House Appropriations Bill Provisions to Help Hardworking Texas Families
by Bill Flores on August 11, 2020 at 6:20 AM
Last week, the House passed H.R. 7617, the second package of FY2021 funding legislation, completing work on ten of the twelve annual appropriations bills for the fiscal year beginning October 1st. I was disappointed that Speaker Pelosi and the House Democrats continued their partisan ways by loading this bill with poison pills that jeopardize our nation’s safety and security while violating last year’s bipartisan spending agreement by hundreds of billions of dollars.
On the other hand, this legislation does include several important provisions I have worked hard to include to benefit Central Texas and hardworking Texas families throughout the state. Some of these provisions include:
Policy changes to ensure that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) increases its assistance to our rural water systems.Some of the counties in our Congressional District have rural water systems that face significant financial and regulatory challenges due to naturally occurring arsenic. This issue became problematic in 2001 when the EPA adopted a new 10 parts per billion (ppb) standard, replacing the old 50 ppb standard for water arsenic levels. When that revised standard took effect, many water systems were instantly out of compliance EPA guidelines through no fault of their own. H.R. 7617 included changes I requested that will direct the EPA to help these water systems with the financial resources to address the new standards. In particular, this provision will help the rural water systems in eastern McClennan County to maintain a safe drinking water supply at a reasonable cost to consumers.
Funding for national security needs and maritime defense readiness in our Region.
One of the key requirements to maintain our national security is a vibrant merchant marine capability, including highly trained personnel. One of the key resources need to equip these specialized personnel is merchant marine training in our nation’s universities, including the United States Merchant Marine Academy and six State Maritime Academies. These six academies, including The Texas A&M University at Galveston (TAMUG) maritime academy, receive funding and training vessels from the federal government while operating as colleges within state universities. Recent studies indicated that the training vessels at these academies were antiquated, placing our maritime students and national security at risk.In response to these deficiencies, over the past three years, Congress has begun funding the acquisition of new training vessels. In this regard, I worked with my Texas colleagues and House committee leaders to include $389 million in the Transportation Housing and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations provisions for the Maritime Administration National Security Multi-Mission Vessel Program. This funding will help TAMUG secure a new training vessel so that it can fulfill its essential responsibility to meet national security needs and maintain maritime defense readiness. The new ship will allow TAMUG cadets to have access to the best training facilities in the country and provide the only modern, full-time training ship based in the Gulf of Mexico.
$562 million for the Biomedical Advanced Research Development Authority (BARDA).
Since its founding in 2006, BARDA has played a critical role for the federal government, by procuring and developing vaccines to protect Americans against a range of biological threats. While BARDA focuses on biological threats and pandemic response, our current global Coronavirus pandemic highlights the vital nature of government programs like BARDA that provide a crucial interface between the U.S. federal government and the biomedical industry.With the outbreak of COVID-19, BARDA has been the primary agency in Operation Warp Speed, providing billions of dollars to vetted and proven biomedical industry partners to focus on creating a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine. This funding will help BARDA not just with COVID-19, but also to remain a strong government interface to private sector innovation and expertise to prepare for all future outbreaks or biological attacks.
Protecting Israel, our strongest ally in the Middle East region.H.R. 7617 includes language I strongly supported to take a stand against the dangerous Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which attempt to delegitimize and isolate Israel through economic warfare. While an ever-increasing number of Speaker Pelosi’s Democrats support the BDS movement, a bipartisan majority supported legislative provisions to unapologetically support our staunchest ally in the Middle East by standing for Israel and pushing back against anti-Semitism.”