What the Iowans fought for, bragged about in massive year-end spending bills

The U.S. House and Senate managed to wrap up their work for the year without shutting down the government, an improvement on the state of affairs when the fully Republican-controlled Congress left for the winter holiday break in 2018.

The two huge bills contained about $1.4 trillion in spending, which will keep the federal government open through the end of the current fiscal year on September 30, 2020. President Donald Trump signed the legislation.

WHAT’S IN THE BILLS

The Associated Press reported on some of the important compromises.

The legislation delivers Trump a victory on his U.S.-Mexico border fence and gives Democrats long-sought domestic spending increases and a repeal of Obama-era taxes on high-cost health insurance plans. It blends spending increases for both sides — reelection fodder for lawmakers — with tax and benefit add-ons that will mean a roughly $400 billion boost to the deficit over 10 years. […]

The core of the spending bill is formed by the 12 annual agency appropriations bills passed by Congress each year. It fills in the details of a bipartisan framework from July that delivered about $100 billion in agency spending increases over the coming two years instead of automatic spending cuts.

The bill exceeds Trump’s budget requests in virtually every domestic category, except for Trump’s request for $8 billion-plus for the U.S.-Mexico wall. It was cut back to $1.4 billion, equal to last year’s appropriation. The measure preserves Trump’s ability to use his budget powers to tap other accounts for several times that amount. That’s a blow for liberal opponents of the wall but an acceptable trade-off for Democrats who wanted to gain $27 billion in increases for domestic programs.

Other notable provisions:

 

HOW THE IOWANS VOTED

The domestic spending package passed by 297 votes to 120 in the House and by 71 votes to 23 in the Senate. The military and security bills passed by 280 votes to 138 in the House and by 81 votes to 11 in the Senate. The roll calls show many House Democrats supported the domestic spending but opposed the defense package because of the wall funding, while many Republicans voted the opposite way.

However, no one in Iowa’s delegation split their votes on the appropriations deal. Republican Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst voted for both bills, as did Democratic Representatives Abby Finkenauer (IA-01), Dave Loebsack (IA-02), and Cindy Axne (IA-03). Republican Steve King (IA-04) opposed both measures.

Side note: It’s difficult to follow Congressional happenings just by looking at the roll call votes in the House and Senate, because the bill titles often have nothing to do with the content. Shortly before the final votes, H.R. 1865 was amended to include fiscal year 2020 appropriations from eight other bills, covering most domestic spending, and H.R. 1158 was amended to include the contents of four appropriations bills, including Defense and Homeland Security funds.

The Congressional Research Service website explained the context, fortunately. Otherwise you’d never guess that the vote on the “National Law Enforcement Museum Commemorative Coin Act” contained the domestic spending package, and the “DHS Cyber Hunt and Incident Response Teams Act” contained the defense appropriations for the remainder of the 2020 fiscal year.

Among the Democratic presidential candidates who serve in the Senate, Michael Bennet voted for both bills, while Cory Booker, Amy Klobuchar, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren did not vote while campaigning elsewhere.

WHAT THE IOWANS SAID ABOUT THE BUDGET DEAL

As is typical for members of Congress, the Iowans issued statements highlighting provisions they had co-sponsored or fought to include in the spending package. Even King, who defended his vote against both appropriations bills, released a long list of items he was proud to have supported.

All of the Iowa representatives and senators mentioned the retroactive extension of the biodiesel tax credit, and most touted funding to expand broadband access in rural communities. I enclose below all of those official comments in full.

Notably, Ernst released a statement about the defense bill but did not highlight her vote for the domestic spending agreement, which many conservative commentators criticized.


Statement from Representative Abby Finkenauer, December 17:

Finkenauer Secures Child Care and Rural Broadband Investments for Iowa’s First Congressional District in Appropriations Package

Package funds the government for Fiscal Year 2020 along with five-year biodiesel tax credit extension

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer (IA-01) ) voted to provide new investments in high-quality child care, rural broadband, registeredskilled apprenticeship programs, as well as a historic five-year extension of the biodiesel tax credit. These Iowa priorities were secured as part of a legislative package to fund the government through Fiscal Year 2020. The package included both appropriations and tax provisions and passed with bipartisan support.

“From day one, I have worked across the aisle to get this done for our district and state. From passing legislation through committee, to holding hearings with biodiesel producers testifying, it has been a bipartisan effort to get here,” Finkenauer said. “I came to Congress to make sure Iowa’s voices and working families were heard. From constituents visiting the office to roundtables and town halls in the district, this package covers the priorities we heard and its effects and funding will be felt in homes across Iowa. Provisions included will help doctors serving patients in rural communities, invest in our crumbling infrastructure, expand access to high-quality child care, fund rural broadband projects, and provide certainty for our biofuel and soybean producers who work hard every day for a strong Iowa economy. Without a doubt, the package we passed today is a big win for Iowa.”

The House passed two separate appropriations packages today, both with significant bipartisan support. The packages fund federal departments and agencies, along with the nation’s military. In addition, they include a package of tax provisions that are being extended and expired last year, like biodiesel and second-generation biofuels.

Finkenauer Priorities Included in the Appropriations Package 

  • Early childhood programs get an increase of $1.1 billion, helping ensure that northeast Iowans can access child care and early education no matter where they live
  • Provides $175 million for registered skilled apprenticeship programs, a $15 million increase over last fiscal year
  • Repeals the Cadillac Tax which would have made it harder for employers to offer high-quality health care plans.
  • Invests $640 million in the expansion of broadband in rural areas.
  • Includes increased funding for rural bridge repairs and replacements.
  • Keeps tax relief in place for our small brewers and distillers.
  • Extends important health care programs that help improve access to healthcare in Northeast Iowa, including the Work Geographic Index Floor which ensures fair reimbursements for physicians in rural areas and has been a legislative priority for Rep. Finkenauer as well as the Conrad 30 Program to address health care workforce shortages.
  • Includes the increased federal funding—that Rep. Finkenauer fought for—to help entrepreneurs grow and start their businesses, including Small Business Development Centers, Women’s Business Centers, and the State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) program.
  • Provides $41.7 billion for NIH, an increase of $2.6 billion above the previous year, to develop life-saving treatments and make sure that the United States continues to lead the way when it comes to medical innovation.
  • Increases investments in K-12 education.
  • Restores the Short Line (45G) railroad tax credit.

Finkenauer’s Work on Extending Biodiesel Tax Credit

The biodiesel tax credit has been expired since 2018 and is important to farmers and biofuels producers around the country. Finkenauer helped lead a bipartisan effort in the House to bring attention to the credit through new legislation, pass it through the House Ways and Means Committee and include it in this final package.

Monday, Finkenauer also offered an amendment to H.R. 5377 This is part of her efforts to make sure the biodiesel tax credit is extended before the end of the year.

Congress had previously extended the tax credit retroactively for 2017, but left it expired for 2018 and beyond. This year, Finkenauer was joined by Senators Grassley and Ernst, as well as industry leaders, at a press conference supporting the legislation. Finkenauer testified before the Ways and Means Committee earlier this year, sharing the stories of Iowa producers and businesses that would benefit from the legislation.

 

Statement from Representative Dave Loebsack, December 17:

Washington, D.C. – Congressman Dave Loebsack released the following statement today after the House passed legislation to fully fund the government for fiscal year 2020 and ensure the government remains open. The bill contains many important provisions that Loebsack fought to get into the bill, including a retroactive extension of the biodiesel tax credit, a robust infrastructure package, an expansion of broadband access in rural areas, and robust investments in our veterans and healthcare systems. Additionally, Loebsack successfully fought to increase the funding set aside for distributed wind technologies, increasing the amount available from $5 million to $10 million. The bill now heads to the Senate for its consideration.

“I am pleased an agreement to fully fund the government was finally agreed to, avoiding another needless shutdown. The legislation that passed today represents a bipartisan compromise that while not what I would have written, does contain many provisions that are important to the people of Iowa. I am especially pleased that a last minute agreement was reached to extend the biodiesel tax credit that is vital to the thousands of people working in the industry and benefits our environment and fuel supply. These job-creating, life-saving investments will help grow our economy and ensure the government won’t shutdown,” said Loebsack.

 

Highlights of funding in the legislation include:

TRANSPORTATION AND HOUSING

  • $1 billion for National Infrastructure Investments (TIGER/BUILD). The bill also ensures parity between urban and rural grant awards.
  • $3.4 billion for Community Development Block Grants.
  • $1.35 billion for HOME Investment Partnership Program.
  • $2.8 billion for Homeless Assistance Grants.
  • $2.2 billion for highway infrastructure projects.

 

EDUCATION

  • $1.2 billion for Student Support and Academic Enrichment grants, which go toward school counseling and mental health services, technology investments and STEM education.
  • A $150 boost to the maximum Pell Grant award, which would be set at $6,345.
  • Increases for Head Start, TRIO, IDEA, 21st Century Community Learning Centers, and Title I-A grants, which go to schools with high percentages of low-income children.
  • $120 million for NASA STEM engagement programs for young and future scientist and engineers.
  • $8.28 billion for the National Science Foundation

 

LAW ENFORCEMENT

  • $3.28 billion overall for total State and Local Law Enforcement Activities; including $547.2 million for the Byrne-JAG program and $180 million to address sexual assault kit and DNA evidence backlogs.
  • $440 million for the Legal Services Corporation which helps provide legal assistance to underserved communities.

 

HOMELAND

  • $17.8 billion for FEMA disaster response and recovery efforts.

 

AGRICULTURE

  • $3.8 billion for rural development programs, including $1.45 billion for rural water and waste program loans and more than $545 million in water and waste grants
  • $640 million for the expansion of broadband service
  • $6.9 billion for rural electric and telephone infrastructure loans

ENERGY AND WATER

  • $2.79 billion for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), including $10 million for distributed wind technologies.
  • $7.65 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers

 

VETERANS AFFAIRS

  • $9.4 billion for VA mental health services and programs, a $1 billion increase over last year.
  • $125 million above the budget request for hiring additional claims and appellate staff to continue reducing the disability claims backlog.  This includes funding to hire additional staff to process incoming Blue Water Navy Claims as a result of the Blue Water Navy Vietnam Veterans Act of 2019.

 

HEALTH CARE

  • $41.7 billion for National Institutes of Health including $2.8 billion for Alzheimer’s Research and $3.1 billion for HIV/AIDS research.
  • $19 million for the national Suicide Lifeline operations and $16 million for the Zero Suicide program.
  • $286 million for Title X Family Planning program.
  • Additional $492.5 million for cancer research at the DOD.
  • $1.5 billion in funding for state opioid epidemic response efforts.
  • Raises tobacco age to 21

 

FINANCIAL SERVICES

  • $261 million for Entrepreneurial Development Programs at the Small Business Administration, including $135 million for Small Business Development Centers and $22.5 million for Women’s Business Centers.

 

LEG BRANCH

  • Prevents an increase in pay for Members of Congress

 

SERVICE

  • $1.1 billion for the Corporation for National and Community Service, including $221 million for Senior Corps.

 

Statements from Representative Cindy Axne, December 17:

 

Axne Votes to Fund our Military, Increase Grants for Local Police, Invest in Cancer Research, and Protect our Elections

Bipartisan legislation to support national security and fund remainder of Fiscal Year 2020 passes House

Washington D.C. — Today, Rep. Cindy Axne (IA-03) joined Democratic and Republican colleagues in the House in voting to pass a four-bill package of appropriations bills and provide funding certainty to support our national security for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2020.

 

The bill passed by the House today, H.R. 1158, provides funding for the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department of Commerce, and other key executive branch agencies tasked with protecting our nation and its citizens.

 

“I’m proud to have the backs of those Americans who work every single day to keep our country safe by voting today to keep their agencies open and increase investments in programs that are essential to the national defense,” said Rep. Axne. “This legislation will protect our elections, support our local law enforcement, and invest in our national security.”

 

A number of provisions in the final bill reflect priorities for Iowa and issues which Rep. Axne wrote to members of the House Appropriations Committee to advocate for:

  • $65 million for the National Guard Counter-Drug Program, which the Iowa National AirGuard participates in
  • $847 million for the Small Business Administration, including $261 million for Entrepreneurial Development Programs and $135 million for Small Business Development Centers
  • Allows Customs and Border Protection to hire an additional 240 Agriculture Specialists to help protect against the African Swine Fever
  • $425 million for State Election Security Grants to improve election systems and protect our elections from interference
  • $492.5 million for Department of Defense Cancer Research, including breast, kidney, ovarian, and rare cancer research
  • $22.3 billion for Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), including $17.8 billion for disaster response and recovery efforts and $2.9 billion for state and local grants
  • $3.28 billion in grants to local and state law enforcement, including the Byrne JAG program and funding to address blacklogs in sexual assault cases

The bill also provides the funding to support a 3.1% pay raise for the men and women of the U.S. armed forces.

 

A product of bipartisan, bicameral negotiations, this legislation also ensures that the government remains open for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2020, providing budget certainty to federal employees and their families ahead of the holidays.

 

Axne Votes to Invest in Health and Education, Infrastructure, and Rural Communities

The bill includes extension of the biodiesel tax credit, repeal of harmful healthcare taxes, and Axne-led provision blocking Congressional pay raises

Washington D.C. — Today, Rep. Cindy Axne (IA-03) voted to pass a package of appropriations bills and tax extenders, investing in key programs that help Iowans and provides funding certainty for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2020.

 

“These investments in Iowa will be key to increasing access to health care and a quality education, investing in our rural communities, growing small business investments, helping our seniors, ensuring environmental protections and honoring our responsibilities to our veterans,” said Rep. Axne. “In addition, I’m happy to see much-needed tax provisions to extend critical biofuel tax credits andpermanently repeal health care taxes that would hurt Iowans.”

 

The bill includes a revival of the biodiesel tax credit until 2022 and an extension of the second generation biofuel tax credits until 2021, provisions that Rep. Axne has fought for since coming to Congress — and which will create good-paying green jobs, support Iowa farmers and producers.

 

The bill passed by the House today, H.R. 1865, provides funding for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Department of Transportation, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and other key executive branch agencies and programs.

 

A number of provisions in the final bill reflect priorities for Iowa and issues which Rep. Axne wrote to members of the House Appropriations Committee to advocate for:

 

  • $3.4 billion for Community Development Block Grants to provide grants to cities, counties, and rural areas to help meet the needs of low-income families
  • $1.5 billion in unspent 2017 funds for disaster relief, which can now go to those impacted by the 2019 flooding
  • $2.8 billion for Alzheimer’s disease research, $27 million for Diabetes Prevention Program, and $195 million for the Cancer Moonshot research initiative at the National Institutes of Health
  • $10.6 billion for Head Start and $13.9 billion for Special Education
  • $640 million investment in rural broadband to support education, healthcare, and economic development
  • $196 million for Family Caregiver Services, which supports those who are providing care to their families and loved ones
  • $405 million for the Senior Community Services Employment for Older Americans Program
  • $2.8 billion for Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Grants for skills training programs
  • Increases the maximum Pell Grant to $6,345.00, to help keep pace with inflation
  • $16 million for the Zero Suicide program at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, including for children and youth; and $19 million for the Suicide Lifeline
  • $80.2 billion for medical care at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, including $222 million in suicide prevention outreach activities
  • $400 million for Airport Improvement Grants and $2.2 billion for Highway Infrastructure Programs

The bill also includes a provision championed by Rep. Axne to block a pay raise for her and her fellow members of Congress, and a permanent repeal of the health insurance, ‘Cadillac,’ and medical device taxes – which Rep. Axne called on House leadership to include in the year-end deal.

 

In addition, divisions of this legislation include bills that Rep. Axne has supported, including: H.R. 1175, the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act; H.R. 510, the Building Rail Access for Customers and the Economy (BRACE) Act; H.R. 2147, the Revitalizing Underdeveloped Rural Areas and Lands (RURAL) Act; H.R. 1994, the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act; H.R. 2284, the Disaster Tax Relief Bill Act; H.R. 3851, the Travel Promotion, Enhancement, and Modernization Act; andH.R. 4634, the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2019.

 

A product of bipartisan, bicameral negotiations, this legislation also ensures that the government remains open for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2020, providing budget certainty to federal employees and their families ahead of the holidays.

 

Statement from Representative Cindy Axne, December 21:

 

President Trump Signs Axne-Supported Bills Included in Year-End Spending Legislation

Renewals for biodiesel and biofuel tax credits, support for small business and rural development, and repeal of health care taxes are now law

Washington D.C. — Yesterday, President Donald Trump signed into law numerous measures supported by Rep. Cindy Axne (IA-03) that will eliminate the threat of burdensome healthcare taxes, bring investment to Iowa’s green economy and rural communities, help with disaster recovery and support local farmers, producers and small businesses.

 

“I’m happy to see measures that are critical for helping Iowa families and businesses in 2020 become law,” said Rep. Axne. “I’m thankful that the President has signed these bills that I supported this year, and I’m proud of the work we have done in the House to get them included in the final law.”

 

Biodiesel & Biofuel Tax Credits

 

Provisions to extend the biodiesel tax credit through 2022 and the second-generation biofuel producer credit through 2020 were included in the appropriations package that was signed into law yesterday.

 

Since coming to Congress, I have made it a priority to address these expired tax credits,” Rep. Axne said. “Farmers are taking it on the chin with the ongoing trade war and the EPA undermining the RFS at every turn. We have seen plants stall or shut down, causing folks to lose their jobs and farmers to lose their buyers. I am glad to see the provision signed into law to bring our farmers and producers some market certainty, create jobs, and set us on a path towards a cleaner environmental future.”

 

These critical tax credits expired at the end of 2017, leaving Iowa farmers and producers with significant uncertainty. Rep. Axne hasconsistently advocated for these provisions from the beginning of the year.

 

Repeal of the Health Insurance Tax, ‘Cadillac’ Tax, and Medical Device Tax

 

The new law includes a permanent repeal of a mandated health insurance tax (HIT), ‘Cadillac’ tax, and medical device tax. These repeals will protect middle class Iowans from higher health care costs and end the cycle of delays that have spread uncertainty in the health care markets.

 

“These taxes were looming over Iowans, waiting to see how much their health care will cost in 2020,” said Rep. Axne. “By permanently ending the threat of these burdensome taxes, I am not only making sure Iowa families aren’t paying even more for their care, but also creating stability in our health care.”

 

Rep. Axne has continually advocated repealing these taxes. Earlier this month, Rep. Axne wrote to House leadership to ensure that as many as 142 million Americans were spared from the implementation of the HIT.

 

In July, Rep. Axne voted to permanently repeal the ‘Cadillac’ tax, the 40 percent excise tax on the most expensive employer-provided health insurance plans.

 

Renewing Tax Breaks for Iowa Craft Brewers, Distillers

 

The new law extends expiring tax breaks for Iowa’s craft breweries, wineries, and distilleries. Authorized in 2017, the tax breaks cut per-barrel excise taxes with the largest reduction going to the first 60,000 barrels of a brewery’s production.

 

“Our small brewers and distillers are the pride of Iowa and helping give us a nationwide reputation as a hotspot for a good local brew,”said Rep. Axne. “I’m happy that their production can benefit from an extension of this vital tax credit.”

 

Iowa is home to more than 100 craft breweries, supporting thousands of Iowa jobs, and is projected to produce more than 146,000 barrels this year. Earlier this year, Rep. Axne cosponsored the House version of this reauthorization.

 

Giving Tax Relief to Aid Flood Recovery

 

The Disaster Tax Relief Act was included in the legislation signed into law, providing tax relief for Iowans affected by the 2019 floods.

 

“I’m glad that we’re lending another helping hand to those Iowans affected by recent flooding,” said Rep. Axne. “By providing them the means to keep businesses intact, deductions for their damaged property, and other tax help, our families and communities don’t have to worry that a natural disaster will break their budget.”

 

The bill would help impacted Iowans keep their paychecks coming in by providing retention credits to employers with inoperable businesses that continue to pay their employees. In addition, it would expand deductions for destroyed property, encourage donations to projects in disaster areas, and remove the penalty for early withdrawals from retirement accounts.

 

The original legislation was introduced in April in the House with Rep. Axne as a cosponsor.

 

Helping Electric Cooperatives Invest in Development, Disaster Recovery

 

The new law also includes legislation that would reopen government grants to electric cooperatives (co-ops) to allow for invests in improvements in broadband service or disaster relief.

 

“Electric cooperatives provide the power for more than 600,000 Iowans,” said Rep. Axne. “Allowing them to partner again with government to build improvements in our communities will help strengthen our energy infrastructure.”

 

Changes in tax law in 2017 blocked co-ops from accepting any kind of local, state, or federal grant funding without risking their tax-exempt status.

 

In addition, the new law contains other Axne-supported divisions, including: H.R. 510, the Building Rail Access for Customers and the Economy (BRACE) Act; H.R. 1994, the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act;  H.R. 3851, the Travel Promotion, Enhancement, and Modernization Act; and H.R. 4634, the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2019.

 

Statement from Representative Steve King, December 17:

King Discusses Votes Against $1.4 Trillion in Irresponsible Spending Bills

“Too much money, too little time, and no process that allowed for any kind of oversight.”

 

Washington D.CCongressman Steve King releases the following video of comments he delivered during a Facebook Live broadcast today. In his remarks, King discusses his reasons for voting against irresponsible spending bills totaling $1.4 Trillion in spending that were rushed through the House of Representatives today with little to no opportunity for Members to review the contents prior to the votes.

 

While there are things in each of the bills that King likes (see the included list of King’s legislative successes below), such as the tax extenders package for the Bio-diesel credit (King was a cosponsor of that legislation), in the end it came down to this:

“The first thing I request is this: I want regular order.  I want an open process. I want an opportunity to weigh in on these pieces of appropriations bills with amendments. I want to hear the debate on the amendments that others might have offered. And, in the end, I want also fiscal responsibility. $1.4 Trillion in spending without scrutiny is not fiscal responsibility…The whole picture was too much money, too little time, no process that allowed for any kind of oversight by the regular members on the floor of the House of Representatives.”

 

Despite his opposition to the underlying bills, Congressman King was incredibly successful in ensuring that many of his most important legislative priorities received funding. According to a document prepared by the House Appropriations Committee, the following King priorities were included in the 12 bills passed in the House of Representatives today.

 

Congressman Steve King (IA-4)

 

Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies

  1. $1 million is provided for the new Genome to Phenome program at the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
  2. No language is included to interfere with the mandatory funds provided to the Market Access Program.
  3. $16.3 million is provided in the bill for the National Animal Health Laboratory Network between the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
  4. $315 million for the Smith-Lever Act, Section 3(b) and 3(c) programs and cooperative extension, maintaining the FY19 level.
  5. $57 million for Extension Services at 1890 Institutions, an increase of $8.3 million.
  6. $67 million for the Evans-Allen Program/Research at 1890 Institutions within the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, which is a $9 million increase.
  7. $1.3 billion is provided for the Agricultural Research Service, an increase of $44.3 million.
  8. $1 billion is provided for the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Research and Education account, which is an increase of $105.4 million.
  9. $5.5 billion for direct electric loans for rural electric improvements as well as $750 million for guaranteed electric loans, the same level as provided in the FY19 enacted law.
  10. $20 million in loans is supported by the bill for the Rural Energy for America Program.
  11. $425 million for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, an increase of $10 million.
  12. $259 million for the Hatch Act program within the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, maintaining the FY19 level.
  13. $36 million for the McIntire-Stennis Cooperative Forestry Act program, maintaining the FY19 level.
  14. The bill provides $26.5 million, an increase of $5.7 million for the appropriate assistance to state wildlife agencies for the Equine, Cervid, and Small Ruminant Health Program.  The increased funds may also be used for research collaboration with the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Academy of Sciences, and other public and private entities.
  15. $5.7 million increase for the Equine, Cervid, and Small Ruminant Health Program to address Chronic Wasting Disease.
  16. $5.7 million increase for the Equine, Cervid, and Small Ruminant Health Program includes research collaboration with the U.S. Geological Survey, the National Academy of Sciences, and other public and private entities.
  17. $175 million for the Natural Resources Conservation Service Small Watershed Program, which is a $25 million increase.

 

Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies

  1. $547 million for the Department of Justice for Byrne Justice Assistance Grants (JAG).
  2. $235 million for the Department of Justice for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) Hiring program.
  3. $244 million for the Department of Justice State Criminal Alien Assistance Program.
  4. $2.6 billion for grants administered by the Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime.
  5. $38 million for the Department of Justice for regional information sharing activities.
  6. $48 million for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Space Grant program to support all 52 participating jurisdictions at no less than $760,000 each.
  7. $146 million for the Department of Commerce for the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program.

 

Defense

  1. $150 million provided in the Defense Health Program for Peer-Reviewed Breast Cancer Research.
  2. $10 million increase in Army research for Peer-Reviewed Military Burn research.
  3. $7.1 million increase in Air Force operations and maintenance for the Civil Air Patrol.
  4. $11 million provided in Air Force procurement for Civil Air Patrol aircraft.
  5. $3.5 million provided in Air Force procurement for Civil Air Patrol vehicle and communication equipment procurement.
  6. $20 million provided in the Defense Health Program for Peer-Reviewed Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis research.
  7. $110 million provided in the Defense Health Program for Peer-Reviewed Prostate Cancer Research.
  8. $6 million provided in the Defense Health Program for Peer-Reviewed Tuberous Sclerosis Complex research.

 

Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies

  1. $425 million for Department of Energy Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).
  2. $104 million for Department of Energy Wind Energy program.
  3. Full use of estimated annual revenues and some additional prior year revenues in the Inland Waterways Trust Fund (Corps of Engineers).
  4. $3.7 billion for Corps of Engineers Operation and Maintenance account.
  5. Report language on Corps of Engineers Navigation and Ecosystem Sustainability Program and additional funding specifically for multipurpose projects in the preconstruction engineering and design phase.
  6. $145.1 million total for Bureau of Reclamation rural water projects.

 

Homeland Security

  1. $1.9 billion for Customs and Border Protection Procurement, Construction, and Improvements: $1.375 billion for border barriers with no transfer restrictions, $14.8 million for coastal interceptor vessels, and $32.5 million for lightweight helicopters.
  2. Includes funds as requested for intelligent enforcement systems and opioid detection.

 

Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies

  1. Report language under Indian Health Service regarding the Siouxland Human Investment Partnership.
  2. $46 million in Fish and Wildlife Service – North American Wetlands Conservation Fund.
  3. $1.7 million in US Geological Survey – Surveys, Investigations, and Research for Chronic Wasting Disease.
  4. Report language under US Geological Survey – Surveys, Investigations, and Research, regarding Chronic Wasting Disease.

 

Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies

  1. $38.7 million for the Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights.
  2. $35 million for Sexual Risk Avoidance in the Department of Health and Human Services.
  3. $1.6 billion in discretionary funding for the Department of Health and Human Services Health Centers program.
  4. $42.1 million for the Department of Health and Human Services Adoption Opportunities program.
  5. $55 million for the Department of Labor Homeless Veterans Reintegration program.
  6. $10 million for the Department of Health and Human Services National ALS Registry program.
  7. $94.5 million for the Department of Labor YouthBuild program.
  8. $12 million for the Department of Health and Human Services Healthy Athletes program.
  9. $40.2 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services National Institutes of Health.
  10. $5,285 maximum Pell Grant per individual in the academic year 2020-2021.
  11. $770 million for the Community Services Block Grant program.
  12. $1.1 billion for the Department of Education Federal Work Study program.
  13. Language included related to patient identification options.

 

Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies

  1. Report language for Department of Veterans Affairs regarding funding of wheelchairs.

 

State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs

  1. Language supporting the Action Plan on Children in Adversity.
  2. Language included on Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS).
  3. $227.5 million for Conventional Weapons Destruction.

 

Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies

  1. Bill language requiring the Department of Transportation to exempt certain agricultural haulers from electronic logging device requirements.
  2. $162 million for the Department of Transportation Essential Air Service.

 

 

Statements from Senator Chuck Grassley, December 17:

Year-End Spending Package Includes Wins or Biodiesel, Disaster Affected Areas

Washington Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) made the following comments on the deal reached by lawmakers regarding temporary tax code provisions also known as “extenders.”
“After years of uncertainty for many Americans, we’ve finally come to an agreement on the future of these temporary tax policies. Many people in my state, farmers and processors alike, can breathe a sigh of relief that Congress will extend the biodiesel tax credit retroactively and through 2022. That industry employs more than 60,000 Americans, including thousands of Iowans. This extension provides important, longer-term stability for them and their communities. As chairman of the Finance Committee, I led the effort to get this top priority done.
“We are also extending tax relief needed to help rebuild in areas where natural disasters have devastated homes and businesses. This will help people in Iowa who saw historic, damaging floods in 2019 as well as Californians and others who’ve endured some of the biggest wildfires in recent history.
“We found a path to extend a small but significant set of policies by negotiating through midnight last night. This may not be the package I’d have pushed for on my own, but it’s a reasonable way forward that provides certainty where before there was only anxiety for many Americans.”
The package includes the extensions of the following policies:
  • Multi-year extension of the Biodiesel Tax Credit through (2022);
  • Multi-year extension of the Short-line Railroad Tax Credit (through 2022);
  • Extension of disaster tax relief;
  • Single-year extension of the Wind Energy Production Tax Credit;
  • Resolution of tax-exempt organization parking tax;
  • Clarification of the tax benefits for rural electric cooperatives (RURAL Act).
Full text of the legislative package can be found HERE.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) released the following statement on the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2020. The annual funding bill provides critical resources for national defense, military readiness and support for the nation’s service members.
“National defense is the number one responsibility of the federal government, and ensuring our military efforts receive appropriate resources is critical to the safety of our country. This legislation also includes a well-deserved pay raise for members of our armed forced. I will continue to conduct robust oversight to help cut wasteful military spending while also ensuring our men and women in uniform have everything that they need to perform their mission,” Grassley said.
Grassley introduced an amendment to the FY 2020 NDAA legislation that would have increased transparency by requiring the DOD to report to Congress on contracting practices, specifically on the sole source spare parts contracts for which the DoD is unable to obtain accurate cost data. This amendment is a product of Grassley’s continuous oversight work on overpriced spare parts purchased by the DoD. The NDAA as passed by Congress includes similar language requiring the GAO to report on the DoD’s efforts to secure reasonable prices in contracts.
Grassley also sent a letter to the leadership of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees urging them not to adopt a House provision in the FY 2020 NDAA that would have restricted audit firm transparency requirements that are already in effect. That provision was ultimately not included, and the law requiring audit firms to report all disciplinary proceedings to the DoD will remain in place.
Earlier this year, Grassley sent a letter to then-Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick M. Shanahan asking for more information about how the DoD contracts with businesses and other entities in overpricing, specifically citing TransDigm. Additionally, Grassley asked about DoD’s process to collect cost data from those entities and how Congress can help DoD to stop price-gouging practices. Grassley also critiqued DoD’s contracts with TransDigm in a floor speech and an op-ed. He recently sent a follow up letter to Ellen M. Lord, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment, seeking an update on how DoD is confronting TransDigm’s costly contracting practices.
Grassley has been a watchdog against waste, fraud and abuse at the DoD for nearly four decades. Grassley’s extensive oversight work throughout his career has included a dogged pursuit for answers from the Pentagon over decades of wasteful spending and its inability to produce a clean financial audit. Read his most recent statement on another failed audit here.

Statement from Senator Joni Ernst, December 17:

Annual Defense Bill Advances with Ernst’s Support and Priorities Included

The Iowa Senator, a combat veteran, successfully secured nearly all of her priorities in the FY20 NDAA, including her proposals to:

address and prevent military sexual assault, provide oversight on resources given to the Pentagon, and invest in critical technologies.

 

WASHINGTON –U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA), a combat veteran and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, proudly supported the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The final bipartisan, bicameral defense bill includes nearly all of Senator Ernst’s priorities, including her proposals to address military sexual assault, to improve Iowa’s critical contributions to our nation’s defense, and to invest in technological advancements to face the threats of today and well into the future.

 

“Having worn our nation’s uniform, I take seriously the responsibility we have to provide our servicemembers with the support, authorities, and resources they need to carry out their mission. This bipartisan defense bill includes a number of my priorities that will directly impact all Americans and bolster our national security so that we are outpacing and maintaining a strategic advantage against our adversaries.”

 

“Congress has passed an annual defense bill 58 years in a row, and in an overwhelmingly bipartisan way, and I’m proud to say that after tremendous hard work and commitment, we’ve fulfilled our obligation once again. The House and Senate have acted, and I’m confident President Trump will swiftly sign this critical bill into law,” said Senator Joni Ernst, the first female combat veteran elected to the Senate.

 

Nearly all of Ernst’s priorities from the Senate-passed NDAA were included in the FY20 NDAA Conference Report. Below are a few highlights:

  • Expanding support for victims of military sexual assault and domestic violence through provisions focusing on both prevention and successful prosecution of these serious offenses;
  • Improving research on TBI among servicemembers and strengthening the capacity to track and mitigate injuries caused by blast pressure exposure;
  • Sustaining and enhancing the workload at the Rock Island Arsenal;
  • Ensuring the production of much needed combat munitions at the Iowa Army Ammunition Plant;
  • Requesting a briefing on DoD’s efficient and transparent use of Iowa tax dollars through language similar to Ernst’s COST Act;
  • Ensuring the Special Operations Command has the resources and authorities they need to be most effective in the fight today and in the future;
  • Increasing research and development for key technologies like artificial intelligence, directed energy, and hypersonics to deter adversaries such as China and Russia.

 

For a full recap of the Ernst provisions included in the bill, click here.

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