U.S. Senator Mark Pryor and Congressman Mike Ross (AR-4) announced today that the Senate has passed a spending package which provides resources for water infrastructure, disaster assistance, homeland security as well as defense and military construction needs.
"As a member of the Appropriations Committee I have sought ways to help build on our state's strengths, such as investing in infrastructure, protecting our veterans and men and women in uniform, and helping our communities recover from severe storms," Pryor said. "Despite significant budget cuts this year, this package maintains critical investments to Arkansas and the nation."
"This budget cuts spending overall, while respecting priorities like Pell grants and soldiers' pay," said Ross. "The bill also cuts Congress' own budget ensuring Congress makes the same sacrifices as the rest of the nation. As a fiscal conservative, I will keep doing everything I can to reduce our deficits and create more jobs for more Americans."
Pryor is a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which allows him the opportunity to shape the legislation both during the committee process and on the Senate floor. Specific earmarks are no longer allowed; however, Arkansas will fare well from several provisions in the legislation or accompanying report language, including the following highlights:
Funding is included for missile defense systems that support work at Aerojet and Lockheed Martin in Camden. Without funding for these programs, Camden could lose a significant number of jobs.
Funding is included in the area of Silicon Carbide research and more broadly through the Rapid Innovation Fund to provide opportunities for Arkansas companies to compete for Defense research and development dollars.
Energy and Water:
The Delta Regional Authority is funded at $11.67 million. The Senate originally reduced funding to $9.9 million, but Pryor was able to recover the funding.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Mississippi River and Tributaries Account is funded at $252 million.
Funding for Norfork and Greers Ferry mitigation fish hatcheries is protected in the agreement.
The Maumelle Water Excellence Project is slated to receive funding to protect Central Arkansas's drinking water; provide public access to hiking, fishing, and hunting; protect endangered species habitats; implement Arkansas's Wildlife Action Plan; and provide conservation education.
A competitive grant program will provide rural and urban communities with technical assistance to improve water quality and to provide safe drinking water.
Military Construction Highlights:
Fort Chaffee will receive $3.5 million to construct a Convoy Live Fire and Entry Control Point Range. The project will be used to train and test teams, sections, squads, and companies on the skills necessary for convoy protection.
The agreement provides $44 million for the Red River Army Depot to modernize its current facility for tactile vehicle disassembly and assembly work.
Homeland Security Highlights:
Disaster Assistance Recoupment: Allows FEMA to waive debt owed to the U.S. in which disaster assistance funds were distributed in FEMA error in situations where recoupment would be against "equity and good conscience."
The agreement provides $2 million for the Emergency Management Assistance Compact, which allows states to receive or provide trained first responders and other assistance to neighboring states during tornadoes, flooding, or other disasters.
The Disaster Relief Fund is funded at $700 million nationwide. A separate supplemental spending bill is expected to provide an additional $6.4 billion nationwide to aid recovery efforts from storms this spring.