WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), both members of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee (EPW), issued the following statement on the two spending bills passed by Congress for Fiscal Year 2020 that will provide significant federal assistance for Western Maryland.
Infrastructure/Training & Development
“Federal investment in rural Maryland has been making a tremendous difference in people’s lives and the economic foundations for the region,” said Senator Cardin, Ranking Member of the EPW Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee. “The Appalachian Regional Commission, USDA Rural Development and Economic Development Administration have combined to take bring infrastructure, training and essential resources the final mile to our communities. Team Maryland has fought back against proposed, drastic cuts by President Trump and we will do all we can to keep these programs as robust partners with Maryland communities.”
“Providing our communities with the resources they need is one of our top priorities. Recent federal investments have helped improve infrastructure, expand economic development, and increase opportunity throughout Western Maryland,” said Senator Van Hollen, a member of the Environment and Public Works and Appropriations Committees. “While I had some reservations with the overall appropriations package, I fully support all of the provisions we fought to include on behalf of our state and our communities. Together, we will continue working to fund important projects throughout Maryland.”
APPALACHIAN REGIONAL COMMISSION (ARC): For decades, ARC has supported growth and development of the Western Maryland region through a wide range of investments across education and workforce readiness, critical infrastructure, natural and cultural assets, expanding leadership and community capacity, and economic opportunities. Senators Cardin and Van Hollen secured an additional $10 million in funding, raising the overall funding level to $175 million.”
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE (USDA) RURAL DEVELOPMENT: USDA Rural Development programs ensure that rural communities have the resources they need for critical infrastructure projects, including clean water, sanitary waste disposal, and broadband internet. Congress included a $43 million increase to provide $443 million for the Water and Waste Disposal Grants program that provides funding for clean water and sanitary waste disposal projects in small communities. In addition, Congress continues to invest in the Re-Connect Program to increase access to broadband connectivity in unserved and underserved rural communities, providing an additional $5 million for a total investment of $555 million.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ADMINISTRATION (EDA): The Tri-County Council of Western Maryland is one of Maryland’s three EDA Districts. It has long served to bring together the Western Maryland community and address pressing regional economic development needs. In the FY2020 appropriations, Congress rejected an attempt by the Trump administration to eliminate the agency and instead provided a $29 million increase in funding for a total investment of $333 million. The EDA funds several grant and technical assistance programs to support sustainable job growth, innovation, and regional collaboration in economically distressed communities.
APPALACHIAN DEVELOPMENT HIGHWAY SYSTEM: The senators secured $1.77 million for Maryland toward the regional Appalachian Development Highway System (ADHS), no funds were available for this purpose the previous fiscal year. Supporting other Western Maryland transportation priorities, the senators announced that $1.15 billion will be available nationally in competitive funding for bridge repair and replacement, a $675 million increase above previous funding levels, and a $50 million set aside to improve highway-railway crossings.
“Rural Maryland has not been immune to the opioid epidemic. Every community in our state has been hurt in some way,” said Cardin and Van Hollen. “We continue to find every available resource to boost prevention programs and increase access to high-quality integrated mental health services and substance use disorder treatment.”
OPIOIDS & SUBSTANCE ABUSE: Congress continued necessary investments in addressing opioid abuse, providing a $100 million increase to $3.8 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to meet local community needs, including: $1.5 billion to states to address the opioid epidemic and mental health; $476 million for opioid overdose surveillance and prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); and $90 million to address the needs of children affected by the opioid crisis. This represents a $2.8 billion increase in funding for this significant need since FY2017.
National Security Priorities
NATIONAL BIODEFENSE LAB: Senators Cardin and Van Hollen have been at the forefront of ensuring ongoing funding and support for DHS/FBI’s National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center (NBACC) that supports federal law enforcement investigations and identifies biological threats. They were able to ensure that the appropriations package provides at least $67.916 million for the Fort Detrick, Maryland-based NBACC.
“We have been united as a delegation in our efforts to preserve the unique capabilities of the National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center at Fort Detrick. These scientists are on the front lines of protecting our nation from the biological threats and neutralizing the effects of the types of attacks we hope will never succeed,” said the senators. “Fort Detrick continues to work on the cutting edge of the specialized, biological research that will make the world safer and healthier for years to come.”
MEDICAL RESEARCH: Fort Detrick also manages a number of Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs, which received the following funding for FY2020.
- $360 million increase for the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program to support research for Pathogen-Inactivated blood products, and polycystic kidney disease.
- $12 million in medical research funding for reconstructive limb transplants.
- $110 million for the Peer Review Cancer Research Program for Esophageal cancer.
- $110 million in funding for Breast Cancer Research.
- $6 million for Tuberous Sclerosis Complex medical research.
- $110 million for Prostate Cancer medical Research.