the University of Illinois, the City of Chicago, and private firms and townships in Illinois. The project will establish Illinois as a leader in a multi-billion dollar, developing industry that has potential to stimulate substantial employment and economic growth.
- Advanced Photon Source Upgrade, Argonne / Nationwide: $20 million for Advanced Photon Source, a sophisticated x-ray beam that companies, universities, and other research institutions use to conduct break-through research to discover new energy materials, pharmaceuticals, and security infrastructure and transportation.
- Advanced Scientific Computing Research, Argonne / Nationwide: $621 million in funding for the Office of Science’s Advanced Scientific Computing Research account, which supports Argonne’s National Laboratory’s supercomputer initiatives including $77 million for the operations of Argonne’s Leadership Computing Facility.
- High Energy Physics, Fermilab / Nationwide: $795 million in funding for the Office of Science’s High Energy Physics account which is the primary source of funding for Fermilab, and accounts for approximately 90 percent of the lab’s funding;
- Long Baseline Neutrino Experiment, Fermilab / Nationwide: $26 million in funding is included for the Long Baseline Neutrino Experiment, a primary focus at Fermilab. Research in neutrinos represents the next frontier of particle physics.
- The Muon to Electron Experiment, Fermilab / Nationwide: $40 million in funding is included for the Muon to Electron Experiment which could result in the development of a revolutionary technology in the field.
- Uranium & Thorium Cleanup, West Chicago: $32.9 million for the Department of Energy’s Title X program, which pays contractors to clean up legacy defense sites across the country, including the site in West Chicago. The Committee has also included language that directs the Department of Energy to provide funding for the program in future budgets.
Homeland Security Appropriations
Department of Homeland Security
- AFG & SAFER Grant Programs, Nationwide: $690 million in nationwide funding for the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Program and the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Program. The AFG Program seeks to strengthen the nation’s overall level of preparedness and ability to respond to fire and fire related hazards. Since 2001, the AFG has provided approximately $5.25 billion in federal funding to first-responder organizations across the country to help purchase response equipment, personal protective equipment, training, and vehicles. The SAFER program seeks to enhance a department’s ability to maintain 24-hour staffing and ensures that the community has adequate protection from fire and fire-related hazards.
Department of the Interior
- Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI), Great Lakes Region: $300 million in funding for the GLRI to support the inter-agency program to address issues affecting the Great Lakes, including invasive species and pollution. The bill also authorizes the GLRI for one year.
- Pullman National Monument, Chicago: $2.4 billion in funding for the National Park Service, including funding to support the newly designated Pullman National Monument in Chicago, Illinois and Honouliuli National Monument in Honolulu, Hawaii.
- Sewage Dumping in the Great Lakes, Great Lakes Region: Language in the legislation requires all water treatment systems with combined sewer overflow events that flow into the Great Lakes to report such flows into the surrounding states. The language also requires the offending system to work with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to find ways to prevent future overflows from occurring. In 2013, Durbin cosponsored legislation – the Great Lakes Water Protection Act – that would end sewage dumping in the Great Lakes by 2033.
- Aquatic Habitat and Species Conservation, Nationwide: $74.9 million in funding to encourage habitat and species conservation and restoration, as well as combat the spread of invasive species such as Asian carp and zebra mussels. This amount includes $7.9 million for Asian carp activities.
Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations
Department of the Army
- Army Family Housing, Rock Island Arsenal: $29 million to construct 38 single family housing units at Rock Island Arsenal. These units will replace family housing units that have exceeded their useful and economic life. Without these new homes, service members relocating to the Arsenal would not be able to find adequate, affordable units within the housing market area.
- Army National Guard Firing Range, Sparta, Illinois: $1.9 million for a new firing range for the Illinois National Guard. The Guard currently lacks a facility for this type of small arms training in south central Illinois.
Department of Veterans Affairs
- Medical & Prosthetic Research, Nationwide: $630.7 million investment in the Veterans Affairs Medical and Prosthetic research program which will help improve quality of life for veterans and quality of care. Senator Durbin included an amendment in the legislation which provided an increase in this funding to represent 5% plus inflation over last year’s levels. The increase is consistent with the goals set forward by Senator Durbin’s American Cures Act, which he introduced in January 2015. That legislation calls for consistent investment—5% plus inflation—over 10 years for NIH, CDC, VA’s Medical and Prosthetic Research Program, and Defense Health Programs
- Caregivers Initiative, Nationwide: The legislation includes language to ensure there is a dedicated Caregivers coordinator at each VA health facility; encourage the VA to examine expansion of the program beyond the post-9/11 population; encourage the VA to engage with the Department of Defense about its caregivers program, to share best practices; and direct the VA to survey all VA caregivers to identify the number possession outstanding student loan debt and develop a plan to monitor the issue, including future data collection. Funding will be allocated through the legislation to expand benefits and services for caregivers to include health care and mental health services, training adapted to the veterans’ individual care needs, and a direct stipend payment. The Family Caregiver Program was created by a Durbin-authored provision in the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act of 2009. These initiatives are leading to retention of better trained and more qualified caregivers, thus enhancing long-term care provided to veterans.
- Orthotics & Prosthetics Workforce Improve, Nationwide: Report language is included to require the VA to explore cost-effective opportunities to grow the orthotics and prosthetics workforce pipeline and report back to the Senate and House Appropriations Committees within 180-days of enactment. The language follows Durbin-authored legislation to enhance research in best practices and offer competitive grant funding to colleges and universities offering degree programs to train specialists in orthotic and prosthetic care.
- Reducing the Disability Claims Backlog, Nationwide: $2.7 billion in funding to the Veterans Benefits Administration which is a full funding of the agency’s operations that include initiatives to address the backlog of disability claims such as the move from a paper-based claims process to a digital environment. This funding level represents $166 million more than fiscal year 2015 funding.
- Whistleblower Protections, Nationwide: The bill would close a loophole that harms VA personnel who have experienced whistleblower retaliation in the form of negative personnel evaluation, giving the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) the power to investigate these reviews as part of the potential retaliatory personnel actions that OSC currently has authority over. The bill would also require the VA to inform all employees of their rights with respect to reporting wrongdoings and whistleblower protections.
Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations
Department of Health and Human Services
- Opioid Abuse Prevention, Nationwide: $3.8 billion for Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) which includes $47 million directed to addressing the burgeoning epidemic of prescription drug and heroin overdose: $25 million – an increase of $13 million – for medication assisted treatment in high-risk states, $12 million for naloxone distribution in 10 states; and $10 million for prevention efforts in up to 20 states that will build awareness of prescription drugs.
- Children’s Hospitals Graduate Medical Education, Chicago / Nationwide: $295 million (an increase in $30 million over FY2015) in nationwide funding to children’s hospitals for residency programs that train the pediatric workforce. Children’s Memorial Hospital in Chicago, Illinois has previously benefitted from this program.
- Community Health Centers, Statewide / Nationwide: $5.1 billion for Community Health Centers nationwide.
Department of Education
- Impact Aid, North Chicago / Nationwide: $1.3 billion in nationwide funding for Impact Aid, including $66 million for Federal property payments. This program provides assistance to school districts that have lost tax revenue due to tax-exempt federal properties or that experience increased expenditures due to the enrollment of federally connected children, such as those living on military installations. This funding is critical for school districts in Illinois such as the North Shore School District who enroll hundreds of children from nearby military installations.
- Pell Grant, Statewide / Nationwide: With funding under the bill, the maximum Pell grant for 2015-2016 is estimated to be $5,915. That is an increase of more than $100 over the previous year. Pell Grants help keep college within reach for millions of low income students each year, including nearly 400,000 Illinois students in 2011-12.
Department of Agriculture
- Plant Health, Tree and Wood Pests, Statewide / Nationwide: $54 million to help identify and contain wood-boring pests threatening tree health across the country, 19 of which have been detected in the past decade, including the Emerald Ash Borer. Included in the funding are resources to identify and contain Emerald Ash Borer infestations and to increase public awareness of the threat in Illinois and 14 other states.
Food and Drug Administration
- Food Safety Modernization Act Implementation, Nationwide: $104.5 million in funding for implementation of the Food Safety Modernization Act. This funding increase will allow FDA to improve compliance and inspection programs and allow FDA to invest in tools to significantly cut the time it takes to respond to complex food safety issues. Senator Durbin’s Food Safety Modernization Act was first introduced in 2008 and the bill was signed into law in January 2011. When the bill was introduced, 48 million Americans suffer from preventable foodborne illness each year. FDA is still in the process of implementing the improved requirements included in the bill.
Financial Services and General Government Appropriations
- Consumer Product Safety Commission, Nationwide: $125 million in nationwide funding for the nation’s leading consumer protection watchdog in its work to protect the public from unreasonable risks of serious injury or death from thousands of types of consumer products. The bill also encourages the limitation and reduction of flame retardant chemicals. In 2012, the Commission released a study that indicates that flame retardant chemicals, as currently used in upholstered furniture foam, have no practical impact on flammability. In July 2012, Durbin chaired a hearing on the safety and effectiveness of flame retardant chemicals, following a Chicago Tribune four-part investigative report on flame retardant chemicals and furniture flammability standards which explored the role of Big Tobacco and their attempt to shift the focus from cigarettes as the cause of fire deaths. Chemical companies, which sought to preserve a lucrative market for their products, teamed with the tobacco industry and state fire marshals to steer policymakers away from developing fire-safe cigarette standards and toward rules requiring furniture flammability standards.
- Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI), Nationwide: $233.5 million for the CDFI to promote access to capital and local economic growth in urban and rural low-income communities by providing seed money for community development projects in communities unserved or underserved by traditional financial institutions. Of this funding, $19 million was provided for the Bank Enterprise Award program, which provides a financial incentive to insured depository institutions to undertake community development financing activities.
Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations
Department of Justice
- Thomson Prison, Quad Cities: Includes the full amount of capital and operating needs to continue the opening of the prison. The legislation gives the Bureau of Prisons $6.95 billion for salaries and expenses which is the funding necessary to allocate roughly $83 million requested for Thomson Prison.
- Preventing Gun Violence, Chicago / Statewide / Nationwide: $1.1 billion in nationwide funding to enhance efforts to protect our communities from gun violence. This includes $840 million, an increase of $42 million, for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to enforce gun laws, trace crime guns, investigate illegal gun trafficking and keep schools safe. The bill also provides $114 million to the Federal Bureau of Investigation to run instant criminal background checks for gun purchases; provides $73 million in grants for states to improve submission of criminal and mental health records to the background check database; and provides $75 million for a comprehensive school safety initiative to help schools conduct safety assessments.
- Addressing the Heroin Crisis, Statewide / Nationwide: $7 million for a program within the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) office for competitive grants to anti-heroin task forces.
- Second Chance Act Prisoner Reentry Programs, Chicago / Statewide / Nationwide: $68 million for prisoner reentry programs pursuant to the Second Chance Act of 2007, in addition to $27.5 million for criminal justice reform and recidivism reduction efforts.
- Prosecutor and Public Defender Student Loan Repayment, Nationwide: $2 million in funding to the John R. Justice student loan repayment program. The funding will be used to help prosecutor and public defender offices retain and attract talented attorneys by providing student loan repayment assistance to state and federal public defenders and state prosecutors who agree to remain in their positions for at least three years. The program was created by legislation that Durbin first introduced in 2003 and that was passed into law as part of the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008.
Department of Commerce
- Economic Development Assistance Program, Nationwide: $222 million in nationwide funding for the Economic Development Assistance Program which provides crucial grants to states, localities, non-profit organizations and others to create jobs in economically challenged areas. The Economic Development Administration has long invested in a wide variety of construction and non-construction economic development tools – from revolving loan funds to public infrastructure
Department of Defense
- Humvee Ambulances, Quad Cities: $60 million for the production of Humvee ambulances at Rock Island Arsenal.
- Industrial Mobilization Capacity (IMC), Quad Cities: $145 million in funding for Industrial Mobilization Capacity (IMC) to help arsenals keep their work rates competitive. This funding helps Rock Island Arsenal and other arsenals compete more effectively for public-private partnerships and other business to help sustain capacity, cost efficiency and technical competence in peacetime, while preserving the ability to provide an effective and timely response to mobilizations, national defense contingency situations and other emergent requirements. Durbin included a similar provision in the FY14 & FY15 Department of Defense Appropriations Bills, which were both funded in the final legislation.
- Maintaining a Minimum Workload, Quad Cities: The legislation requires the Secretary of the Army to maintain a minimum workload at Rock Island Arsenal (and the arsenals in New York and Arkansas). The legislation also directs the Secretary of Defense to review opportunities within other services and the Defense Logistics Agency to maximize workloads at arsenals.
- Production of F/A-18s & E/A-18Gs, St. Louis Region: $1.01 billion in funding for the production of five F/A-18s ($350million) and seven E/A-18Gs ($660 million). The Navy has identified a need for additional F/A-18s and E/A-18Gs as part of its FY16 unfunded requests list, as well as an ongoing need for electronic attack capability. Production of F/A-18s and E/A-18Gs is based at Boeing’s St. Louis plant, which employs thousands of workers, including 2,000 from Illinois. In addition, the bill includes an additional $8 million for F-18 generator upgrades.
- Lovell Federal Health Care Center, North Chicago: $121 million to extend the DOD-VA pilot program at Lovell Federal Health Care Center for a fifth year. Since 1999, Durbin has played a major role in the development and implementation of the Lovell Federal Health Care Center, which serves as an integrated healthcare facility for both servicemembers and veterans in the North Chicago region.
- Illinois National Guard, Peoria: $33.2 million to accelerate nationwide engine upgrades and enhancements to C-130H aircraft, eight of which are flown by the 182nd Air National Guard wing based in Peoria, Illinois. These upgrades will reduce the need for repairs to the C-130H aircraft, and will also make them more powerful and energy efficient.
- Illinois National Guard, Rantoul: $5.207 million in funding for the National Guard Youth ChalleNGe Program. ChalleNGe academics – including Lincoln's ChalleNGe Academy in Rantoul, Illinois – give at-risk youths who have dropped out of high school a second chance at completing their education using a military model. Since its founding in 1993, 35 ChalleNGe academies across the country have graduated more than 120,000 participants.
- Ammunition Production, East Alton / Marion: The bill maintains funding for numerous ammunition lines – including lines produced at Olin Brass in East Alton, Illinois and General Dynamics in Marion, Illinois – which are critical to the safety of our troops overseas.
- Army Corps of Engineers, Champaign: The bill supports President Obama’s budget request for the Army Corps of Engineers Research Center in Champaign, Illinois. The Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (CERL) concentrates on improving the design and effectiveness of Army installations and ranges, making them more resilient, efficient and affordable. CERL research and products also improve environmental sustainability while contributing to other Army Corps Research Center priorities.
- Orthotics and Prosthetics Outcomes Research, Nationwide: $10 million in funding for Department of Defense research into orthotics and prosthetics. Just as investing in basic and advanced science has paid great dividends, similar investments in medical research and battlefield medicine are saving more lives while improving care options and quality of life after injuries. This knowledge helps better inform treatment for everyone.
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