Congresswoman Terri Sewell

Representing the 7th District of Alabama
 

Rep. Sewell Secures Key Wins in Government Funding Packages

Dec 17, 2019
Press Release
The House-passed measures are expected to be signed into law

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell (AL-07) released the following statement today following the House passage of 12 appropriations bills for fiscal year 2020 and an accompanying tax package. The appropriations package contains nearly $1.2 billion that Sewell directly worked with House appropriators to secure.

“The legislation the House passed today reflects a bipartisan commitment to historic preservation, rural wastewater infrastructure, education and more – all important wins for Alabama’s 7th Congressional District,” Sewell said. “We also secured funding for critical improvements to wastewater infrastructure in the district, building upon our long-term commitment to ensuring all Alabama residents have access to basic wastewater sanitation.”

“While I am pleased that many priorities for the 7th District were included in this year's bill, I share the concerns of many of my Democratic colleagues related to the cost of this legislation and funding for the Department of Homeland Security,” Sewell said. “We must do more to limit funding for this Administration's destructive and cruel anti-immigrant policies.”

The domestic priorities and international assistance appropriations minibus, H.R. 1865, reflects conference agreements for eight appropriations bills: Labor-Health and Human Services-Education, Agriculture, Energy and Water Development, Interior-Environment, Legislative Branch, Military Construction-Veterans Affairs, State-Foreign Operations, and Transportation-Housing and Urban Development. The national security appropriations minibus, H.R. 1158, reflects conference agreements for four appropriations bills: Defense, Commerce-Justice-Science, Financial Services and General Government, and Homeland Security.

Key priorities Sewell secured in the legislation include:

  • $1.45 billion for rural water and waste program loans, which is an increase of $50 million since 2019.  
  • $5 million for Sewell’s Rural Septic Tank Access Act, which passed in the 2018 Farm Bill and will be used to provide grants to improve rural decentralized water systems and water wells. This is a new appropriation.
  • $5 million for a pilot program to provide grants to a regional wastewater consortium to fund technical assistance and construction of regional wastewater systems by engineering experts at University of Alabama, University of South Alabama and Auburn University.
  • $18 million for competitive grants to preserve the sites and stories of the Civil Rights Movement, an increase of over $4 million over the 2019 enacted level.  
  • $5 billion for the allocation authority New Markets Tax Credit, an allocation authority increase of $1.5 billion, and an extension of the tax credit through 2020. This expansion was included in Sewell’s New Markets Tax Credit Extension Act of 2019, H.R. 1680.
  • Language to protect the tax-exempt status of rural electric cooperatives, which was threatened due to an unintended consequence of the hastily-passed GOP tax law. This language was originally introduced in Sewell’s RURAL Act, H.R. 2147. This will ensure these co-ops can retain their tax-exempt status when applying for grants to expand rural broadband or disaster assistance.

Sewell was also successful in securing funding for the following programs (by category):

 

RURAL WASTEWATER INFRASTRUCTURE AND OTHER AGRICULTURE PRIORITIES

  • $1.45 billion for rural water and waste program loans, which is an increase of $50 million since 2019.  
  • $659 million for the Rural Utilities Service Rural Water and Waste Disposal Program Account.
  • $545 million for water and waste grants for clean and reliable drinking water systems.
  • $5 million for Sewell’s Rural Septic Tank Access Act, which passed in the 2018 Farm Bill and will be used to provide grants to improve rural decentralized water systems and water wells. This is a new appropriation.
  • $5 million for a pilot program to provide grants to a regional wastewater consortium to fund technical assistance and construction of regional wastewater systems by engineering experts at University of Alabama, University of South Alabama and Auburn University. The program will benefit historically impoverished communities that have had difficulty installing traditional wastewater treatment systems due to soil conditions. This is a new program.
  • $640 million for the expansion of broadband services to provide economic development opportunities and improved education and healthcare services.
  • Critical funding for food and nutrition programs, including:
    • $67 billion in mandatory spending for SNAP,
  • $23 billion in mandatory funding for Child Nutrition Programs. This is $474 million above the 2019 enacted level.
    • $6 billion for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).

 

HISTORIC PRESERVATION

  • $118 million for the Historic Preservation Fund, which is an increase of $15 million from the 2019 enacted level, including:
    • $18 million for competitive grants to preserve the sites and stories of the Civil Rights Movement, an increase of over $4 million over the 2019 enacted level.  
    • $10 million for the historic preservation of HBCUs, an increase of $2 million over the 2019 enacted level.

 

EDUCATION AND WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT

  • $26 million for the HBCU Capital Financing Program Deferment Authority’s Historically Black College and University Capital Financing Program Account.
  • $2.5 billion for higher education programs, an increase of $163 million above the 2019 enacted level. Within this amount, the bill provides:
    • $325 million for HBCUs, an increase of $42 million above the 2019 enacted level and
    • $1.1 billion for federal TRIO programs, which provide academic tutoring, personal counseling, mentoring, financial guidance and other supports necessary for educational access and retention. This is a $30 million increase above the 2019 enacted level.
  • $1.7 billion for Job Corps, $25 million above the 2019 enacted level.
  • $40.1 billion for K-12 education programs, an increase of $1.2 billion above the 2019 enacted level. Included in that funding is:
    • $16.3 billion for Title I Grants to Local Educational Agencies, an increase of $450 million above the 2019 enacted level, and
    • $10.6 billion for Head Start, an increase of $550 million from the 2019 enacted level.
    • $365 million for GEAR UP, an increase of $30 million above the 2019 enacted level.
  • $24.5 billion for Federal student aid programs.
  • $6,345 for the maximum Pell Grant (increase of $150 over the 2019 enacted)
  • $865 million for the Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant program
  • $1.2 billion for Federal Work Study 
  • $1.7 billion for Job Corps, $25 million above the 2019 enacted level.
  • $175 million for Registered Apprenticeships, an increase of $15 million above the 2019 enacted level and $10 million above the President’s budget request.

 

HEALTH CARE

  • $335 million to advance the mission of NIH’s National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD). NIMHD leads scientific research to improve minority health and reduce health status and health care delivery, including racial groups, rural populations, low-income populations and others.
  • $59 million for the Office of Minority Health within the Department of Health and Human Services.
  • $5 million for KidneyX, a new public-private partnership to accelerate the development and adoption of novel therapies and technologies to improve the diagnosis and treatment of kidney diseases.
  • $3.1 billion for HIV/AIDS research.
  • $80 billion for VA medical care, including:
    • $300 million for rural health initiatives
    • $222 million for suicide prevention and outreach
  • $40 million for HUD/VA supportive housing for homeless veterans.
  • $944 million for programs to improve maternal and child health, including an additional $5 million to reduce maternal mortality

 

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

  • $5 billion for the allocation authority New Markets Tax Credit, an allocation authority increase of $1.5 billion, and an extension of the tax credit through 2020. This expansion was included in Sewell’s New Markets Tax Credit Extension Act of 2019, H.R. 1680.
  • Language to protect the tax-exempt status of rural electric cooperatives, which was threatened due to an unintended consequence of the hastily-passed GOP tax law. This language was originally introduced in Sewell’s RURAL Act, H.R. 2147. This will ensure these co-ops can retain their tax-exempt status when applying for grants to expand rural broadband or disaster assistance.
  • $3.4 billion for Community Development Block Grants to expand economic opportunities and improve living environments in urban areas.

 

RETIREMENT

  • Included in the accompanying tax package is the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE Act), H.R. 1994, legislation aimed at making it easier for small businesses to offer retirement plans to their employees, providing retirement benefit opportunities to home care workers, allowing long-time, part-time workers to participate in a 401(k) plan and much more.
    • Also included in the SECURE Act is a provision that Sewell introduced with her colleagues to reverse a tax on Gold Star families that was included in the 2018 Republican tax bill. A surviving spouse cannot receive both Veteran Affairs and Defense Department benefits simultaneously in full. So, Gold Star parents often sign their DoD benefits over to their children. The SECURE Act will reverse this provision in the Republican tax law that lumps Gold Star children into a bracket known as the "kiddie tax" at 37 percent, much higher than their previous tax rate.

JUSTICE AND LAW ENFORCEMENT

  • $13.5 million for the Emmett Till Unsolved Civil Rights Crimes Reauthorization, funding to reopen these cases for investigation and prosecution.
  • $3.28 billion in grants to states and local law enforcement, including $340 million for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Program.

Included in the bill are many additional provisions important to Alabama’s 7th Congressional District, including:

  • $25 million for federal research at the CDC and NIH into our nation’s gun violence epidemic.
  • $7.56 billion to enable the Census Bureau to effectively prepare for and conduct a thorough and accurate 2020 Decennial Census.
  • $410 million for the Housing Opportunities for Persons with HIV/AIDS (HOPWA) program, an increase of $17 million above the 2019 enacted level.

A fact sheet on the funding bills is available here.