WASHINGTON –U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), ranking member of the Senate Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee and a member of the Senate Finance Committee, issued the following statement on the omnibus spending packages for Fiscal Year 2020.
“There is no such thing as a good government shutdown, so it is a great relief for Maryland, federal workers and the entire nation that Congress has now passed full-year spending bills for Fiscal Year 2020. I supported these bills today not because I agreed with every measure – I did not. Overall, however, the good provisions outweighed the bad, as well as the damage that would have been caused by another government shutdown.”
In exercising our constitutionally directed spending power, Congress has set its priorities, including:
- Keeping our children safe by raising the purchase age to 21 for tobacco and e-cigarette products
- Providing more resources to local jurisdictions for the battle to stem opioid epidemic
- Funding CDC research into gun safety for the first time in more than 20 years
- Investing in minority health and eliminating health disparities
- Increasing the maximum award for Pell Grants
- Expanding Community Development Block Grants
- Securing our election systems
- Funding the decennial census
- Supporting federal employees with a 3.1 percent pay increase and 12 weeks paid parental leave
- Supporting federal facilities in the National Capital Region and nationwide
“While spending levels for the EPA Chesapeake Bay Program hit a record high $85 million, and other infrastructure, conservation and environmental programs received reasonable funding, there was so much more that we could have accomplished, particularly on energy efficiency and clean energy. The tax provisions were unbalanced and disappointing,” Senator Cardin added. “This was a wasted opportunity. We should have made permanent the highly successful Section 179D energy-efficient commercial building deduction. We also should have expanded offshore wind tax incentives, solar, waste-heat-to-power, and energy storage tax incentives – all of which would help our economy and our environment. Unfortunately, only one credit was given longer-term stability, and others were given only short-term extensions, left to expire, or not included at all.
“We start 2020 in the same place as we did 2019 – with expired or nearly expired tax provisions that could be working for our economy. Our tax code is one of the best tools we have to spur long-term investments in the growing clean energy sector. Congress needs to do better in maximizing our support and providing long-term stability for this booming, domestic industry.”