House Approves Top Welch Priorities in Government Funding Bill
WASHINGTON – With funding for federal government operations set to expire at midnight Friday, the House of Representatives this afternoon approved two appropriations bills that reject draconian cuts proposed by President Trump and fund the federal government for the remainder of fiscal year 2020, which began on October 1, 2019. Both bills are expected to be approved by the Senate and signed into law before the Friday night deadline.
H.R. 1158, which primarily funds federal domestic programs, includes key Vermont priorities championed in the House by Rep. Peter Welch during the fiscal year 2020 appropriations process, including:
- The reauthorization of Brand USA, a program that boosts international tourist visits to Vermont and other states. Welch unveiled the legislation at a Stowe travel and tourism roundtable in October.
- The CREATES Act, which combats anti-competitive practices by brand-name drug companies that slow federal approval of more affordable generic alternatives. Welch is a co-lead of the legislation in the House.
- An increase of $5 million for the Northern Border Regional Commission, for a total of $25 million.
- An increase of $50 million for the Low Income Heating Assistance Program, for a total of $3.7 billion.
- An increase of $100 million for the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development Grants (formerly TIGER Grants), for a total of $1 billion. Also included is $14.2 million for Vermont highway and transit infrastructure programs and grants.
- An increase of $411 million for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs, for a total of $2.8 billion.
- An increase of $57 million for the Land and Water Conservation Fund for a total of $495 million, the highest funding level since fiscal year 2004.
- An increase of $2.6 billion for the National Institutes of Health for research on disease cures and treatments, for a total of $41.7 billion.
- $640 million to fund broadband deployment.
- $1.5 billion for State Opioid Response Grants.
- A mandate for the Department of Health and Human Services to develop a national strategy to combat tick-borne diseases and authorize grants for state health departments and universities.