June 25, 2019

Kilmer-Backed Priorities Included in Second Appropriations Package

Washington, D.C. – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 3055, the second Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 appropriations package which funds the U.S. Departments of Commerce, Justice, Agriculture, Interior, Veterans Affairs, Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development. The legislation passed the House 227-194. 

“The passage of the spending package today is a big win for Northwest Washington and I’m proud to support it,” said Rep. Kilmer. “This bill continues to make progress on important priorities for our region – like protecting the environment and investing in our natural landscapes, making our communities safer, honoring commitments to Indian country, supporting affordable housing, and bringing broadband to more rural areas.” 

The package includes a number of priorities for the region championed by Rep. Kilmer, including:

 Restoring Puget Sound

 The FY 2020 Interior Appropriations Bill includes a $5 million increase in the Puget Sound Geographic Program, which provides grants to state, local, and tribal governments to implement projects that protect jobs and local economies by improving water quality, enhancing fish passage, increasing salmon habitat, and protecting shorelines. The total funding level of $33 million included in the FY 2020 bill is an increase of more than 18% above the current funding level and is a larger proportional increase than the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (6%) and the Chesapeake Bay (16%) Geographic Programs.

Additionally, each of the 28 National Estuary Programs (NEPs) received a $100,000 increase over the FY 2019 enacted level, as well as a $3 million increase for competitive grants. The Puget Sound National Estuary Program is an Environmental Protection Agency place-based program to protect and restore the water quality and ecological integrity of estuaries of national significance, including Puget Sound - the nation’s second largest estuary. 

In addition, Rep. Kilmer helped secure $1.5 million for the Southern Resident Killer Whales program to increase research and monitoring to improve the recovery of the species.

“We know what we need to do to recover Puget Sound,” said Laura Blackmore, Executive Director, Puget Sound Partnership. “The primary barrier between us and more food for orcas, clean and sufficient water supplies for people and fish, sustainable working lands, and harvestable shellfish beds is funding. These proposed budget increases would be a very welcome boost to Puget Sound recovery, to orca recovery, and to estuarine recovery nationwide.”

Investing in Forest Collaboration Management and Forest Restoration

Rep. Kilmer authored a provision highlighting the value of collaborative forest management and directing the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to prioritize resources to better leverage support from existing Forest Collaboratives to expedite project development and approval of forest treatments developed by Collaboratives. This provision will help collaboratives like the Olympic Forest Collaborative continue to advance forest treatments that increase harvest levels while also achieving much needed environmental benefits like landscape restoration, watershed protection, and habitat conservation, in order to create more economic opportunities on the Olympic Peninsula.

The legislation also includes a $257 million increase for the Forest Service’s non-firefighting activities.

Additionally, Rep. Kilmer advocated for the legislation to include an increase for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Forest Stewardship Program (also known as the Working Forest Lands Program), totaling $20.5 million, which plays a vital role in engaging family landowners in active, long-term stewardship of their land by helping landowners develop comprehensive plans to accomplish their own management goals while meeting state-wide priorities as determined by forest action plans.

“We appreciate Rep. Kilmer’s leadership in helping secure critical investments for necessary work on overstocked and at-risk national forests,” said Travis Joseph, President, American Forest Resource Council. “Increased funding for active, sustainable forest management, thinning, forest roads, and smart wildfire suppression – while engaging diverse stakeholders and partner organizations – will improve the health and resiliency of our forests, local economies, and surrounding communities.”

Combating Climate Change and Investing in Resiliency

In order to continue making meaningful progress towards combating the impacts of climate change, Rep. Kilmer fought to increase federal funding for programs that support state efforts to protect vulnerable communities from coastal hazards and other consequences of climate change. The bill includes $81 million for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Coastal Zone Management Grants, which provide core funding for states to address important national and state coastal management priorities. Rep. Kilmer also ensured that the Committee encourages NOAA to support mitigation and relocation efforts of coastal tribal communities, like the Hoh, Quileute, and Makah tribes, that are seeking to mitigate the threat of severe weather storms and promote public safety.

In addition, the legislation includes $74 million for NOAA’s Climate Research Cooperative Institutes to support cutting-edge research on climate, ocean, and fishery science and directs $2.5 million toward the creation of a regional pilot program, in partnership with two or more state Sea Grant Programs, focused on enhancing coastal resiliency.

The legislation also includes $60 million for the U.S Geological Survey (USGS) to support the eight regionally-focused Climate Adaptation Science Centers (CASCs) around the country

and rejects the Administration’s proposal to reduce the overall number of centers. These Climate Adaptation Science Centers (CASCs), which includes the Northwest Climate Adaptation Science Center housed at the University of Washington, provide actionable science and research that directly address many of the climate-related challenges unique to different regions of the country. 

“Rep. Derek Kilmer has been a staunch friend and ally for the City of Ocean Shores, WA, providing us with guidance and assistance when we declared an emergency when our geotubes failed, helping us develop strategies and partners to pursue solutions for the emergency, and assisting us in seeking and obtaining the long-term maintenance for the issues relating to our deteriorating navigation jetty,” said Crystal L. Dingler, Mayor, City of Ocean Shores.

Increasing Early Warning Capabilities for Natural Hazards and Disasters

Rep. Kilmer also championed an effort this Congress for a $1.5 million increase in NOAA’s Tsunami Warning Centers and for the National Tsunami Hazard Mitigation Program. The funding for these programs supports hazard identification and assessment; response and evacuation planning at both the state and community level; installation and maintenance of evacuation route signs; deployment, installation, and maintenance of the All Hazards Alert Broadcast tsunami warning siren system, which is comprised of 58 sirens along the coastline; and a robust program of outreach, education, and exercises. Without these funds, most, if not all, of these activities would be discontinued. 

The legislation also includes $18.6 million for the USGS for the construction, operation, and maintenance of a West Coast Earthquake Early Warning System.

In addition, the bill includes $30.36 million for the Volcano Hazards program to maintain support for next generation lahar detection operations and infrastructure on Mount Rainier and other high-threat volcanoes.

Finally, the bill includes $4.15 million for the Landslides Hazards program, which will help to prevent human and economic loss through the development of methods and models for landslide hazard assessment, monitoring, and tools for landslide early warning and situational awareness.

Fighting for Salmon Recovery

Rep. Kilmer also secured several key funding increases in NOAA’s budget to help recover salmon stocks and support the commercial, recreational and tribal fisheries that depend on them, including $30 million to implement the newly ratified Pacific Salmon Treaty, $25 million to support Mitchell Act hatchery activities, and $15 million to support communities impacted by recent fisheries disasters.

Originally signed by Canada and the United States in 1985, the Pacific Salmon Treaty provides a framework for the two countries to cooperatively manage Pacific salmon stocks focused on protecting and expanding spawning habitat, increasing hatchery production, and implementing conservation measures to prevent overfishing and maximize production. The $30 million included in this bill is critical in supporting the recommendations outlined in the Pacific Salmon Commission’s plan to implement the treaty.

The $25 million in dedicated funding for Mitchell Act hatchery activities will enable federal agencies to work with Oregon, Washington, and Idaho to establish and operate a series of hatcheries and fish passage facilities to improve declining salmon runs in the Columbia River System. These efforts will ensure the conservation of these critical natural resources, maintain economically viable tribal, commercial, and sports fisheries, and provide prey for Southern Resident killer whales.

In addition, the legislation includes $65 million for the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund to support efforts to protect and restore salmon habitat and maintain long-term monitoring to track the success of restoration efforts. This program is the primary source of funding dedicated to recovering wild salmon and steelhead populations listed as threatened and endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act.

“People here in the Pacific Northwest, along with our orcas and coastal ecosystems, depend on salmon returning to Puget Sound and the Columbia River,” said Jacques White, Executive Director, Long Live the Kings. “Long Live the Kings is grateful to Congressman Kilmer who has repeatedly demonstrated his commitment to protect and restore our salmon and our environment for future generations."

Honoring Federal Commitments by Investing to Indian Country

In an effort to address the longstanding deficit in federal funding needed to uphold the federal government’s treaty and trust obligations to Native American communities, Rep. Kilmer fought to secure significant increases in funding for both the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), which received a $432 million funding increase above FY 2019, and the Indian Health Service, which received a $537 million increase.

Rep. Kilmer also secured $42.3 million for the BIA’s Rights Protection Implementation (RPI) program - a $2 million increase focused on conservation and management of fish and wildlife resources. RPI funding has helped tribes throughout Washington state produce professional tribal fish and wildlife co-management programs that are achieving high results for their communities.

 In addition, the bill includes $15 million for the BIA’s Tribal Climate Resilience program, which will provide competitive awards to support vulnerable coastal tribal communities. Rep. Kilmer authored a provision directing additional assistance to ensure that tribal communities have the resources necessary to support adaptation planning and respond to current and projected impacts of climate change.

“The FY 2020 Interior appropriations bill will soon be considered in the House and includes an over $900 million increase in funding from last fiscal year for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Indian Health Services,” said Fawn Sharp, President, Quinault Indian Nation. “This legislation is an important step by the federal government in meeting its role as trustee to Native American Tribes. I would like to thank Congressman Derek Kilmer for his efforts as a member of the Appropriations Committee and for his leadership in addressing the continued federal funding shortfall for Native Americans as determined in the Broken Promises report of December 2018. I urge the House and Senate to expeditiously pass this legislation.”

Making Our Communities Safer

In 2018, Congress passed the Bipartisan STOP School Violence Act, which Rep. Kilmer co-led, to boost school efforts to develop violence prevention programs and coordinate with law enforcement to improve school safety. This year, Rep. Kilmer helped secure $125 million for the grant program - a $25 million increase - to help train students, teachers, school officials, and local law enforcement how to identify and intervene early when signs of violence arise and create a coordinated reporting system when threatening signs are noticed.

The bill also includes $582.5 million for the Violence Against Women Act Prevention and Prosecution Programs, an $85 million increase from the FY 2019 enacted level. The bill will include direct funding for federally-recognized Indian tribes.

“This funding is critical to protecting our children. We know that violence and suicide in our schools are preventable when we teach students and adults to ‘know the signs’ and reach out when they see someone hurting or need help themselves. We applaud the continued bipartisan commitment of Reps. Kilmer, Rogers, Deutch, Crist, and Rutherford, and the House of Representatives, to improve school safety through prevention and early intervention to stop future tragedies before they can happen,” said Mark Barden, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Sandy Hook Promise, and the father of Daniel, who was killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary tragedy.

Improving Quality of Care at the VA and Investing in Regional Facilities

Rep. Kilmer worked to secure several provisions that will help to improve the quality of care administered by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), including a $496 million increase for the Veterans Electronic Health Record to develop an interoperable electronic health record system that will access seamlessly the records of veterans in the VA system, the Department of Defense (DOD), and of community providers. The VA system is the same as the one chosen by DOD and is scheduled to be rolled out with the same timeline and geographic areas as DOD in order to realize cost efficiency savings.

In addition, Rep. Kilmer pushed for the bill to include a Committee recommendation that the VA conduct a pilot program to improve health outcomes and patient experience for beneficiaries with complex medical conditions. 

In a continued effort to invest in facilities and infrastructure at critical defense facilities across the region, the legislation includes $25 million for an Undersea Vehicle Maintenance Facility at Keyport and $51 million for Dry Dock 4 and Pier 3 modernization work at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.

Supporting Affordable Housing and Homeownership Programs

This year, Rep. Kilmer was able to help secure a $5.9 billion increase for the Department of Housing and Urban Development for a wide range of programs that support affordable housing and homeownership and to provide communities with resources to increase affordable housing stock, make homeownership more accessible, and increase access to rental assistance, including:

  • a $500 million increase for the HOME Investment Partnership Program (HOME),
  • a $300 million increase for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG),
  • a $18 million increase for the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation (NeighborWorks America)
  • a $5 million increase for the Section 4 Capacity Building for Community Development and Affordable Housing,
  • and, a $1 million increase for the Self-Help Homeownership Opportunity Program (SHOP).

“The Tacoma Housing Authority (THA) very much appreciates Rep. Kilmer’s work on the House proposal for a HUD budget,” said Michael Mirra, Executive Director, Tacoma Housing Authority. “He knows THA and its work well. And he knows his community well. The House budget will strengthen THA’s efforts that not only house people but also help them and their children succeed. We are lucky to have such a Congressman and such a Congressional delegation.”

Increasing Access to Rural Broadband

The bill invests over $680 million in the expansion of broadband service to provide economic development opportunities and improved education and healthcare services. These significant investments in broadband reflect a commitment to enabling Americans in rural communities to access digital tools necessary to improve health, educational, and economic outcomes.

The bill also includes an effort by Rep. Kilmer to urge the U.S. Department of Agriculture to explore means to better utilize current programs to expand high-speed internet deployment in Indian country, and to work with tribal communities to better understand the unique infrastructure challenges they face and ensure that they are not held at a competitive disadvantage when competing for broadband resources.

“Mason PUD 3 is excited about the commitment of Representative Kilmer to find solutions for rural broadband expansion. He has reached across the aisle to work an issue that is important to the entire country, regardless of location and political persuasion,” said Joel Myer, Public Information & Government Relations Manager, Mason County PUD 3. “We are pleased that Representative Kilmer has regularly consulted with public and private entities that are working so hard to ensure our citizens have the tools to personally and professionally successful, wherever they live.”

A division-by-division summary of H.R. 3055 is available as a PDF here. Amendments to each division of the bill are available here.