Cantwell Secures Funding for Washington State Priorities in Spending Bills

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) secured a number of important Washington state priorities in Congress’s spending bills to fund the government for Fiscal Year 2020. The measures passed the Senate yesterday and now move on to the president’s desk to be signed into law.

Among other Washington state priorities, the bills include the reauthorization of the U.S. Export-Import Bank and increased funding for wildfire fighting and prevention, critical transportation and infrastructure investment programs, and important environmental and economic programs throughout Washington state.

Provides major funding increase to fight wildfires

Cantwell, a senior member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, worked with her colleagues to secure a $1.6 billion increase in funding for wildland fire management. The total funding provided is $5.553 billion, which includes $445 million for the hazardous fuels program. The funding package also includes $305 million for forest and rangeland research conducted by the U.S. Forest Service. Cantwell has been a leader in the Senate on wildfire fighting and prevention funding. Earlier this year, she called on the administration to reverse proposed cuts to wildfire funding, and in 2018 she secured passage of language to fix the chronic failures in wildfire funding that have plagued fire-prone communities across the West.  

Reauthorizes the United States Export-Import Bank

Working with colleagues on both sides of the aisle, Senator Cantwell helped secure a seven-year reauthorization of the United States Export-Import Bank (Ex-Im), as well as a fix to quorum issues that have plagued the Bank in recent years. According to the Washington Council on International Trade, Ex-Im supported 25,200 export jobs in Washington state between 2014 and 2018. In November 2019 alone, Ex-Im financed more than $2.5 million in exports from Washington state businesses. Cantwell has been a champion of Ex-Im and the small businesses it supports throughout her time in Congress. Earlier this year, Cantwell cosponsored the Export-Import Bank Reauthorization Act of 2019 (S. 2293) to reauthorize the bank for 10 years and fix the quorum issues. When Ex-Im lapsed in June 2015, she worked with a bipartisan group of colleagues to reauthorize the bank for four years. An interactive map of companies throughout Washington state that have used Ex-Im is available HERE.

Protects Hanford funding

Senator Cantwell helped secure $912 million for the Richland Operations Office and $1.616 billion for the Office of River Protection. Those funding levels represent increases of $47 million and $43 million over the previous year, respectively, and increases of $283 million and $224 million over the president’s budget request. Cantwell has long championed the Hanford clean-up and defended its budget against cuts. Last year, she led the successful effort to defeat proposed drastic cuts to the Hanford budget and earlier this year, she secured commitments on Hanford clean-up from President Trump’s nominee for Energy Secretary.

Provides major increase for transportation and infrastructure investment

As the Ranking Member of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, Cantwell worked with her colleagues to secure a $100 million increase in funding for the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) infrastructure grant program, which will receive $1 billion. It also includes a $70 million increase for the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) grant program, for a total of $325 million. Additionally, the measures provide $15 million in funding for the Center of Excellence for Alternative Jet Fuels and Environment, which Cantwell created in 2012.

The spending bills also provide $50 million in federal funding for the Defense Community Infrastructure Program (DCIP), which provides competitive funding to local governments to construct infrastructure that serves military facilities but is located outside of the base boundary.

Increases funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund

Cantwell helped secure $495 million in funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), the highest discretionary funding level for the program since 2004. This funding represents a $57 million increase above last year. Cantwell has been the leading champion for the LWCF. Earlier this year, her legislation to permanently reauthorize the fund was signed into law. She has also introduced legislation to permanently fund the LWCF at its authorized level; that legislation passed through committee with bipartisan support in November.

Increases funding for affordable housing

Senator Cantwell worked with her colleagues to secure increases in federal funding for affordable housing. That includes a five percent increase in the overall Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) budget, to $56.5 billion, and an eight percent increase in funding for the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, the only HUD program dedicated solely to affordable housing production and preservation, to $1.35 billion dollars. The legislation also includes funding increases for Section 8 Tenant-Based Rental Assistance, Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance, and McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Grants. Affordable housing has long been a priority for Cantwell. In 2018, she successfully secured a nearly $3 billion down payment to increase the Affordable Housing Tax Credit and take steps toward addressing the affordable housing crisis, helping to build over 28,000 units and support an additional 32,000 jobs. She has also introduced bipartisan legislation to expand the Affordable Housing Tax Credit – also known as the Low Income Housing Tax Credit – that would create more than 550,000 new units than would otherwise be built and to establish a task force on the affordable housing crisis.

Invests in Washington state’s maritime economy

Cantwell helped secure $35.5 million for implementation of the 2018 Pacific Salmon Treaty, a $20 million increase from previous funding levels. She also helped maintain the tsunami warning program at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which the Trump administration had sought to eliminate, and secured $174 million for NOAA to do fisheries stock assessments, a $5.6 million increase in funding.

These investments are in addition to maritime investments Cantwell secured in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed by Congress earlier this week. The NDAA included provisions authored by Cantwell to authorize $500 million for the Port and Intermodal Improvement Program, a competitive grant program that funds projects to improve the safety, efficiency, or reliability of the movement of goods through a port or the intermodal connection to a port. It also includes a $40 million authorization – a 14% increase – for the Small Shipyard Grant Program, which provided a $1.3 million grant to a shipyard in Freeland, WA, in 2018.

Extends tax deductions for high medical expenses

Senator Cantwell worked with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) to extend the Medical Expense Deduction, which helps more than 200,000 Washingtonians lower their health care costs. The deduction allows households that spend more than 7.5 percent of their income on medical expenses to deduct those costs from their tax bill, a vital provision for those who have pre-existing medical conditions, suffer chronic medical conditions, experience unexpected illnesses or injuries, or face costs for long-term care services that are not covered by insurance. According to AARP, nearly half of those who rely on the deduction every year make $50,000 or less.

Extends important tax provisions for Washington state’s economy

Cantwell was one of the key negotiators of a bipartisan package to extend critical tax provisions for Washington state’s economy and renewable energy development. The legislation increases the funding for the New Markets Tax Credit, which has invested $2.4 billion in projects in economically-underserved areas throughout the state since 2003, from $3.5 to $5 billion; extends a tax credit that benefits small craft beer brewers, cider makers, vintners, and distillers; and extends credits to boost renewable energy development, including at a biodiesel plant in Grays Harbor and a planned facility in Cherry Point.

Funds energy innovation

Senator Cantwell helped secure $190 million for the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Electricity, $2.85 billion for DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), $7 billion for DOE’s Science Programs, and $95 million for the Cybersecurity for Energy Delivery Systems program. These funding levels represent an increase of $34 million, $469 million, $415 million, and $5.5 million, respectively, over last year allocations, and billions more than the White House had requested. These dollars fund R&D at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Washington state universities that are vital to accelerating our nation’s urgently needed transition to a cleaner, more diverse, and more secure energy system.

Increases medical research funding

Senator Cantwell worked with her colleagues to secure a $2.6 billion increase in funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which supports innovative research essential in finding better treatments and new cures for disease. The total NIH funding included in the spending package is $41.7 billion, a more than 6 percent increase above last year’s funding level and a reversal of the budget cuts proposed by the Trump Administration. Senator Cantwell is a member of the Senate NIH Caucus and joined her colleagues in requesting that the Senate Appropriations Committee provide strong funding to NIH in fiscal year 2020. NIH grants support Washington state research institutions such as the University of Washington, Washington State University, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle Children’s Hospital, and many others. In total, Washington state research institutions received more than $1 billion in NIH grants in fiscal year 2018.

Provides major increase in law enforcement funding

Cantwell helped secure $547.2 million in funding for the Byrne JAG program, an increase of $123.7 million above last year. She has been a leading advocate for the program, which helps state and local governments across the country reduce crime, prevent juvenile delinquency, and reduce recidivism.

Boosts small business programs

Cantwell, a senior member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, helped secure a 40 percent increase in funding for the Small Business Administration (SBA). That includes a 21 percent increase in funding for Women’s Business Centers, a program Cantwell has championed. It also includes an 11 percent increase in funding for the SBA’s Microloan Technical Assistance Program and a $1 million increase in the State Trade Expansion Program. Senator Cantwell has long supported small businesses and efforts to promote women-owned businesses. In 2014, she introduced the Women’s Small Business Ownership Act of 2014, to increase funding for loans for women-owned businesses, increase funding for WBCs, and promote women-owned businesses in the federal contracting process. She also released a report on female entrepreneurship in Washington state. In 2015, Cantwell introduced a bill to reauthorize the WBC program and increase its funding.