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Congressman Palazzo Votes for Eight Funding Bills, Highlighting Benefits for Mississippians Included in First Appropriations Package

Washington, DC - Congressman Steven Palazzo (MS-4) today applauded the passage of an appropriations minibus for the 2020 fiscal year that funds key priorities relevant to Mississippi. The package will provide major funding opportunities for Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education; Agriculture, Rural Development and Food and Drug Administration; Energy and Water Development; Interior and Environment; Legislative Branch; Military Construction and Veterans Affairs; State and Foreign Operations; and Transportation and Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bills.  

“Today’s bill supports programs and research initiatives that are beneficial to Mississippians, our veterans and our farmers. I was particularly pleased to see robust funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs, veterans medical care, and the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Gulfport.

“I also welcome the inclusion of funding dedicated to addressing issues for mold found in military family housing, which has been a leading concern for our military men and women at Keesler. I remain focused on working with officials at Keesler to ensure our military families live in safe and healthy homes.

“This year, the Bonnet Carré Spillway left the Mississippi Sound devastated. As we continue our recovery efforts, I believe my directive included for the Corps of Engineers to work with a NOAA fisheries expert on decisions made by the Mississippi River Commission will give south Mississippi a stronger voice at the table when future decisions on spillway activities are made.”

“As a staunch advocate for the Jones Act, I was pleased to see the inclusion of $300 million for the National Security Multi-Mission Vessel program which will support increased training opportunities for American mariners to maintain a sustainable domestic maritime industry.”

Below is a list of priorities secured by Congressman Palazzo:

Labor, Health, and Human Services, and Education

Includes $6 million in funding for the Telehealth Centers of Excellence program. This continued funding for the National Center of Excellence in Telehealth supports the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s Telehealth program, one of only two in the nation.

Provides $3.5 million for the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Children’s Health and Development effort. Mississippi's children are faced with significant health challenges that substantially affect the overall health and economics of the state.  

Includes $1.5 million to contract with and fund a National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine study to examine and recommend improvements to research, policies, and activities related to organ donation and transplantation.

Includes continued funding for current pilot programs of HHS’s Regional Disaster Health Response System. 

Continues America’s global leadership in basic science research and advances biomedical research by providing $41.7 billion for the National Institute of Health.

Maintains all prior-year, pro-life funding restrictions, including a prohibition of federal funds being used to pay for abortions except in cases of rape, incest or life endangerment of the mother; Prohibits the creation or destruction of embryos for research purposes; and Maintains rape reporting requirements in the Title X Family Planning Program.

Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies

Includes $2 million for cogongrass eradication at the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. Cogongrass is most concentrated in south Mississippi, so landowners there are more likely to have the weed migrate onto their property.

Provides $19.6 million for the Circuit Rider Program which provides on-site technical assistance to water systems in rural communities.

Includes $50 million for the Distance Learning and Telemedicine Grant Program within the Rural Utilities Service, an increase of $16 million.

Provides $642 million for rural broadband, including $555 million for a broadband pilot program called ReConnect designed to provide certain flexibilities to unserved and underserved areas; $35 million in Community Connect grants; $50 million for Distance, Learning and Telemedicine grants; and $11 million in the Broadband Loan Program.

Includes an additional $3 million for Agriculture Research Service High Performance Computing which will directly benefit Mississippi's existing high performance computing network.

Allocates $6.25 billion for Rural Utilities Service Electric Loan Program which provides financing for electric cooperatives who serve lower density rural areas.

Provides $1 billion for the United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development 502 Direct Home Loan Program which provides home loan assistance to low-income rural families.

Allocates $6.5 million for Grassroots Source Water Protection Program that helps communities develop locally driven plans to protect ground and surface water. This program assists those communities in implementing a protection plan that helps reduce the need for continuous updates to treatment facilities. 

Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies

Includes language regarding Corps of Engineers spillways and the need to consult a NOAA fisheries expert on decisions made by the Mississippi River Commission. The Mississippi River Commission ultimately decides on the opening of the Bonnet Carre Spillway.

Allocates funding and includes report language regarding Corps of Engineers work related to sustainable oyster reefs.

Provides $10.9 million for the Corps of Engineers Coastal Inlet Research Program, supporting the work of the University of Southern Mississippi. These strategic partnerships are necessary to develop a comprehensive research program for determining optimal practices for oyster restoration at scales appropriate for regional needs.

Provided an estimated $1.63 billion for Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund-reimbursable activities. The HMTF receives revenue from taxes on waterborne cargo and on cruise ship passengers.

Includes report language regarding Corps of Engineers investigations to protect critical national defense capabilities. Flood and coastal storm damage reduction investigations are necessary to protect critical national defense capabilities that are also major regional economic hubs, like at the Port of Pascagoula.

Allocates $100 million for Corps of Engineers environmental infrastructure projects for critically needed water and wastewater infrastructure improvements.

Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies

Includes $1.6 billion for EPA’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund.

Provides $20.8 million in funding as well as support language for National Heritage areas. Mississippi is home to three national heritage areas: Mississippi Gulf Coast National Heritage Area, Mississippi Delta National Heritage Area, and the Mississippi Hills National Heritage Area.

Legislative Branch

Provides for unspent dollars in the Members’ Representational Allowance accounts to be put toward federal debt reduction, saving taxpayers money.

Continues the pay freeze for members of Congress.

Military Construction and Veterans Affairs

Includes a total of $216.5 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs, an increase of $19.4 billion above the fiscal year 2019 level.

Funds VA medical care at $80.2 billion – providing for approximately seven million patients to be treated in fiscal year 2020. 

Provides an additional $140.8 million to address military family housing issues such as mold, vermin, and lead in military family housing. This funding will ensure quality housing for all 2,006,171 military families currently served by the program.

Provides a total of $11.3 billion for military construction projects including $8.1 million for an Automated Machine Gun Range to be built at Camp Shelby.

Includes $75.3 million dollars, $11 million over the fiscal year 2020 budget request, for the Armed Forces Retirement homes in Gulfport, Mississippi and Washington, DC.

Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies

Provides $1 billion for DOT’s Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grants. This year, Mississippi was awarded highly competitive BUILD grants for the City of Starkville and the City of Gulfport. The $20.46 million grant to the City of Gulfport will support the addition of a new roadway to connect Daniel Boulevard to existing commercial centers along Interstate 10, U.S. Highway 49, and Airport Road.

Includes language that prohibits funds from being used to enforce the electronic logging device rule with respect to carriers transporting livestock or insects, providing much-needed regulatory relief to farmers in Mississippi.

Provides $95 million for the Department of Transportation Small Transit Intensive Cities Program, which has helped cities in Mississippi such as Hattiesburg and Pascagoula.

Allocates $5 million for the DOT’s Federal Transit Administration technical assistance and training program.

Provides $300 million for the DOT’s National Security Multi-Mission Vessel (NSMV) program. The NSMV will help sustain U.S. maritime training operations at the State Maritime Academies by equipping young American mariners with a modern and adaptable training program. The NSMV will also be available to support federal government efforts in response to national and international disasters, such as hurricanes and earthquakes.