Cantwell Secures Funding for Major Washington State Priorities in Omnibus Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) secured a number of major Washington state priorities in Congress’s omnibus funding package. The omnibus funding bill passed the House of Representatives earlier today, with Senate passage expected later today or tomorrow.

Among other Washington state priorities, the bill includes increased funding for opioid and mental health treatment, critical funding for federal infrastructure investment, money for protecting the 2018 midterm elections from Russian hackers, investments in rural broadband, and funds for important environmental and economic programs throughout Washington state.

Provides major increase in wildfire fighting funding

As the ranking Democrat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Senator Cantwell helped establish a contingency account for fighting wildfires in bad years, and helped secure over $2 billion in yearly funding for the account for the next 10 years. The funding will allow the Forest Service to end its practice of borrowing funds to fight wildfires from much-needed prevention work, freeing up over $100 million for fire prevention projects and recreation programs. For years, Senator Cantwell has pushed for a permanent fix for wildfire fighting funding. As part of those efforts, she led a bipartisan group of her colleagues to introduce a bill to authorize permanent funding in 2017. Senator Cantwell has also prioritized firefighter safety, introducing a bill in January to modernize firefighting technology to better protect firefighters and the communities they serve.


Provides major increase in opioid and mental health funding

Senator Cantwell helped secure $3.3 billion in increased funding to combat the opioid and mental health epidemics, which will be directed to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), the Department of Justice, the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The funds include $256 million from Senator Cantwell’s CARA 2.0 legislation, which she introduced in February with a bipartisan group of colleagues. The funding provides critical investments in medication-assisted treatment (MAT), naloxone for first responders, and funds for additional recovery services. Combating the opioid epidemic is a priority issue for Senator Cantwell. In February, she introduced a bill with Senator Harris to hold opioid manufacturers accountable for negligent distribution and misleading advertising. Cantwell has also worked with her colleagues to push for additional resources to combat the opioid epidemic in Indian Country, which has been especially hard hit by the crisis.


Provides 2 years of funding for Secure Rural Schools

Cantwell, the top Democrat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, secured two years of funding for the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) program, which supports public schools, public roads, forest health projects, emergency services, and many other essential county services for more than 775 counties across the country. These funds are especially vital to Washington state; in 2017, without SRS authorized, Washington counties received just $2.3 million from the Forest Service, down from more than $17.3 million for Washington communities in 2016, the last year the program was authorized. Cantwell has long supported the program, voting for an amendment to reauthorize it in 2012 and joining a bipartisan group of her colleagues to support its extension in 2017.


Bolsters federal cybersecurity efforts to block Russian hacking

Cantwell helped to secure $380 million in funding for election security grants to help states protect their election systems. This vital funding will ensure those on the front lines of combating election interference – state and local election officials – have the resources to upgrade election technology, improve cybersecurity training, and help prevent future cyberattacks. This funding will be made available immediately to states so that they can begin to implement security improvements ahead of the 2018 and 2020 elections.  The election security funds come amidst reports that Washington state’s voting system was one of the 21 targeted by Russia during the 2016 elections, and after Cantwell urged leaders of the Senate Appropriations Committee to provide additional funding to safeguard the 2018 midterm elections. Cybersecurity has long been a priority for Cantwell; she has frequently called to defend American energy infrastructure against cyberattacks.


Increases funding for airport improvement program

As the top Democrat on the Senate Aviation Subcommittee, Cantwell helped secure a $1 billion increase in the Airport Improvement Grant program, which has helped pay for infrastructure like the Methow Valley State Airport’s runway and the major runway realignment project at Pullman-Moscow Regional Airport. Cantwell has made airport infrastructure and air travel high priorities. Since 2014, Cantwell has helped airports across Washington state secure more than $41,240,000 in funding for airport improvements and increased air travel. The impact of air service on the economy cannot be overstated. In Washington state, 97% of Gross Business Income is generated by businesses within 10 miles of an airport, and 70% by businesses within a short five miles of an airport.


Increases funding for freight and transportation infrastructure

Senator Cantwell, a senior member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, helped secure a significant increase in investment in transportation and freight infrastructure. The deal includes $1.5 billion for the National Infrastructure Investments program (TIGER), a $1 billion increase over last year. It also includes funding for the Federal Transit Administration’s Capital Investment Grant (CIG) program, which has funded projects like Sound Transit’s Link Light Rail and its extensions to Lynnwood, Federal Way, and the eastside. Both programs provide crucial federal funding for transit, road, rail, and maritime infrastructure projects. Cantwell has long championed programs to invest in American infrastructure. She has also helped secure federal grants to fund a number of infrastructure projects in Washington state, including $45 million for the Seattle Lander Street Project, more than $9 million to fix the Barker Road Railway intersection in the Spokane Valley, and $10 million to update the Mukileto Ferry Terminal.


Boosts rural broadband development

As a senior Democrat on the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, Senator Cantwell helped secure $600 million in funding to boost broadband development. She has long pushed for more robust, efficient, and cost effective broadband connectivity for rural communities.  Just last year, Cantwell worked with the Makah Tribe and CenturyLink to bring broadband access to Neah Bay, one of the most remote parts of Washington state.


Saves Land and Water Conservation Fund and increased funding

As the top Democrat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Cantwell fought back against the Trump Administration’s proposal to eliminate the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), the country’s most successful conservation program, and secured a $25 million increase in funding over last year’s levels. The funding also includes specific allocations for Washington state projects, including $1 million for Lake Chelan Natural Recreation Area, $5 million for Okanagan National Forest, $6.3 million for the Forest Legacy program in South Puget Sound, and $2 million for the Dewatto Headwaters. Cantwell has long promoted the program, touting its importance for conservation and its positive economic affects for Washington state. In March of 2017, she introduced a bill to permanently authorize and fully fund the LWFC, and she has steadfastly defended the program in the face of attacks.


Protects EPA from 30% cut

Cantwell fought back against the Trump Administration’s proposed 30% cut to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) budget, which would have eliminated Puget Sound cleanup efforts, Superfund cleanup efforts, and programs to combat climate change, among other important environmental safeguards. Instead, Cantwell helped secure $8.058 billion in funding for the EPA, consistent with previous years, including $28 million for Puget Sound cleanup. Since President Trump took office, Senator Cantwell has been fighting his efforts to dismantle environmental protections and has pushed back on the proposed cuts to the EPA, highlighting the importance of the affected programs.  


Prioritizes Hanford Funding

Senator Cantwell helped secure $2.422 billion for Hanford cleanup, including additional funds for PUREX Tunnels and PFP completion. In her role as the top Democrat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Senator Cantwell has long prioritized Hanford cleanup. In 2017, Cantwell led her colleagues in the Washington congressional delegation to call on President Trump to prioritize funding for Hanford cleanup and worker health and safety. And last week, Cantwell pressed Energy Secretary Rick Perry on proposed budget cuts to Hanford, urging him to instead increase funding and reprioritize Hanford cleanup.


Accelerates new icebreaker

In her role as a senior Democrat on the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, Senator Cantwell helped secure $150 million for a new heavy polar icebreaker, as well as $19 million to help with the acquisition of a new fleet of polar icebreakers. Cantwell has long been a leading advocate of Coast Guard and Arctic issues in the Senate. She has repeatedly pushed for funding for a new fleet of polar icebreakers, calling on the Obama Administration to do so in 2015 and pressing the Coast Guard Commandant on his plans to fund new icebreakers during a Commerce Subcommittee hearing in 2017.


Increases medical research funding

Senator Cantwell worked with her colleagues to secure a $3 billion increase in overall funding to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), including increased funding for Alzheimer’s disease research, President Obama’s BRAIN Initiative, and research to combat antimicrobial resistance. Washington state is a global leader in life sciences and medical research and innovation.  In fiscal year 2017, Washington state research organizations received $998.2 million in NIH grants, supporting 14,051 jobs and $2.4 billion in state economic activity.  As a member of the Senate NIH Caucus, Senator Cantwell has continually championed strong funding for the NIH.


Closes loopholes in federal firearms background checks

Cantwell and her colleagues secured the inclusion of legislation to help address the scourge of gun violence in the United States. The Fix NICS Act of 2017 ensures that federal and state agencies accurately report relevant criminal history records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) – used for firearm purchases – by penalizing agencies that fail to properly report these records. By incentivizing the reporting of accurate information to NICS, law enforcement and government agencies will be able to more effectively enforce existing laws to keep firearms out of the hands of dangerous individuals.


Remedies retirement pay gap for Coast Guard members

As an active and effective champion for policies to improve quality of life for Coast Guard service members and their families, Senator Cantwell helped secure a permanent solution to address an inadvertent $75 million gap in Coast Guard funding created by the modernization of the retirement system for the U.S. Armed Forces. In her role as a senior member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, she has repeatedly advocated and supported legislation to expand Coast Guard member benefits, including healthcare at remote duty stations, combat-related special compensation, and paid family leave.