Kilmer Statement on Passage of Bill to Fund the Government

Washington, D.C. – Representative Derek Kilmer (D-WA) released the following statement after the House voted to approve the Fiscal Year 2017 Omnibus Appropriations Act. The legislation would fund the federal government through the rest of the fiscal year.

“Today Congress did something the American people are clamoring for – work together to solve problems,” said Kilmer, Vice Ranking Member for the House Appropriations Committee. “Like every compromise, this isn’t perfect, but it does some good for folks in our region by funding economic development priorities, helping Puget Sound cleanup efforts, investing in an earthquake early warning system, and giving our troops a pay raise.”

As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, Kilmer fought to ensure that the final funding bill includes priorities for Washington. In particular, a measure was included to restore the ability for students to receive Pell Grants year-round, so they can accelerate their studies and finish a degree sooner. That eligibility was previously cut in 2011. After coming to Congress, Kilmer introduced a bill to bring year-round Pell Grants back. 

The final bill provides additional investments to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The agency focuses on life-saving research and making breakthroughs on diseases like Alzheimer’s, cancer, and diabetes.

The legislation also supports investments in:

National Security:

The Act makes investments important to Naval Base Kitsap and America’s national security, supporting a fleet of 10 aircraft carriers while fully funding the construction of an eleventh, along with the Ohio-class submarine replacement program. It provides a 2.1 percent pay raise for members of the military and makes significant investments in maintenance and readiness including at facilities like Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Keyport Undersea Warfare Center. 

Rural Jobs and Environmental Protection:

Puget Sound: Invests $28 million in the Puget Sound Geographic Program which implements projects dedicated to the restoration of the Puget Sound. Kilmer has led efforts to highlight the importance of this funding to the President and to others in Congress. 

Early Earthquake Warning System: Continues ongoing investments in an Early Earthquake Warning System for the entire West Coast. Kilmer has consistently fought to make the service completely operational.

Salmon Recovery: Puts $62 million into the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund. The fund was created in 2000 to halt the decline of Pacific salmon and steelhead, supporting efforts to boost populations in Western states like Washington. This is critical to jobs in Washington state.

Coastal Waters: Commits $27 million to the National Estuary Program that works to improve waters and habitats of estuaries in states like Washington. Estuaries are enclosed coastal bodies of water where freshwater mixes with saltwater.

Coastal Resiliency: Invests $100 million in the National Pre-Disaster Mitigation Fund, which supports state, local, and tribal governments looking to invest in prevention and protection ahead of natural disasters that can strike coastal communities.

It also invests $85 million in Coastal Zone Management Grants which helps coastal states address issues like climate change and rising sea levels. 

Access to Forest Roads: Supports $40 million for the Legacy Roads & Trails program which has been critical to restoring access to roads in national forests along with protecting fish and wildlife and cleaning up pollution in critical watersheds.

Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Fund: Dedicates $40 million to encourage the collaborative, science-based ecosystem restoration of priority forest landscapes. Collaborative public-private partnerships create initiatives and investments that have boosted Washington state’s forest product industry.

Kilmer helped officially launch the Olympic Peninsula Forest Collaborative with regional leaders from the National Forest Service, local governments, the local timber industry, and environmental advocacy groups. The Collaborative is focused on increasing harvest levels, landscape restoration, watershed protection, and habitat conservation that will create economic opportunities on the Olympic Peninsula.

Hatchery Genetic Management Plans (HGMPs): Includes $4 million to expedite approval of HGMPs, which ensure that salmon and steelhead hatchery programs in states like Washington are rooted in sound science and in compliance with the Endangered Species Act. This is important to Washington’s fisheries.   

Economic Development:

Waterways: Provides $1.3 billion for the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund which supports the operation and maintenance of ports and harbors in Washington state. Kilmer has introduced bipartisan legislation to reform the Harbor Maintenance Tax.

Infrastructure Projects: Invests $500 million in the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program that provides funding to transportation projects like Tacoma’s Link light rail.

Water Treatment: Invests $571.19 million in the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program which provides funding for clean and reliable drinking water systems and storm water drainage to homes and businesses in rural areas.

Regional Priorities:

Behavioral Health: Directs Health and Human Services to provide Congress with a list of options for building inpatient mental health facilities. A partnership in Tacoma is pursuing such an investment to provide vital mental health services.   

Sewage from British Columbia: Maintains language included in a House Appropriations report directing the State Department to assess whether Canada has violated any commitments between the two nations over the dumping of raw sewage in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Kilmer has repeatedly called on Canada to take care of the problem.