House Appropriations Committee Passes Two Spending Bills That Include Initiatives Authored by Kilmer

The FY 2019 Defense Appropriations Bill includes Kilmer’s repeal of a Department of Defense per diem policy change that forces federal workers to pay more out of pocket when travelling for work, and $2 million in funds to develop technology that makes Naval jets flying over the region quieter.

 The FY 2019 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Bill includes a Kilmer plan to help tribes get rural broadband, adds $130 million for Small Business Development Centers, and mandates a report from election watchdog on online political ads

WASHINGTON, DCToday, the House Committee on Appropriations passed two spending bills, the Defense Appropriations Act and the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, that allocate funding for key priorities for Fiscal Year 2019. Both bills included priorities authored and championed by Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA), who is the Committee’s Vice Ranking Member.

“My focus is on jobs and on the financial wellbeing of folks in our neck of the woods,” Rep. Kilmer said. “The Department of Defense is the largest employer in our region, so Congress’s spending plan directly effects our local economy.  That’s why I pushed hard to secure a raise for our sailors and to stop an unfair policy that takes money from federal workers travelling for work.  I also pushed for investments that support entrepreneurs working to create new jobs and funding that will help get high speed broadband to rural communities in our region.”

FY 2019 Defense Appropriations Bill

The defense bill includes a 2.6 percent pay raise for service members, which is the largest raise this decade. It also includes $22.7 billion for 12 new Navy ships. 

In addition to these major proposals, the bill includes funding for a number of other regional priorities Kilmer has consistently pushed for, including:

Per Diem Fix

Kilmer fought to add language to the bill prohibiting the Defense Department from reducing the per diem reimbursement rate for federal workers when they are on extended official travel. 

In 2014, the DOD changed its policy and cut per diem rates for federal employees and members of the military who travel longer than 30 days for work. The cuts meant workers on extended travel would be paid between 25 percent and 45 percent less than under the old policy, depending on how long they’re working away from home. 

Kilmer introduced a bipartisan bill in March 2015 to reverse those cuts. Since then, he’s successfully worked with a bipartisan group of lawmakers to make sure this provision has been included in the House Defense Bill for each Fiscal Year, including 2019. He is continuing to fight for a permanent restoration of the DOD’s long-term per diem rates. 

 Congress needs to get the country’s finances in order, but nickel-and-diming federal workers and asking them to foot the bill when they’re on work travel isn’t the way to do it,” Kilmer said.

National Shipyard Funding

Today’s spending bill increases funding for modernizing the nation’s shipyards by nearly $300,000,000, and calls out the need for Congress to make future investments in the nation’s shipyards, piers, docks and underwater ranges, which Kilmer supports

 Quieter Growlers

The bill includes $2 million in new funding for the Navy to research and develop technologies to reduce the noise produced by the EA-18G Growlers, which train in the airspace above the Olympic Peninsula.

 “These funds are an important step in reducing jet noise in our region. This is good news for the Navy and for folks in our region who live in the area the Navy trains in.” Kilmer said.

 FY 2019 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act

Campaign Finance Reform

This bill includes an amendment offered by Kilmer directing the Federal Election Commission to develop a plan for improving transparency related to online political spending.  While campaign finance laws require disclosure of information related to TV and radio ads, there are currently no disclosure requirements for online political ads.

“There’s too much money in politics,” Kilmer said. “Voters ought to know who is paying for the ads in their newsfeeds. As it has done for television and radio, Congress needs to set rules for online political ads so Americans know who is trying to influence our elections.”

Kilmer introduced the Honest Ads Act in the House. That bill would shine a light on the murky world of online political advertising by requiring the same disclosure rules that TV and radio currently require.

 Rural Broadband

Today’s bill includes a request from Rep. Kilmer that directs the Federal Communications Commission to develop a strategy that helps Federally Recognized Tribes access high speed broadband service. 

 Small Business Development Centers

The bill includes $130,000,000 for the Small Business Development Center program. Regional SBDC’s help entrepreneurs start small businesses, especially in communities where the benefits of the economic recovery have been slow to arrive.

Next Step

Nearly two weeks ago, Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which set the target funding levels for the Department of Defense. Today, the Appropriations Committee approved the allocation of those funds for FY 2019. The next step for both Appropriations bills is a vote by the full House.