Senate Appropriations Committee Advances Spending Bills With Illinois Priorities Secured By Durbin, Duckworth
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) today announced that the Senate Appropriations Committee advanced two Fiscal Year 2024 appropriations bills for Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and Related Agencies; and Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies. Durbin and Duckworth worked to secure various priorities for Illinois in these appropriations bills, both through Congressionally Directed Spending requests and through the programmatic appropriations process.
“These bills make critical investments in Illinois. I’m glad the Senate Appropriations Committee was able to come together on a bipartisan basis to advance these bills, which will benefit families, communities, and the economy in Illinois,” Durbin said. “Senators and Representatives know their states and districts better than federal agency personnel in Washington, and I’m pleased we can deliver direct results through Congressionally Directed Spending. I will continue to work with my colleagues to see these projects across the finish line.”
“Our state and our nation are stronger when we invest in our communities and families—and that’s what these bipartisan funding bills do,” Duckworth said. “I’m proud I was able to help secure critical support for projects all throughout our state that expand healthcare access, improve our infrastructure, support our Veterans and keep our military strong.”
These funding bills include the following Illinois priorities secured by Congressionally Directed Spending requests:
Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies
- Capital Improvements, Peoria: $1.269 million to the National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (NCAUR), a federal lab that has been responsible for countless agriculture, food safety, environmental, and health care discoveries since its inception, for necessary modernizations to the federal buildings that house laboratories of the Agricultural Research Service.
- Capital Improvements, Urbana: $1.22 million to the Agricultural Research Service fornecessary repairs and modernizations to their facilities in Urbana, Illinois.
- Childhood Education and Childcare Center, Dixon: $1 million to the Dixon Family YMCA for the expansion of their early childhood program.
- Event Center, Simpson: $900,000 to the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois for an event center at the Dixon Springs Agricultural Center (DSAC), an existing 5,000-acre livestock, forestry, and agricultural demonstration facility in Southern Illinois.
- Fire Station, Carrier Mills: $375,000 to the Village of Carrier Mills to construct a new fire station large enough to allow all emergency and fire equipment to be housed together at the same indoor facility.
- Medical Clinic, Louisville: $800,000 to the Clay County Hospital and Medical Clinics to construct a new medical office building that is more than three times larger than the current facility, which was designed to be a one-provider office but currently houses three primary care providers.
- Rural Telemedicine Expansion, Eastern Illinois: $750,000 to OSF HealthCare to expand a rural telemedicine program to underserved rural areas in Champaign, Vermillion and Douglas Counties.
Military Construction and Veterans Affairs
- General Richard L. Jones National Guard Readiness Center Alteration, Chicago: $5 million for planning and design for major alternations to the General Richard L. Jones National Guard Readiness Center.
- National Guard Vehicle Maintenance Shop, Bloomington: $5.25 million to complete construction of a vehicle maintenance shop to support operations for the Illinois Army National Guard in Bloomington.
- North Riverside Access Control Building, North Riverside: $3.4 million for construction of a new access control building at the North Riverside Armory, which supports a large Chicagoland installation of multiple Illinois Army Guard Brigades.
- Peoria Readiness Center, Peoria: $2.4 million for planning and design for a new readiness center facility for the Illinois Army Guard in Peoria.
These funding bills include additional Illinois priorities through the programmatic appropriations process:
Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies
- Food Safety Outreach Program: $10 million to provide food safety training and technical assistance, education, and extension to owners and operators of small farms, small food processors, and small fruit and vegetable vendors affected by the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).
- Agricultural Research Activities: $455 million to provide competitive grant funding to support critical research priorities addressing issues of national, regional, and multi-state importance to the safety, sustainability, and quality of American agriculture with a special emphasis on human nutrition and obesity reduction, food safety, sustainable bioenergy, global food security, and climate change.
- Agricultural Research Service: $1.792 billion to fill research vacancies and advance critical research priorities in food safety, crop production, and crop protection programs within the Agriculture Research Service (ARS).
- Animal Welfare: $37.5 million for USDA to, among other activities, follow through with the recommended improvements identified in an audit performed by USDA’s Inspector General in May 2010, detailing serious shortcomings in the ability of Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s Animal Care Unit to effectively address problematic dog dealers and ensure their compliance with minimum humane care standards.
- USDA Food Safety Activities: $1.205 billion to carry out food safety inspection, surveillance, and data collection activities conducted within USDA.
- Plant Health, Tree and Wood Pests: $62.6 million to help identify and contain wood-boring pests threatening tree health across the country, including the Emerald Ash Borer.
- ReConnect Program: $98 million to support loans and grants that facilitate broadband deployment in rural areas without sufficient broadband access at minimum speeds of 25 Mbps/3 Mbps.
- McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program: $248 million to support education, child development, and food security among the world’s most vulnerable children, particularly among girls.
- Food for Peace: $1.8 billion to meet emergency food needs around the world.
- Local and Regional Procurement: $24.8 million to provide food aid commodities more quickly and at a lower cost by procuring them locally or regionally instead of shipping overseas.
- Overall FDA Funding Level: Direct appropriations of $3.55 billion as well as an additional $3.07 billion in FDA user fees collected from prescription drug companies, generic drugs, medical devices, animal drugs, and tobacco products.
- Food Safety Activities: More than $1.5 billion for food safety oversight.
- Drug Shortages: $3.75 million for FDA to address nationwide drug shortages, especially forcritical cancer drugs.
- ALS: An additional $2.5 million for FDA to further implement ACT for ALS, which requires FDA to publish and implement a five-year action plan to foster drug development and facilitate access to investigational drugs for ALS and other rare neurodegenerative diseases.
- E-Cigarette/Menthol: The bill includes tobacco report language Durbin supports, including language to compel FDA to act more quickly to remove unauthorized e-cigarette and synthetic nicotine products from the market, increase transparency around products under review, and deny any product that is not appropriate for the protection of the public health. The report language also commends FDA for issuing proposed rules to prohibit menthol flavoring in cigarettes and cigars, and urges FDA to quickly finalize these regulations.
- Drug Promotion/Advertising: The bill includes Durbin’s report language directing FDA to improve its oversight of promotional activities by pharmaceutical companies, including the practice of sales representatives marketing directly to physicians.
Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies
- Caregivers Program: $2.4 billion 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.
- Information Technology Systems: $6.4 billion to develop, modernize, and enhance the technology systems used by the VA, including the Veterans Benefits Management System, which aims to reduce the existing claims backlog and enhance claims processing.
- Medical and Prosthetic Research: $984 million to advance and promote the health and care of veterans through the development of cutting-edge treatments in a host of areas, including post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injury, wounded warrior care, and now greater support for toxic exposure research. This amount includes $46 million from the Toxic Exposures Fund created under the PACT Act.
- State Home Construction Grant Program: $164 million for critical renovations and updates to existing State Veterans Homes and to construct new facilities to serve the aging veteran population.
- PFAS blood testing: report language was included directing the VA to report to Congress its guidance for blood testing military firefighters for exposure to PFAS in firefighting foam.
- Smoke-Free VA: report language was included that supports the Veterans Health Administration’s smoke-free policies at VA medical facilities.
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