Government Funding Bill Includes Key Texas Priorities


In: All News   Posted 05/04/2017
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Legislation Will Provide Funding for Border Security, Coastal Protection Study, NASA, Active Shooter Training, & Disaster Relief

WASHINGTON –U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) supported the passage of the Omnibus Appropriations bill which funds the federal government through the end of the 2017 fiscal year and includes many priorities important to Texas:

Disaster Relief

The Omnibus Appropriations bill of 2017 provides an additional $948 million in disaster relief. Of this amount, $400 million is for Community Development Block Grant disaster recovery assistance for disasters occurring in 2016 or later.

Coastal Texas Protection Study

The Omnibus Appropriations bill of 2017 increases funds to the Army Corps by $49 million and fully funds the Coastal Texas Protection and Restoration Study, which must be completed before the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can construct a coastal protection project along our state’s Gulf coast.

NASA
The Omnibus Appropriations bill of 2017 provides NASA with $19.65 billion, $4.3 billion of which will go towards exploration.  Two of NASA’s exploration programs, the Space Launch System (SLS) and the Orion crew vehicle, are largely led by Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX.  Additionally, Senator Cornyn secured language in the legislation to develop a plan for testing and deploying a next generation space suit to meet the needs of our astronaut corps during future long-duration missions. 

Border Security

The Omnibus Appropriations bill of 2017 has the largest funding increase, $1.51 billion, for border security in nearly a decade. These funds will allow the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to hire more border patrol agents and customs officers, make infrastructure improvements at our ports of entry and border checkpoints, and hire more judges for the immigration courts that process immigration cases. It will also replace approximately 40 miles of existing pedestrian fencing and finance new border road construction.  Finally, the legislation gives state grant recipients, like Texas, the option to reimburse local governments from their allocated DHS funds to cover the costs for providing humanitarian relief to unaccompanied minors and adults with minors that were incurred between January 1, 2014 and December 31, 2014. 

Department of Justice

The Omnibus Appropriations bill of 2017 funds critical programs in the state of Texas that keep our communities safe, protect victims of crimes, and enable our local law enforcement agencies to better serve Texans through additional resources and support. 

  • Fighting the Backlog of Untested Rape Kits- The legislation provides $125 million for the Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Reduction Act, which dedicates much-needed resources to state and local law enforcement agencies to conduct forensic analyses of backlogged crime scenes, including untested rape kits. In the 113th Congress, Senator Cornyn was the sponsor of legislation to reauthorize the Debbie Smith Act for five years and introduced legislation requiring at least 75 percent of Debbie Smith Act funds be spent directly on either analyzing untested DNA evidence or increasing the capacity of labs.
     
  • Active Shooter Training for First Responders- The legislation allocates $7.5 million for implementation of the POLICE Act, a bill introduced by Senator Cornyn after working closely with Texas police and sheriffs’ departments and became law in the 115th Congress. The POLICE Act provides active shooter training for first responders and law enforcement officers at facilities like the ALERRT Center at Texas State University in San Marcos, TX.
     
  • Protecting the Victims of Human Trafficking- The legislation provides $45 million for human trafficking victims’ services and additional law enforcement resources to fight modern-day slavery. Because of its proximity to the international border, multiple large metropolitan areas, and transportation infrastructure, Texas is one of the nation’s hubs for this horrible crime. Senator Cornyn sponsored the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, which was signed into law in 2015 and strengthened our nation’s response to domestic human trafficking.

Defense

The Omnibus Appropriations of 2017 increases Defense funding by over $25 billion above fiscal year 2016, and contains $15 billion in new funding requested by the Trump Administration.  The legislation provides the largest military pay raise in six years.  Specifically for Texas, the legislation includes funding for:

  • Depot Maintenance and Readiness - Includes an additional $7.3 billion above the previous Administration's request to fill readiness shortfalls, invest in facility sustainment, restoration, and modernization programs, provide for additional depot maintenance, and support increased end strength at facilities like Red River Army Depot, in Texarkana.
     
  • Joint Strike Fighter - Funds 74 F-35 Aircraft for fiscal year 2018, which are based at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth.