WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), announced that funding for the following programs were included in the Fiscal Year 2020 appropriations bills, which were passed by Congress this week and signed into law by the president Friday. They include significant priorities for Eastern Shore communities.
“Federal investment in the Eastern Shore is changing people’s lives for the better, while driving economic development and ensuring that our infrastructure and resources are strengthened for the years ahead,” said Senator Cardin, Ranking Member of the Environment and Public Works Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee. “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, fight the opioid epidemic, expand economic development, and increase opportunity across the Eastern Shore,” 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.”
NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION (NOAA): NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Services’ Habitat Conservation & Restoration program provides critical funding for the Chesapeake Bay’s Oyster Restoration efforts. Senators Cardin and Van Hollen fought to secure an additional $741,000 for this program for a total investment of $57.125 million and Congressional recognition of the importance of the Chesapeake Bay Oyster Restoration program. In previous Fiscal Years, these funds have been utilized in Maryland to support oyster restoration along Mid-Shore waters, including in and around Harris Creek and the Tred Avon and Little Choptank Rivers.
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.
NATURAL RESOURCES CONSERVATION SERVICE (NRCS): Maryland farmers are national leaders in establishing environmental practices that benefit their operations and the health of the Chesapeake Bay. Protecting the Chesapeake Bay and financially stable farms are not mutually exclusive, the NRCS’ Conservation Service program provides producers with additional financial support to help reduce soil erosion, enhance water supplies, improve water quality, increase wildlife habitat, and reduce damages caused by floods and other natural disasters. Senators Cardin and Van Hollen secured an additional $10.136 million for this critical program, bringing up funding to $829.628 million.
OPIOIDS AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE: Congress continues necessary investments in addressing opioid abuse nationally, 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.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ADMINISTRATION (EDA): The Eastern Shore holds two of Maryland’s three EDA Districts, the Mid-Shore Regional Council and Tri-County Council for the Lower Eastern Shore of Maryland, these organizations have long served to bring together Shore community, elected, and business leaders to address pressing regional economic development needs. Congress rejected an attempt by the Trump Administration to eliminate the EDA that funds the regional councils 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.