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Rep. Eric Massa Votes To Strengthen Our Infrastructure, Serve Our Veterans, Create Jobs And Protect America

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Today Rep. Eric Massa voted for H.R. 3288, the FY 2010 Consolidated Appropriations Act. This bill will fund several governmental departments including Labor, Health and Education, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Transportation. This bill addresses several of the problems caused by the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. The bill passed by a vote of 221 - 202.

To help spur job creation, this bill takes several steps including:

* providing nearly $42 billion to improve our nation's aging highway system which means construction jobs;
* making a $1.4 billion investment in training and support services for workers that have faced mass layoffs during the recession;
* providing increased funding for several small business programs so they can help lead us out of this recession

"Creating jobs is my highest priority which is why I'm proud to have voted for this fiscally responsible bill designed to help get struggling Americans back to work," said Congressman Eric Massa. "By making meaningful investments in our infrastructure, job training and small business programs, we are working to improve our economy."

As the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq continue, it is important that Congress keeps its promise to our Nation's veterans - and this bill does just that. By making increased investments for mental health services, health care in rural areas, and assistance to homeless veterans, this bill supports the troops.

"As a veteran myself, I will never stop fighting for those that wore the uniform and defended our nation," said Congressman Eric Massa, a 24-year Navy retiree. "During this recession, we cannot short change our veterans and this is one of the most important reasons why I voted for this bill. Additionally, being from a rural district myself, I know how important it is to increase veterans' services in non-metropolitan areas and that's what we did today."

"Omnibus bills like this are always difficult to vote on because you can't vote no on the specific programs you don't like and yes on the ones you do - you just get to vote yes or no. Overall however, this bill makes important investments in our economy and earned my vote.

Below is an overview of some of the highlights of each of the six spending bills that are included in the conference report on H.R. 3288, FY 2010 Consolidated Appropriations.

Transportation-HUD Appropriations

Strengthening Our Economy by Investing in Transportation Infrastructure

To create jobs and spur economic growth, this bill improves and repairs our nation's aging highway system, invests in new commuter rail and light rail systems and the next generation of high speed passenger rail, and modernizes our air traffic control to make travel safer, easier and more efficient.

* Highway Infrastructure. Provides $41.8 billion to improve and repair our nation's aging highway infrastructure -- creating an estimated 1.5 million jobs. (Every $1 billion of federal investments in highways creates an estimated 34,800 jobs.)
* New Commuter Rail and Light Rail Systems. Provides $2 billion, $191 million or 10.6 percent above 2009, for Capital Investment Grants for new commuter rail or other light rail systems.
* High Speed/Intercity Passenger Rail. Provides $2.5 billion for grants to states or Amtrak for the development of high speed/intercity passenger rail to create a 21st Century passenger rail system that reduces congestion and environmental impacts.

Combating the Housing Crisis and Providing Housing Assistance for the Vulnerable

The legislation increases funding for vouchers and housing assistance for those most impacted by the recession and also invests in counseling to keep families who are at risk of foreclosure in their homes.

* Section 8 Tenant-Based Vouchers. Provides $18.2 billion, $1.2 billion above 2009, to support 2.1 million vouchers for individuals and families.
* Section 8 Project-Based Vouchers. Provides $8.5 billion, $1.4 billion above 2009, to provide affordable housing to 1.3 million low-income families and individuals, two-thirds of whom are elderly and disabled.
* Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation. Provides $233 million, $52 million above 2009, to provide counseling for families in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure.
* National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling. Provides $65 million to continue providing information and assistance to homeowners seeking to avoid foreclosure.
* Housing Counseling Assistance. Provides $87.5 million, $22.5 million above 2009, to continue pre-purchase counseling for prospective homebuyers and foreclosure prevention counseling.

Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations

Key Job Training and Placement Initiatives

Key investments in this bill will help put unemployed youth and adults to work in this economic downturn through intensive employment assistance and case management, investment in skills training for displaced workers, and new approaches to helping the disadvantaged obtain decent and good-paying jobs.

* Dislocated Workers. Provides $1.4 billion, $71 million above 2009, for training and supportive services to workers affected by mass layoffs and plant closures. More than 2.6 million workers lost their jobs through October of 2009 due to mass layoffs, the highest number since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began collecting such data in 1995.
* Career Pathways Innovation Fund. Provides $125 million for competitive grants to community colleges and partnership with local adult education providers to prepare workers for careers in high-demand and emerging industries.
* YouthBuild. Provides $103 million, $33 million above 2009, to expand YouthBuild so that nearly 7,000 at-risk youth can gain high school credentials and construction skills while building affordable housing for low-income families.

Strengthening the Economy By Improving Education

Economists tell us that strategic investments in education are one of the best ways to strengthen our economy and make America more productive and competitive. Also, in today's economy, a college degree matters more than ever before -- and making college more affordable is critical.

* Head Start. Provides $7.2 billion, $122 million above 2009, to sustain high-quality, comprehensive early childhood services, including educational, health, nutritional, and social services, for approximately 978,000 low-income children before they enter school, nearly 70,000 over the 2008 level.
* Title I Grants for Disadvantaged Children. Provides $14.5 billion for Title I grants to school districts to ensure that approximately 20 million disadvantaged children in nearly 55,000 public schools obtain the educational skills they need to compete in a global economy. These funds may also be used to support early childhood education activities.
* School Improvement. Provides $545 million for assistance to approximately 13,000 schools across the country with chronically poor academic performance.
* Teacher Incentive Fund. Provides $400 million, $303 million above 2009, for the Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF), which supports school districts and states that aim to reward effective teaching through compensation systems that reward entire high-need schools for raising student achievement.
* After School Centers. Provides $1.2 billion, $35 million above 2009, for tutoring, mentoring, and enrichment activities for approximately 1.6 million children, nearly 50,000 more students than in 2009. Research shows that when students have a place to go after school where they can study and be supervised by an adult, not only are they less likely to get into trouble, they also get a better education.
* Pell Grants. This bill maintains the discretionary portion of the maximum Pell Grant at $4,860, which, combined with a mandatory supplement of $690, will support a $5,550 maximum Pell Grant in FY 2010. Since Democrats took over Congress in January 2007, the maximum Pell Grant has been increased by $1,500 or 37 percent -- from $4,050 to $5,550. In FY 2010, more than 8 million college students will receive Pell Grants.

Health Care Access, Training Health Care Workforce, & Other Priorities

There is a health care crisis in America today. 46 million Americans are without health coverage and 16 million more are underinsured. This bill contains provisions to protect access -- until national health care reform is enacted. Also, to prepare for national health care reform, it is critical to build the capacity of the health care system -- with the training of more nurses and primary care doctors.

* Community Health Centers. Provides $2.2 billion to provide primary health care to 17 million patients, of whom 40 percent are uninsured, in 7,500 service delivery sites. These centers provide high quality care in both urban and rural underserved areas across the country.
* State Health Access Grants. Provides $75 million to provide a second year of grants for this program, designed to allow states to implement innovative healthcare solutions. States can use this funding to expand coverage for segments of the population and/or to test new ideas.
* Health Professions Workforce Shortages. Provides $498 million, $105 million above 2009, to support the training of health professionals in fields where there are shortages. For example, the bill increases funding for the training of nurses by $73 million above 2009. This increase is essential because the U.S. is in the midst of a nursing shortage that is expected to intensify as baby boomers age.
* National Institutes of Health. Provides $31 billion, $692 million above 2009, for NIH-funded biomedical research to improve health and reduce health care expenditures. NIH-funded research will help doctors move away from today's costly and predominantly curative model to a preventative model, allowing intervention before disease occurs.

Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations

Strengthening the Economy Through Innovation

A key to strengthening our economy is to invest in an Innovation Agenda -- investing in science, technology, and groundbreaking R&D.

* Science Overall. Provides $31.3 billion, an increase of $1.7 billion or 6 percent above 2009, for investments in science, technology, and innovation -- as part of an Innovation Agenda to keep America competitive in the global marketplace.
* Science Education. Provides $1.2 billion, $113 million or 10 percent above 2009, in an effort to combat the decline in U.S. student interest and performance in math and science fields. There is growing concern that the U.S. is not preparing a sufficient number of students, teachers, and practitioners in the areas of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The federal investment is intended to promote all aspects of STEM education from kindergarten through graduate school.
* National Science Foundation. Provides $6.9 billion, $436 million or 7 percent above 2009, for the most promising scientific research at America's colleges and universities, and for supporting scientists with cutting edge labs and equipment. This funding level continues to put the NSF budget on track to double over the next seven years, as called for under the America COMPETES Act (PL 110-69).
* National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Provides $856.6 million, $37.6 million above 2009, for NIST -- to promote U.S. innovation and industrial competitiveness by investing in scientific and technical research services. This funding level continues to put NIST on track to double over the next seven years. The funding includes:
o Manufacturing Extension Partnerships. $125 million to help small and mid-size manufacturers compete globally by providing them with technical advice and access to technology, as well as leveraging private funds to save and create jobs.
o Technology Innovation Program. $70 million to fund high-risk high-reward research into areas of critical national need done by U.S. businesses, colleges and universities, and national labs.
* National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Provides $18.7 billion, $942 million above 2009, for NASA -- recognizing that the science and research conducted at NASA is also critical to the nation's science enterprise.
* Global Climate Change Research. Provides $2 billion, $75 million above 2009, to allow NASA, NOAA, NSF, and other agencies to study and respond to global climate change, one of the greatest challenges facing our country.

Law Enforcement -- Retaining and Creating Jobs At A Time of State and Local Fiscal Crisis

At a time when the recession has created a fiscal crisis for state and local governments, requiring them to let go of key law enforcement and related personnel, the federal support for state and local law enforcement programs has never been more important.

* State and Local Law Enforcement Overall. Provides $3.71 billion, $480 million above 2009, for grants to aid local and state law enforcement and crime victims.
* COPS. Provides $792 million, $242 million above 2009, to support local law enforcement agencies with hiring, technology, training, body armor, and sex-offender enforcement management grants. This includes $298 million specifically for COPS Hiring Grants to hire or retain approximately 1,400 police officers.
* Byrne Justice Assistance Grants. Provides $519 million for the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) program. These grants are used by local law enforcement agencies for a broad range of activities to better fight and prevent crime.
* State Criminal Alien Assistance Program (SCAAP). Provides $330 million for this program, which assists state and local governments with the costs of jailing undocumented immigrants who have committed crimes not related to their immigration status.
* Adam Walsh Act and Child Exploitation. Provides $353.5 million, $63.6 million above 2009, for Adam Walsh Act activities, which includes sex offender registration requirements, and other sex offender and child exploitation prevention and enforcement programs.
* Violence Against Women Programs. Provides $418.5 million, $29.5 million above 2009, to prevent and prosecute violence against women and strengthen services to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations

Meeting the Needs of Our Veterans
* Overall Department of Veterans Affairs. Provides $109.6 billion, $15.3 billion above 2009, to honor our nation's commitment to our veterans. This funding total includes $53 billion in discretionary VA funding, which is $5.4 billion above 2009. This year's increase in discretionary VA funding is on top of the unprecedented increase of $17.7 billion provided over the last two years.
* Medical Services. Provides $45.1 billion, $4.1 billion above 2009, for veterans medical care. The Veterans Health Administration estimates that it will treat more than 6.1 million patients in 2010, including more than 419,000 veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan.
* Mental Health. Provides $4.6 billion, $300 million above 2009, for mental health care to treat the psychological wounds of returning combat veterans, including post-traumatic stress disorder. Includes an additional $1 million to provide education debt relief as a hiring incentive for mental health professionals.
* Assistance for Homeless Veterans. Provides $3.2 billion, $421 million above 2009, for health care and support services for homeless veterans.
* Rural Health. Provides $250 million to continue the Rural Health Initiative and an additional $30 million to increase the number of Community Based Outpatient Clinics (CBOCs) in rural areas for veterans who do not have ready access to VA hospitals. More than 3.2 million (41%) of enrolled veterans live in rural or highly rural areas.
* Working to Reduce Veterans Claims Backlog. Adds roughly 1,200 additional claims processors to continue to work down the backlog of benefits claims and to reduce the time to process new claims. Currently, nearly 397,000 veterans' claims are pending.
* Advance Appropriations for Veterans Medical Care. In a major victory for America's veterans, includes advance appropriations for the VA to ensure a stable and uninterrupted source of funding for medical care for veterans, providing $48.2 billion for FY 2011.

Meeting the Needs of Our Military Families
* Military Construction and Military Families. Provides $23.3 billion to support America's military forces and their families at home and overseas. Includes $350 million to accelerate the Army's program to modernize troop housing facilities for trainees and $2.6 billion to further eliminate inadequate military family housing.

Financial Services Appropriations

Strengthening Economy by Rebuilding Protections for Investors, Homeowners and Consumers

America is suffering from the deepest economic downturn since the Great Depression in part because of the financial meltdown resulting from the past drive for deregulation of our financial system. This bill is another step forward in cracking down on runaway financial excesses and rebuilding regulatory protections needed to stabilize and restore confidence in the American economy.

* Securities and Exchange Commission. Provides $1.111 billion, $151 million or 16 percent above 2009, to strengthen and enforce rules that govern investments and financial markets and to detect and prosecute fraudulent schemes. Funds will allow hiring another 420 investigators, lawyers and analysts to support SEC's mission.
* Federal Trade Commission. Provides $292 million, $33 million or 13 percent above 2009, to strengthen the FTC's capacity to protect consumers and combat anti-competitive behavior.
* Consumer Product Safety Commission. Provides $118 million, $13 million or 12 percent above 2009, for the CPSC. Funds will be used to continue implementing the landmark bipartisan consumer protection legislation enacted in 2008 in response to massive product recalls, including children's toys from China.

Expanding Access to Capital and Credit for America's Small Businesses
* Small Business Administration. Provides $824 million, $212 million or 35 percent above 2009. Small business is the engine for the American economy, creating 60 to 80 percent of new jobs, and crucial to getting the American economy back on track.
o Overall Lending. Supports $28 billion in new lending for the nation's 25 million small businesses -- critically important for firms having trouble borrowing funds in the current tight credit market.
o Microlending. Supports $25 million in new microlending and $22 million in related microloan technical assistance.
o Small Business Development Centers. Provides $113 million for these centers, which provide counseling, training, and technical assistance to small businesses.
o PRIME. Provides $8 million, $3 million above 2009, for technical assistance to low-income small business owners.

Expanding Access to Capital and Credit for Disadvantaged Communities
* Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund. More than doubles funding to $247 million to help supply credit to disadvantaged communities; each dollar invested in the CDFI Fund leverages at least 15 dollars, on average, in non-Federal investment. The appropriation includes $80 million to launch the Capital Magnet Fund, a competitive grant program for development and renovation of low-income housing.

State-Foreign Operations Appropriations

Rebuilding Our Diplomatic and Development Capacity
* Providing the Necessary Resources for Our Diplomatic and Development Activities. It is apparent that our nation's first line of defense, our diplomatic and development agencies, need additional resources to be able to meet the 21st century challenges facing our nation.
* Strengthening Diplomatic Capacity. To build our diplomatic capacity, provides $8.2 billion, $1.2 billion above 2009, for diplomatic operations at the State Department and to hire more than 700 new Foreign Service personnel.
* Strengthening Development Capacity. Provides $1.39 billion, $330 million above 2009, to strengthen development capacity at USAID (Agency for International Development) and to hire 300 additional Foreign Service Officers as part of the Development Leadership Initiative, which seeks to enhance USAID's leadership, technical and managerial capacity.

Addressing Global HIV/AIDS and Other Global Challenges
* Global Health. Provides $7.78 billion for global health priorities, including strengthening the global public health infrastructure and surveillance network in order to save lives overseas and to protect the health of Americans from infectious diseases, as follows:
o Global HIV/AIDS. Provides $5.7 billion for total funding for Global HIV/AIDS programs, which is $200 million above 2009. This includes $750 million for multilateral programs through the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.
o USAID Global Health and Child Survival Programs. Provides a total of $2.42 billion, which is an increase of $440 million above 2009.
* Basic and Higher Education. Provides $925 million for basic education, $225 million above 2009, to increase access to quality education and literacy programs and to provide alternatives to fundamentalist education. Also provides $200 million for higher education including for higher education partnerships.
* International Family Planning. Provides $648.5 million, $103 million above 2009, for international family planning services for the poorest women and children in the developing world.
* Agriculture and Food Security Programs. Provides $1.17 billion, $698 million above 2009, to provide agricultural assistance and improve food security. More than one billion people suffer from chronic hunger.

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