Kilmer Statement on Passage of the Energy and Water Development, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Legislative Branch Appropriations Bill
WASHINGTON, DC—Today the House of Representatives passed the FY2019 Energy and Water Development, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Legislative Branch Appropriations Bill. Representative Derek Kilmer (D-WA), the Vice Ranking Member of the House Committee on Appropriations said:
“This bipartisan agreement is a great step forward that makes smart investments in our region,” Kilmer said. “These funds will be used to treat veterans in need of medical care or grappling with addiction and will strengthen infrastructure at VA facilities to improve the quality of care. The agreement also ensures that important investments will move forward to protect Puget Sound and help our nation grow clean energy jobs.”
The bill included a number of priorities for which Representative Kilmer advocated:
Improves VA Infrastructure and Accountability
The conference report provides the second installment of $2 billion for VA infrastructure needs. The funding includes $800 million for Medical Facilities for non-recurring maintenance, $750 million for seismic improvements, $300 million for Major Construction, and $150 million for Minor Construction. It also carries forward a Kilmer-drafted provision from the House report directing the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to report back to the Committee regarding the roles, responsibility and accountability of elements and individuals of the Department to assist with management improvement.
Expands Opioid Prevention and Treatment for Veterans
The conference report provides $348 million for opioid treatment and prevention programs and $52 million to continue to implement opioid safety initiatives outlined as part of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, as well as to develop programs aimed at ensuring that non-VA providers treating veterans through community care programs are informed and in compliance with all VA standards for opioid safety and prescription guidelines.
Advances the Application of Innovative Wood Products Like Cross-Laminated Timber
The conference report includes $5,000,000 for the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy to conduct early stage research, development, and demonstration of technologies to advance energy efficient, high-rise Cross-Laminated Timber building systems. It also includes direction to DOE to support university research, in partnership with the national laboratories, to develop, construct and evaluate Cross-Laminated Timber wall systems for a variety of energy efficiency benefits. Additionally, the report directs the Army Corps of Engineers to continue activities to encourage the use of this innovative advanced wood product, and carries forward Kilmer’s provision from the House Passed Military Construction and Veterans Administration bill directing the Secretary of Defense to expand the application of these innovative technologies in future military construction projects.
Invests in Salmon Habitat Recovery
The conference report directs the Army Corps to advance the projects outlined in the Puget Sound Nearshore Ecosystem Restoration Project (PSNERP), a comprehensive plan to invest more than $450 million to restore over 2,100 acres of degraded habitat throughout Puget Sound. The report also directs the Corps to invest in projects that improve stormwater capture capabilities and improve water quality.
Protects Hydropower Ratepayers
The final bill includes a Kilmer-backed provision to prohibit the use of funds by the DOE to implement the Trump Administration’s proposal to sell the transmission assets of the Bonneville Power Administration which would jeopardize the region’s access to reliable and affordable energy.
OTHER FUNDING PRIORITIES
In addition to Kilmer’s priorities, the bill included a number of investments that Kilmer supports including:
Increases Funding for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
The conference report provides $2.38 billion for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy programs in the Department of Energy to support the development of clean, renewable, and energy efficiency technologies across the country. The conference reports reverses a House cut of $243 million and provides $57 million above the FY 2018 enacted level.
Supports Innovations in Energy Technology
The conference report provides $366 million for the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), which promotes and funds research and development of advanced energy technology. The conference report reverses a House cut of $28 million, rejects President Trump’s proposed elimination of the agency, and provides $12.7 million above the FY 2018 enacted level.