December 20, 2007

CARDIN, MIKULSKI ANNOUNCE OMNIBUS BILL FUNDS CRITICAL MARYLAND PRIORITIES DESPITE BUSH-MANDATED CUTS

Legislation addresses projects including BRAC, transportation, homeland security, public safety, health care, education, vets, military and infrastructure

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senators Benjamin L. Cardin and Barbara A. Mikulski (both D-Md.) today announced they have secured critical funding for domestic priorities for Maryland and the nation in the fiscal year 2008 omnibus package that has been passed by Congress.   The bill now heads to the President for his signature.

 

"President Bush refuses to cooperate with Congress by threatening to veto the bills that fund America's priorities here at home, while continuing to ask for more money for the war in Iraq.  The omnibus spending package tells President Bush we will not shoulder the cost of his war by sacrificing our safety, security and everyday needs on the home front," said Senator Mikulski.  "I told Marylanders I would fight for their day-to-day needs.  My promises made are promises kept, despite the President's refusal to come to the table to discuss how we can help Americans with their priorities at home: education, health care and keeping their communities safe." 

 

"Nearly a year ago when I first came to the Senate, my pledge was to work as a partner with Senator Mikulski to push forward key domestic, economic and national security priorities important to all Marylanders.  Clearly, the omnibus bill passed by the Senate does a better job than the President's original budget in providing federal funds for many of America's priorities, especially support for our veterans, homeland security, education, healthcare and research, the environment and key infrastructure," said Senator Cardin.  "I recognize that there is much more left to accomplish and I will continue fighting to right this country's course."

 

The fiscal year 2008 omnibus package combines 11 spending bills that fund domestic priorities and have not yet become law because President Bush's vetoes and veto threats have delayed their passage.   With fiscal year 2008 already underway, the omnibus funds government agencies, cabinet departments, and critical domestic American priorities.

 

Senator Mikulski is a senior member of the Appropriations Committee, and Chairwoman of the Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations Subcommittee.   Senator Cardin is a member of the Budget Committee.

 

Funding for Maryland projects is detailed below, and is grouped according to the following topics: BRAC, transportation, military construction, veterans, housing and community development, health facilities, education, foreign operations, Chesapeake Bay, parks and sewers, energy and water, agriculture, homeland security, conservation, justice and space.

BRAC

 

The bill addresses military construction, transportation and implementation projects related to the execution of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission's recommendations.   The Commission's recommendations were great news for Maryland and will bring thousands of new employees to the state.   This includes 10,000 new jobs that will never leave the country, in addition to 85,000 existing jobs on bases and up to 40,000 non-direct jobs.

 

BRAC military construction projects: In response to the President's veto threat, Congress cut $1 billion from the BRAC Military Construction account.  The executive branch will now re-evaluate BRAC funding for individual initiatives across the nation with the almost $7.3 billion allotted.  Team Maryland will continue to fight to ensure that Maryland's BRAC military construction projects are fully funded.  Senator Mikulski and her fellow appropriators will push to restore funding when Congress considers the next emergency supplemental proposal early next year.

 

BRAC transportation projects: The spending bill includes more than $15.36 million for BRAC-related transportation projects, including:

 

·         $9.8 million for the MARC Commuter Rail System.   The funding will be used for new locomotives and railcars, to study new station locations and to improve existing stations.

·         $2.2 million to improve access to Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG) in Harford County.

·         $1.97 million to improve access to the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda by making adjustments to the already congested Route 355.

·         $657,000 for the Central Maryland Transit Operations Facility at Fort Meade in Anne Arundel County to house and maintain Maryland Transit Administration buses that will serve Anne Arundel, Howard and northern Prince George's Counties.

·         $490,000 for improvements to intersections on Route 175 leading to Fort Meade.

·         $245,000 for U.S. 15 at Monocacy Boulevard to improve access to Fort Detrick in Frederick County .

 

BRAC implementation efforts: In meetings with Maryland's local leaders to discuss the impact of BRAC, both Senators pledged to fight for increases to Impact Aid and Individuals with Disabilities Education (IDEA) Act programs, which could dramatically ease pressure on local and state government budgets and allow more funds to support BRAC-implementation efforts.   For more information on the IDEA and Impact Aid programs, go to: http://mikulski.senate.gov/record.cfm?id=287194 .   This bill includes:

 

·         $11 billion in increased funding for IDEA, a $500 million increase over the President's request, which entitles children with disabilities to a public education and provides federal funds to help schools with the cost.  

·         $1.24 billion for the federal Impact Aid program, a $12 million increase over the President's request.   The program provides federal funding to school districts that have increased enrollment due to federally connected children. 

 

TRANSPORTATION

 

The bill includes $42.6 million for key state transportation projects not related to BRAC:

 

·         $34.3 million for the purchase of additional railcars for the Washington Metro system.

·         $2.45 million to upgrade a very congested section of Route 4 at Suitland Parkway to a multi-lane freeway in Prince George's County.

·         $1.27 million to construct Southern Maryland Commuter Bus Park and Ride lots.

·         $980,000 to upgrade and widen Route 237 from Pegg Road to Route 235 to a multi-lane highway near Patuxent Naval Air Station (Pax River) in St. Mary's County.

·         $ 980,000 to plan and design improvements to U.S. Route 301 in Charles and Prince George's County.

·         $818,000 for the Bi-County Transit Center in Langley Park to serve as an off-street bus transfer facility for residents of Prince George's and Montgomery Counties.

·         $735,000 to widen Interstate 695 NE to eight lanes in Baltimore County.

·         $735,000 for Maryland Statewide Bus and Bus Facility Program.

·         $328,300 for acquisition of an abandoned railroad bridge for inclusion in the Gwynns Falls Trail.

 

The bill also provides an additional $1 billion for the Federal Highway Administration's Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation Program following this year's terrible tragedy in Minnesota.  This program provides grants to states for bridge replacement, rehabilitation, preventative maintenance and inspections.  The funding will provide an additional $23 million for Maryland, which received $58.4 million this year based on a formula authorized in the 2005 transportation authorization bill (SAFETEA).

 

MILITARY CONSTRUCTION

 

The bill provides $274.8 million for construction projects not related to BRAC at Maryland's military facilities .  The legislation contains provisions for military installations nationwide, with federal funding totaling $21.47 billion to support new construction costs.   This includes:

 

·         $150 million for the U .S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick.

·         $52.06 million for the National Maritime Intelligence Center in Suitland.

·         $17.99 million for an Aircraft Prototype Facility at Pax River.

·         $13.65 million for E-2 Advanced Hawkeye Research, Development, Test and Evaluation facility at Pax River.

·         $12.2 million for APG to build an Automotive Technology Evaluation Facility (ATEF).   This funding was not included in President Bush's budget.   The ATEF will provide the Department of Defense (DoD) with the capability to support sustained high-speed testing for both wheeled and tracked vehicles, as well as complement and enhance automotive test infrastructure already in place at the Aberdeen Test Center.   For more information on ATEF, go to: http://mikulski.senate.gov/record.cfm?id=281900 .

·         $9.45 million for an Advanced Energetics Research Lab Complex at the Naval Surface Warfare Center at Indian Head in Charles County.

·         $7.9 million for a new Power, Space and Cooling Utilities Building at the National Security Agency (NSA) at Fort Meade.

      $6.72 million for an addition to the Joint Precision Approach and Landing System building at Pax River.  

·         $4 million for an exterior stair tower at the NSA Operations Building at Fort Meade to address building safety codes.

·         $829,000 to plan and design an Army National Guard Readiness Center in Dundalk.

 

VETERANS:

 

The bill includes $87.6 billion for critical veterans programs , a significant $3.7 billion more than the President requested and the largest increase for veterans' health care in the 77 years of the Department of Veterans Affairs' (VA) existence.   This increase is designated as emergency funding, which gives the President discretion over whether or not to spend it.  The spending bill rejects President Bush's attempt to double veterans' co-pays and charge enrollment fees, and includes:  

 

·         $37.2 billion for veterans' health care, including increases for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) treatment.

·         $480 million for medical and prosthetics research.

·         $195 million for the National Cemetery Association.

·         $1.6 million to reduce the 400,000 benefit claims backlog at the Veterans Benefits Administration by hiring 1,800 new claims processors.

·         $300,000 to support an Advanced Low Vision Clinic at the Baltimore VA Medical Center .  This clinic will help rehabilitate wounded Iraq and Afghanistan veterans with eyesight injuries as well as older veterans whose eyesight has deteriorated.

 

HOUSING & COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT

 

The bill invests more than $3.29 million in Maryland community development priority projects and $102 million for housing programs.   It also protects Baltimore City from being stripped of its status as a "Moving to Work" demonstration program participant, shielding the city and public housing residents from severe implications - for more information, go to: http://mikulski.senate.gov/record.cfm?id=282374.   Initiatives include:

 

·         $478,492 to Baltimore City for workforce development to support the Park Heights Partnership for Jobs.

·         $459,620 for the City of College Park for blight removal along U.S. Route 1 Corridor.

·         $400,000 to establish a Small Business Administration International Trade office in Prince George's County focused on Africa to serve small and minority business enterprises.

·         $393,960 for the Colmar Manor Community Center in Prince George's County, to build a multi-use facility combining community organizations and municipal services.

·         $328,300 for the Irvine Urban Outreach Center in Baltimore County.

·         $262,640 for Montgomery County to provide for pedestrian safety in the Long Branch community in Silver Spring through pedestrian safety linkages and way-finding community markers.     

·         $196,980 for the Patterson Park Community Development Corporation's Library Square Revitalization Project in Baltimore to continue the revitalization of an under-used area in the Library Square commercial district.

·         $196,000 for the Washington County Free Library to facilitate the design and construction of a new library branch in Boonsboro.   This small community has raised nearly $1 million to build this new facility.

·         $196,000 for the East Baltimore Development Project to continue providing for workforce development, clean and safe programs, and infrastructure improvements.   The organization is leading the nation's most ambitious community revitalization effort, transforming 80 acres of blighted land around Johns Hopkins Hospital into a mixed-use, mixed-income community.  

·         $196,000 for the Jewish Foundation for Group Homes in Rockville to acquire and renovate a single-family home into an Alternative Living Unit for adults with developmental disabilities.

·         $196,000 for the Grassroots Crisis Intervention Center in Columbia to provide the last stage of construction funding for the only emergency services shelter in Howard County.

 

The bill also includes $102 million in funding for the following housing programs:

 

·         $100 million to restore funding for the HOPE VI housing program, despite the President's elimination in his budget request for the second year.  For more information on HOPE VI, which Senator Mikulski created in 1992, go to: http://mikulski.senate.gov/record.cfm?id=282374.  

·         $2 million to continue supporting Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Big Buy program, which allows owners of Section 8 (low-income) housing to apply for free lead-based paint inspections.   This is a particular issue in Baltimore, where residents are at higher risk because of older housing stock.

 

HEALTH CARE FACILITIES

 

The bill provides nearly $5.1 million for Maryland health facilities, as well as priority nurse training facilities, women's health initiatives and seniors programs.   This includes critical increases for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Institute on Aging and the National Cancer Institute.

 

The following Maryland health facilities received nearly $2.14 million in much-needed funds:

 

  • $407,000 for Lifebridge Health in Baltimore to implement the Computerized Physician Order Entry Initiative.   This digital-based system will dramatically improve patient care services with its principal focus of reducing medical errors.
  • $359,000 for Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring to upgrade its neuroscience capabilities with the purchase of bi-plane angiography equipment to significantly improve precision and reduce treatment time.
  • $335,000 for the Carroll County Youth Services Bureau (CCYSB) to establish a mental health service program for youth.   CCYSB uses a multi-disciplinary approach to deliver prevention, intervention and treatment services to underserved residents.     
  • $307,000 for the Baltimore Medical System for facilities and equipment for a community health care center .
  • $239,000 for the Kennedy-Krieger Institute in Baltimore to purchase an MRI machine to improve patient diagnosis and care.
  • $239,000 for Johns Hopkins University's Critical Event Preparedness and Response (CEPAR) program in Baltimore to develop and organize a regional medical response for potential bioterror or natural disasters that could be replicated at other academic medical centers across the country.  
  • $134,000 for a media campaign to inform low-income women of available health insurance for prenatal care in Prince George's County.
  • $119,000 for Northwest Hospital's Intermediate Care Unit in Randallstown for facilities and equipment.

Nursing: The bill provides $156 million for nursing programs, a $6 million increase despite the President = s budget request of only $105.3 million.   Senators Mikulski and Cardin also fought for an additional $1.14 million for Maryland medical institutions dedicated to addressing the nationwide nursing and nurse faculty shortage:

 

  • $718,000 for the University of Maryland at Baltimore's Nursing Institute to establish an institute for educators to prepare nurses and health professionals for teaching roles.  
  • $430,000 for the Maryland Hospital Association's Nursing Lattice Program to establish a program that will work with health care employers and community colleges to prepare certified nursing assistants to become Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN) and LPNs to become Registered Nurses (RN).   The program will also train less skilled workers for health care careers.

Women's Health: The bill includes $5 million for the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) Office of Women's Health, representing a 25 percent increase.  Since 1994, Senator Mikulski has championed increased funding for the Office of Women's Health, which has received approximately $4 million a year since 2002.   Senators Mikulski and Cardin also secured federal funding to help Baltimore-area medical facilities purchase necessary mammography equipment for the early detection and reduction of breast cancer: St. Agnes Hospital ($718,000), Mercy Hospital ($718,000) and Northwest Hospital ($359,000).

 

Seniors: The Older Americans Act (OAA), which was reauthorized by Congress and signed into law last year, is essential for the delivery of social and nutritional services for America's seniors, including the information and referral services, senior nutrition programs and elder abuse programs that are the backbone of OAA programs.   The bill provides a total of $1.4 billion, $78 million above the President's budget request.

 

EDUCATION

 

The omnibus package increases funding for education programs across the nation, including $16 billion in student financial aid, despite dramatic cuts in President Bush's budget request.  With college tuition on the rise nationwide, Senators Mikulski and Cardin fought for