WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), a member of the Senate Committees on Finance, Foreign Relations, Environment and Public Works, and Small Business & Entrepreneurship, released the following statement in response to the release of President Barack Obama’s budget plan for Fiscal Year 2017.
“A budget should reflect the priorities of a nation concerned with the well-being of all citizens. President Barack Obama’s final budget builds upon strategic federal investments that have helped create 14 million new jobs and brought unemployment to less than 5 percent for the first time in his presidency. I look forward to carefully reviewing the full details of this budget and I plan to participate in hearings with cabinet officials in each of the committees on which I serve.
“At first read, I am encouraged by President Obama’s budget priorities to strengthen health care and education, invest in transportation infrastructure and climate change resiliency, bolster research and support children, families and our veterans. I am particularly excited to see more details on his proposals for law enforcement reform which would expand training and oversight for local law enforcement, as well as programs to stem the opioid addiction that is ravaging communities in Maryland and nationwide. Our economy will continue to grow healthier, spreading opportunity to all corners, when we make smart investments in our people and provide the resources and environment that allows innovation and hard work to thrive. I am especially pleased at the strong request for a fully consolidated Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) headquarters that I am confident will be built in Prince George’s County, Md. Along with boosts to cybersecurity funding, and efforts to combat ISIL abroad and violent extremism and radicalization at home, Maryland has an active role in enhancing our national security today and well into the future.
“The President’s overall international affairs budget request at $50 billion provides funding for critical priorities including destroying ISIL, responding to Russian aggression, strengthening the US commitment to global health, leading international efforts on climate change, maintaining the rebalance to the Asia-Pacific, embassy security, and expanding support for democracy and governance. These efforts are welcome, although I am concerned about the low ‘base’ for the State Department in the budget I look forward to the opportunity to explore our foreign policy budget priorities with Secretary Kerry when he is before the Foreign Relations Committee later this month.
“Unlike some of my colleagues across the aisle, I trust that President Obama had the very best intentions for the American public in mind as he put together his budget. There are some areas, however, where I wholly disagree with his budget recommendations and will work through all available avenues to ensure that some specific cuts or reductions in budget levels are restored. For example, while I support President Obama’s overall dedication to infrastructure investments, his budget leaves the Clean Water State Revolving Fund and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund woefully underfunded and unbalanced. Water infrastructure is every bit as important to a successful and healthy community as good roads, bridges and transit. Robust funding for both of these water funds, like in the days of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, is the best way to eliminate problems in Flint, Mich., and elsewhere around the country where children and communities are being poisoned by lead and other pollutants in their water. It is irresponsible to steal from one fund to give to the other. As one of the leading proponents in the Senate for clean, safe water infrastructure, I will do all within my power to ensure both State Revolving Funds, the principal funding source for states to improve and maintain their drinking water and sewer systems, receive the funding they deserve.
“Unfortunately, major water infrastructure takes a second hit in the president’s budget with a proposed 22 percent cut to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operations and construction budgets. Every year the Army Corps clears tons of eroded sediment from the federal navigation channels that lead into and out of the Port of Baltimore. Keeping this vital port open and the channels dredged is essential not just for Maryland, but for the nation. The Corps then uses some of the dredge to restore natural features like the Mid-Bay Islands and Poplar Island, restoring critical wildlife habitat and protecting coastal communities. In addition, the Army Corps is active in restoring the habitat for the oysters that are essential to balancing to the Bay’s ecosystem and Maryland’s economy. The Army Corps tackles critical, symbiotic programs like this nationwide – projects that are beyond the solo capabilities of most state or local governments. As a senior member of the Environment and Public Works Committee, I will fight to ensure these cuts do not become a reality.”