WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) applauded Senate passage of bipartisan legislation to fund federal programs and build new military construction and facilities under the Department of Veteran Affairs (V-A), the Department of Energy (DOE), and the Department of Defense (DoD).
On a bipartisan 86-5 vote, the Senate approved the Fiscal Year 2019 appropriations package that covers funding for energy and water development, military construction and veterans affairs (MilCon-V-A), the legislative branch, and all of their related agencies. The bill will now go to conference where it will be reconciled with a version passed by the House of Representatives.
“Despite President Trump’s relentless attempts to drastically cut support for vital programs, this bipartisan bill fulfills the federal government’s commitment to supporting our nation’s military and veterans,” said the Senators. “It puts a stop to the Administration’s misguided efforts to cut or eliminate outright funding for the Appalachian Regional Commission and gut groundbreaking renewable energy R&D at the Department of Energy. It also funds new infrastructure projects that will help improve transportation networks and military facilities in the Commonwealth, and makes new investments to support the cutting-edge research at J-Lab.”
The following list includes many of the provisions Sens. Warner and Kaine advocated for on behalf of Virginia that were included in the appropriations package:
Appalachian Regional Commission: Following President Trump’s attempts to defund ARC, the bill fully funds this successful federal-state partnership by providing $155 million to continue its efforts to increase employment and economic opportunities for those living in Appalachia, strengthen and maintain the region’s infrastructure, and provide additional educational and workforce opportunities for citizens of Appalachia so that they can compete in a 21st century global economy.
Military Construction: Provides more than $131 million in new construction throughout the Commonwealth.
- Joint Base Langley-Eustis: Funds nearly $23 million on three projects at the base.
- Forts A.P. and Belvoir: Receive nearly $18 million to build new training facilities.
- Portsmouth Ship Maintenance: Provides $26 million for a ship maintenance shop in Portsmouth, Virginia.
Both Senators advocated for these projects, and more, when the Fiscal Year 2019 National Defense Authorization Act passed the Senate.
Veterans Affairs: Provides $86.4 billion in funding for the V-A, an increase of $5 billion above fiscal year 2018. The bill would increase funding to several Veteran Health Administration priority areas, including $800 million for electronic health record modernization and $8.6 billion to increase mental health services for veterans. It includes $1.9 billion for homelessness programs like the Supportive Services for Veterans and Families program, which provides assistance to homeless veterans; $196 million to hire V-A mental health providers and increase suicide prevention outreach; $78 billion to help provide high-quality and timely health care services to veterans; $174 million to improve the veteran appeals process; and more than doubles FY18 funds to provide $1.8 billion for the construction of new V-A medical facilities.
Jefferson Lab Nuclear Physics Research: Provides $710 million for nuclear physics research within the Department of Energy’s Office of Science in order to fulfill DOE’s Long Range Plan for Nuclear Science. The funds will enable scientists at labs across the country, including at Jefferson National Accelerator Facility in Newport News, VA, to engage in critical research that will maintain U.S. leadership and preeminence in this field.
Hampton Roads Infrastructure:
- Army Corps of Engineers Civil Works Projects: Provides $2.3 billion for construction of water infrastructure projects and $3.8 billion for operations and maintenance of existing infrastructure related to harbor maintenance, flood and storm damage control, and aquatic ecosystem restoration. Total funding for the Corps of Engineers is $100 million above the FY2018 enacted level and $2.1 billion above the President’s budget request.
- Donor and Energy Transfer Ports: Provides $50 million to ensure that ports like the Port of Virginia receive equitable levels of funding to reinvest in and modernize their infrastructure.
- North Landing Bridge: Provides $1.6 million for the Army Corps of Engineers to continue studying the feasibility of replacing the federally-owned North Landing Bridge, which connects Chesapeake, VA, and Virginia Beach, VA. Two years ago, Warner and Kaine were instrumental in securing federal funding to replace a similar Army Corps asset, the Deep Creek Bridge, which was a safety hazard and regional traffic bottleneck.
- Norfolk Harbor: Includes $300,000 to conclude the study phase of – and advance to construction – the deepening and widening of navigation channels in Norfolk Harbor and tributaries, which will allow the largest deep-draft container ships to call on the Port of Virginia. This project, in concert with the expansion and new marine terminal at the Craney Island Dredged Material Management Area (CIDMMA), will be a generational investment in the infrastructure and economic competitiveness of the Port of Virginia.
Other Virginia Water Infrastructure:
- Hydroelectric Licenses: Extends authorization for hydroelectric projects at John W. Flannagan Dam in Dickenson County, VA, and Gathright Dam in Alleghany County, VA.