February 09, 2016

Warner & Kaine React To President Obama's Budget Proposal

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, both members of the Senate Budget Committee, released the following statements on President Obama’s budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2017 (FY 2017):

Senator Warner said: “The President’s budget contains funding proposals to grow our economy and strengthen our national security against 21st century threats such as cyberattacks. As we saw with the OPM hack that exposed the personal information of millions of people, our federal IT and cybersecurity infrastructure is badly in need of the investments President Obama laid out in his budget proposal today. The budget also recognizes the important contributions of our federal civilian and military workforce with a modest but meaningful pay raise, and provides predictability for the defense industry by maintaining strong support for shipbuilding and repair. Today’s budget proposal was made possible by the bipartisan, two-year spending deal reached last year. In the year ahead, I hope Congress can move forward in the same spirit of bipartisanship and fiscal responsibility to address the important issues that face our country. That ought to start with full and fair hearings in the Budget Committee.” 

Senator Kaine said: “The President’s Fiscal Year 2017 budget builds on the significant progress of the past eight years.  From support for key defense and national security priorities, to investments in education and workforce training, to critical funding to combat the impacts of climate change from coast to coast, to keeping an eye on the deficit—which has fallen nearly three-quarters since 2009—this is a serious budget proposal.  I am pleased by the inclusion of some extremely important programs for Virginia, including funding for programs around the Chesapeake Bay area – long needed dredging at Craney Island, flood control at Norfolk, construction at Deep Creek Bridge – along with shipbuilding wins for Newport News, a new cybersecurity initiative, and a proposal to provide significant funding to address the epidemic of opioid abuse, an issue that has placed a heavy burden on communities across Virginia. I also applaud the President for acting quickly with his request for $1.8 billion in emergency funding to help prevent the spread of the Zika virus at home and abroad. My hope now is that the Senate Budget Committee will reconsider its decision to not hold a hearing on the President’s budget, as it has for every year in the history of the committee. It’s my hope we find more ways to work together, not push each other away.”

Warner and Kaine joined Democratic colleagues and called for a reversal of the Republicans’ decision to forego holding a hearing on the President’s Budget submission for the first time in history. 

The following list includes other provisions in the President’s FY 2017 budget that would benefit Virginia:

Shipbuilding: The budget proposes $18.3 billion in ship construction funding supporting the Navy’s efforts to expand their current fleet by 28 ships, seven in FY 2017, over the next 5 years.  

Ford Class Carrier Program: The budget proposes $2.7 billion for the next-generation aircraft carrier which will be constructed at Newport News Shipbuilding.

Virginia Class Submarines: The budget proposes $4.9 billion for the construction of two Virginia-class submarines and advanced procurement for the ships which are constructed, in part, at Newport News Shipbuilding. 

Ohio Replacement Program: The budget proposes over $1.9 billion for the Ohio Replacement program for both Advanced Procurement and Research & Development.

Aircraft Carrier Refueling and Complex Overhaul: The budget proposes $1.9 billion to continue life extension and modernization of USS George Washington (CVN-73 ) and to buy long-lead materials for life extension and modernization of USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74).  

Military Construction: The budget proposes over $85 million for construction projects at Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Army Reserve Training Center in Dublin, Virginia and the Pentagon. 

Servicemember and Federal Employee Compensation: The President’s budget includes a 1.6 percent pay increase for servicemembers and federal employees. 

FBI Headquarters Consolidation: The budget requests $1.4 billion in construction funding for the construction of a new Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) headquarters facility. Three sites, including one in Springfield, VA, are under active consideration for the project. The new headquarters will allow the FBI to perform its critical national security, intelligence, and law enforcement missions in a new modern and secure facility.

Veterans: The budget proposes $78.7 billion in discretionary funding for the V-A, a significant increase above the 2016 enacted level.

Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act: The budget proposes $12.6 million in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director’s Common Fund to support pediatric research. The authorizing legislation was named for 10-year-old Gabriella Miller of Loudoun County who passed away from cancer in October of 2013.

Opioid Abuse Epidemic: The budget proposes a $1 billion two-year mandatory initiative to expand access to treatment for prescription drug abuse and heroin use. In addition to these funds, the budget makes other investments to address this challenge and includes a total increase of $559 million in FY17 for programs to address the opioid abuse, misuse and overdose crisis. These new resources build on the multi-pronged investments proposed by the Administration and funded by the Congress in FY 2016. In 2014, more Virginians died from opioid overdoses than vehicle crashes. Kaine recently held a field hearing in Leesburg to discuss legislation he has proposed to combat opioid abuse and misuse. 

Cancer Moonshot: The budget proposes a $1 billion initiative to provide the funding necessary for researchers to accelerate the development of new cancer detection and treatments. This includes: $195 million in new cancer activities at the NIH in FY 2016; $755 million in mandatory funds in the FY 2017 budget for new cancer-related research activities at both NIH and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA); and support from other agencies such as the Departments of Defense (DOD) and Veterans Affairs (VA).

Alzheimer’s: The budget continues to prioritize Alzheimer’s research education, and outreach. It includes $910 million for the NIH to conduct basic neuroscience research, and provides $20 million to address the unique needs of Alzheimer’s caregivers.

Telehealth: The proposal would expand access to telehealth services by allowing rural health clinics and federally qualified health centers to reimbursed through Medicare. Senator Warner recently introduced the CONNECT for Health Act, bipartisan legislation that would expand telehealth services through Medicare, make it easier for patients to connect with their health care providers, and cut healthcare costs. 

Reducing Prescription Drug Costs: The budget proposes $106 million to advance payment methods in Medicare to lower prescription drug costs. Warner and Kaine urged the Administration in December to work with stakeholders and explore authorities under existing law to contain drug costs. 

Cybersecurity: The budget requests more than $19 billion for cybersecurity – a 35 percent increase over FY 2016 enacted funds.  The President has also announced a new Cybersecurity National Action Plan, a long-term strategy for strengthening our nation’s cybersecurity across the government.  Under the plan, new cyber investments would include $3.1 billion for much-needed government IT upgrades, $62 million for cybersecurity personnel and $7 billion for the DOD’s cyberspace operations.  Warner and Kaine have supported cybersecurity initiatives that can bring more innovation into federal cybersecurity and build and maintain a skilled cybersecurity workforce. 

Combatting At-Risk Youth & Family Homelessness:  The President’s budget proposes $20.9 billion for the Housing Choice Voucher program, which will help approximately 2.2 million low-income families afford decent housing in neighborhoods of their choice.  This includes $88 million for 10,000 new vouchers targeted to homeless families with children. Inadequate housing is one of the most common reasons children enter foster care in Virginia. Recently, Kaine introduced the Family Unification Preservation and Modernization Act which utilizes a housing first model, similar to initiatives to combat veteran homelessness, to ensure safe and stable housing for youth aging out of foster care and families involved with the child welfare system. 

Gun Safety: The budget proposes $29 billion in funding that supports efforts to reduce gun violence, including funding to: hire 200 new special agents and investigators for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF); modernize and improve the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and hire additional NICS examiners to provide 24-hour access for criminal background checks 365 days a year; and Enhance the National Integrated Ballistics Information Network (NIBIN). Warner and Kaine have been vocal advocates on commonsense gun safety measures in the Senate.

Immigration: The budget largely reflects the 2013 bipartisan Senate-passed comprehensive immigration reform bill, which the CBO has estimated would reduce the deficit by about $170 billion over 10 years and by almost $1 trillion over two decades. Reforms will continue to focus on border security, enforcement against employers who hire undocumented workers, modernizing legal immigration and providing a pathway to earned citizenship. The budget proposes funding to provide further support for the Central American Regional Strategy to address the root causes of migration by unaccompanied children and families from Central America. The budget also invests $1 billion to stabilize governmental institutions, encourage economic development and protect citizens. The budget requests $424 million for the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR), an increase of $4 million from FY 2016.  

Career and Technical Education (CTE): The President's budget includes $80 million to help states build ‘next-generation’ high schools that promote innovative approaches for engaging, preparing and inspiring college and career-ready students. In 2015, Kaine introduced the Next Generation High Schools Act to help high schools that enroll traditionally underserved students in the development and implementation of comprehensive evidence-based reform.

Student Debt and Income-Based Repayment: The President’s budget would phase out three of the four federal income-based repayment plans, consolidating them into one option after June 30 of next year – a proposal that aligns with legislation introduced by Senator Warner, the Dynamic Student Loan Repayment Act

Advanced Manufacturing: The budget includes $1.89B in new funding to build out the National Network for Manufacturing Innovation and $141 million for the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership. These efforts will connect researchers, companies, and entrepreneurs to promote high-tech manufacturing. Virginia is home to the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing and a leader in advanced manufacturing. 

Power+ Plan: The budget proposes a series of proposals to invest in Appalachian communities and support workers and regions that have been negatively affected by the downturn in the coal industry. It includes dedicated support for coal communities in the Appalachian Regional Commission, Economic Development Administration, USDA Rural Development and the Abandoned Mine Lands Program, as well as grants to states that have recently experienced major dislocation events for job training grants under the Department of Labor Dislocated Workers National Reserve.

Chesapeake Deep Creek Bridge: The budget proposes $12 million from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to construct a new modern bridge in the City of Chesapeake on Route 17 Business over the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. The current two-lane bridge connects a four-lane road on both sides, causing a traffic bottleneck and obstructing an emergency evacuation route. The bridge was built in 1934 and is today functionally obsolete. Kaine and Warner have steadfastly advocated for several years the Army Corps and the Office of Management & Budget for this project as a key mode of relieving traffic congestion in Chesapeake.

Port of Virginia: The budget and other funding sources include funds to support the project at the Port of Virginia to expand the dredge fill capacity of Craney Island and to build a new container terminal on top of it, nearly doubling the Port’s cargo capacity. It also includes funds for a study that will lead to construction funds to dredge Norfolk Harbor to 55-feet, allowing the Port to accept the world’s largest post-Panamax cargo carriers. Warner and Kaine, along with nearly the entire Virginia delegation, wrote a bipartisan letter to the President advocating for these funds that will make the Port of Virginia one of the most competitive ports on the East Coast. 

Norfolk flood control: The budget funds an Army Corps of Engineers flooding study in the City of Norfolk, which will make the city eligible for future flood control infrastructure funding. As a coastal city active in dealing with flooding and sea level rise, the Norfolk has been named in the Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities Challenge and is a recipient of the Commonwealth’s recent federal award of $121 M from the HUD National Disaster Resilience Competition.

Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF): The FY 2017 budget fully funds the LWCF at $900 million, which enables funding for land preservation programs like the Chesapeake Gateways & Trails Program and the American Battlefield Protection Program. It would also support land preservation projects throughout Virginia at places like James River National Wildlife Refuge, the George Washington National Forest, the Captain John Smith Historic Trail, Fredericksburg Battlefield and elsewhere. 

American Battlefield Protection Program: The budget proposes $10 million in funding for the National Park Service’s (NPS) public-private matching program to preserve historic Civil War battlefields. Virginia is the largest state recipient of these preservation dollars, and according to a study, visitors to historic battlefields stay twice as long on-site and spend double the money as average tourists do. In 2014, Kaine’s bipartisan legislation – which Warner co-sponsored – was enacted to reauthorize this program and expand its eligibility to Revolutionary and War of 1812 battlefields.

Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA): The FY 2017 budget proposes $150 million in full funding for Metro capital grants, which are matched by Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. Provisions included in the recent FAST Act long-term transportation bill by Warner and Kaine strengthened federal safety oversight authority over WMATA.

TIGER Grants: The budget proposes $1.25 billion for competitive transportation infrastructure grants. Virginia has received TIGER grants in the past for an I-564 connector in Norfolk, the I-95 Express Lanes project, the Pulse bus-rapid transit system in Richmond and the Lexington Delta Frame Bridges in Rockbridge County.

Autonomous and Unmanned Systems: The budget proposes $4 billion in funding over the next 10 years for the deployment of self-driving vehicles, including $55.6 million requested for the Department of Transportation for FY 2017 to conduct research and testing in support of the safe deployment and operation of autonomous vehicles. The budget also includes $1.3 billion for the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Aviation Safety Organization to ensure the continued safety of the air transportation system, including an increase of $2.9 million for work related to the safe integration of UAS into the nation’s airspace. Virginia has one of six Federal Aviation Administration-designated test sites, the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership led by Virginia Tech.

Infrastructure Financing: The budget proposes a bank to facilitate increased private investment in infrastructure projects that will accelerate our nation’s economic competitiveness.  With many similarities to Senator Warner’s BRIDGE Act, the National Infrastructure Bank proposal would offer broad eligibility and unbiased selection for transportation, water, and energy infrastructure projects that have a clear public benefit, meet rigorous economic, technical and environmental standards, and are backed by a dedicated revenue stream.

DATA Act: The budget funds implementation of the DATA Act at key federal agencies, including a total of $23 million at Treasury and $10 million at HHS. In 2014, President Obama signed into law the bipartisan DATA Act, which was introduced by Senator Warner.

Better Workforce Data: The budget requests $574 million for the Bureau of Labor Statistics, an increase of $30 million from FY 16, and funding to collect a supplement survey each year (such as the Contingent Worker Supplement) in order to obtain better data about different segments of the American labor force. 

Housing Finance Reform: The budget calls for a wind-down of government-sponsored enterprises (GSEs) Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and supports the bipartisan bill developed in the Senate by Senator Warner and his colleagues to revamp the housing finance system. 

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