WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, released the following statement after Senate passage of three bipartisan appropriations bills for Fiscal Year 2024, including (1) Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies; (2) Agriculture and the Food & Drug Administration; and (3) Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies. The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved all 12 appropriations bills with bipartisan votes.
“Senators setting aside partisan differences to fund the workings of the federal government on behalf of the American people – this is how Congress is supposed to work. It’s refreshing and overdue. And it is happening in the Senate today. Bipartisan passage of these first three spending bills is a key step in providing stability and certainty for the current fiscal year. Senators have policy differences, of course, but they kept the process moving, kept talking and negotiating, and ultimately passed the legislation. The House of Representatives can learn an important lesson from what is happening in the Senate and act swiftly to send these bills to the President. Chaos, extreme political agendas and threats of shutdowns only hurt Marylanders and everyone across this great country.
“Not only do these bills provide critical funding for federal agencies to carry out their responsibilities, but they also include Congressionally Directed Spending projects or earmarks for Maryland and elsewhere. These are locally driven priorities and opportunities for Congress to respond directly to needs across the state that might not otherwise receive sufficient attention, or to provide critical funding for a project to get started or achieve completion. Earmarks are only 1% of total federal discretionary spending, but they have an outsized impact on our communities.”
Priority Maryland projects included in this “minibus” package of appropriations bills include:
Building African American Minds (BAAM) Academic Center
Recipient Name: Building African American Minds, Inc
Project Purpose: Funding will support completion of the ongoing construction of a new Academic Center facility to house staff offices and programming, including after school and summer programs, career and workforce development, and physical and mental health workshops.
Project Location: Talbot County
Amount Funded: $525,000
Garrett County Utilities Infrastructure Equipment
Recipient Name: Board of County Commissioners of Garrett County
Project Purpose: The funding will be used to purchase a hydro-excavator truck and associated accessories needed to install and repair critical infrastructure for Garrett County, Maryland.
Project Location: Garrett County
Amount Funded: $525,000
Adkins Arboretum Site Amenities
Recipient Name: Adkins Arboretum
Project Purpose: This project will create and implement a unified overall amenities plan for the Adkins Arboretum. Seating and other site amenities will help make a welcoming venue for the more than 30,000 people visiting arboretum annually.
Project Location: Caroline County
Amount Funded: $260,000
Baltimore Franklin-Mulberry Corridor – Reconnecting Communities
Recipient Name: Baltimore City
Project Purpose: Funding will be used to support the ongoing planning effort for the Franklin-Mulberry Corridor Reconnecting Communities project in West Baltimore.
Project Location: Baltimore City
Amount Funded: $500,000
Patapsco Pedestrian/Bicycle Bridge – Phase 1
Recipient Name: Maryland Department of Transportation
Project Purpose: Funding will be used to construct a bicycle and pedestrian bridge connecting the Patapsco Avenue Light Rail Station and Bus Hub with the north side of Patapsco Avenue.
Project Location: Baltimore City and Baltimore County
Amount Funded: $5,000,000
Historic Druid Hill Y Family Center Renovation
Recipient Name: Young Men’s Christian Association of Central Maryland, Inc.
Project Purpose: This project would fund capital improvements to protect the aging historical infrastructure of the Druid Hill Y, which serves as a haven for people facing social, health, and economic inequity challenges.
Project Location: Baltimore City
Amount Funded: $1,238,000
In addition, the spending package includes:
- $141.7 million for aircraft development and maintenance facilities at Naval Air Station Patuxent River
- $101.8 million for construction at the Bethesda Naval Hospital
- $100 million for the cybersecurity operations facility at Fort Meade
- $480 million for construction at Fort Meade
- $38.3 million for a hydrant fueling system at Joint Base Andrews
- $3.1 billion for veterans homelessness programs, which is $418 million more than fiscal year 2023.
- $1.9 billion for military family housing construction, operations, and maintenance.
- $1.2 billion to support the VA in expanding care to all women veterans.
- $984 million for medical and prosthetics research, which is $68 million more than fiscal year 2023.
- $15 million for the VA Airborne Hazards and Burn Pits Center of Excellence, which advocates for Veterans who have concerns about potential adverse health outcomes related to airborne hazard exposures. This is equal to the fiscal year 2023 enacted level.
- $164 million for grants for construction of state extended care facilities, which supports the construction of state-run assisted living and skilled nursing facilities, such as the Charlotte Hall Veterans Home and the planned second Veterans home in Sykesville.
- $800.89 million for Conservation Technical Assistance, in which Natural Resources Conservation Service staff work one-on-one with farmers to conserve resources and prevent run-off. The bill also includes language expressing the Committee’s view that additional technical assistance should be provided to Critical Conservation Areas like the Chesapeake Bay Watershed because a lack of planning capacity can slow down projects in our region.
- $56.411 million for the FDA’s White Oak, Maryland campus to continue to consolidate the campus and improve FDA’s efficiency and productivity.
- $20 million for the Farmers Market Nutrition Program, which helps low-income mothers and children purchase fruits and vegetables from local farmers.
- Chesapeake Bay States Partnership Initiative (C-SPI) report language that recognizes the important role of voluntary conservation practices in restoring waterways especially when deployed at scale. The language supports USDA’s continuation of the C-SPI and encourages the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to target additional technical assistance to the most effective basin areas of the watershed to reduce agricultural runoff in the Chesapeake Bay.
- Report language that directs FDA to coordinate with the Department of Health and Human Services to combat drug shortages, promote domestic manufacturing and ensure an adequate supply of essential medicines.
- Funding for programs at historically Black 1890 Land-Grant institutions like the University of Maryland Eastern Shore:
- Research: $89 million
- Extension Services: $72 million
- Education Grants: 30 million
- Facility Improvements: $21.5 million
- Scholarships: $10 million
- $20 billion for the Federal Aviation Administration will help maintain the safety and efficiency of our national aviation system. Funding will facilitate the hiring of 1,800 new air traffic controllers and the modernization of critical IT and telecommunication systems.
- $16.9 billion for the Federal Transit Administration to continue investing in transit infrastructure. Funding includes $2.45 billion for the Capital Investment Grants program.
- $1.2 billion for the Maritime Administration, including $48 million for the Defense vessel programs, $213 million for the Port Infrastructure Development Program, $195.5 million for the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy to train the next generation of mariners.
- $3.4 billion for the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), including $2.45 billion for Amtrak.
- Nearly $6 billion for programs to expand the supply of affordable housing including the Home Investment Partnership Program, Community Development Block Grant formula program, and Economic Development Initiatives that address a variety of local community development and affordable housing needs.
- $3.9 billion for Homeless Assistance Grants