Udall, Heinrich: New Mexico Priorities Pass the Senate in Major Funding Bills

Interior, Agriculture, Transportation & Commerce funding bills include big wins for New Mexico’s economy and communities

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) joined the full Senate in voting to pass a package of Fiscal Year 2020 bills to fund New Mexico priorities, including the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, the Agriculture Appropriations Bill, the Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Bill, and the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Appropriations Bill. The bills must now be negotiated with the House of Representatives before being sent to the president to be signed into law.

Udall, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee where the bills were written, said: “Federal funding is very important for New Mexico, and I’m proud to have secured critical investments in New Mexico’s economy and communities in the Appropriations Committee that were included in these major, bipartisan funding bills. As the ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior and Environment, I made sure that our bill benefits and strengthens New Mexico, Indian Country, and the entire nation – providing strong resources to protect our public lands and the thriving outdoor economy they fuel, as well as funding key programs for Native and rural communities, and protecting Chaco Canyon. I also worked for an agriculture funding bill that gives support to a range of New Mexico’s farming communities – including acequias, land grants, veterans, beginning farmers, and those that may be socially disadvantaged – and other rural communities. And, I’m proud to have helped secure a transportation and housing bill that makes smart investments in technology to reduce DUI accidents, protects funding for Amtrak’s Southwest Chief route, and invests in infrastructure and housing in New Mexico and Indian Country. I’ll work hard to get these investments signed into law to benefit our economy and way of life in New Mexico.” Udall is the ranking member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior, Environment, and Related agencies, which writes the Interior Appropriations Bill.

Heinrich said: "This funding bill makes robust investments in the people of New Mexico and our economy. Because of the services we provide to the nation, New Mexico’s economy relies heavily on federal investments, and this package provides some long-term stability. I’m pleased we were able to secure measures to improve tribal broadband and housing, support our farming communities, invest in science and infrastructure, and grow New Mexico’s outdoor recreation economy -- including resources for the Valles Caldera and the highest funding level for the Land and Water Conservation Fund in 15 years. I will continue to work to get this funding package over the finish line to support our state and build an economy that works for everyone."

Highlights of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill include:

Protections for Chaco Canyon, and investments in New Mexico public lands: The bill includes report language to reinforce a 10-mile radius protecting Chaco Canyon from oil and gas leasing. The legal limits are paired with funding for information and research on the sacred Tribal ground. The bill also includes funding for conservation in local communities in New Mexico and protection for Valles Caldera.

Valles Caldera: The bill includes additional land management funds for Valles Caldera and directs the National Park Service to allow the park to retain those funds going forward, so they become part of the park’s annual budget and provide budgetary certainty.

Funding for PILT: The bill fully funds payments to counties through the PILT program, which are estimated at a total of $500 million.

PFAS: The bill also provides $25 million in new funding for environmental cleanup programs and related scientific research to help address contamination caused by PFAS chemicals and other contaminants of emerging concern. 

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF): The bill provides the highest funding for LWCF in 15 years, $465 million, $30 million more than fiscal year 2019 for Federal land acquisition and State conservation grants provided through the LWCF. The President’s budget proposed a negative total for LWCF, in the amount of -$27 million, due to rescissions from previously appropriated funding. LWCF is critical for improving recreational access to our federal lands, protecting iconic landscapes, delivering grants to states and local governments to create and protect urban parks and open spaces, and providing farmers and ranchers with easements to allow them to continue to steward their private lands in the face of development pressures.

Carlsbad: The bill continues funding provided for cave and karst research at the National Cave and Karst Research Institute in Carlsbad, New Mexico. 

Gold King Mine: The bill includes $4 million for the EPA to continue monitoring water quality in areas affected by the Gold King Mine spill, and includes language directing the EPA to continue to work in consultation with affected states and Tribes on a long-term water quality monitoring program for the states and Tribes affected following the Gold King Mine spill into the Animas River.

Additional highlights are available HERE.

 

Highlights of the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies funding bill include:

Acequias and Land Grants: The bill included Udall and Heinrich’s report language that highlights the provision included in last year’s Farm Bill and directs USDA to provide interim guidance quickly and in a manner that covers irrigation and efficiency infrastructure. 

PFAS: The bill included Udall and Heinrich’s report language to direct the Secretary of Agriculture to use an existing program for dairy indemnity to purchase cattle contaminated by PFAS chemicals.  Udall and Heinrich are fighting for dairy farmers in Clovis, New Mexico, where the USDA is currently paying for dumped milk each month.

Agriculture Research: The bill includes $1.4 billion for agriculture research, $121 million more than FY 2019.  Every one dollar invested in agricultural research yields a return of $20 to the economy. The bill also includes $937 million for the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, an increase of $10 million from FY 2019.

Conservation: The bill includes $835 million for Natural Resources Conservation Service conservation operations, which funds helps soil and water conservation, environmental restoration, and drought resilience.

Beginning farmers and ranchers, assistance for socially disadvantaged veteran farmers and ranchers: Provides a total of $33 million, rejecting the administration’s proposal to eliminate these important programs that provide assistance to some of our farmers that continue to make farming a way of life, despite their sometimes limited resources.

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP): The bill includes $69.163 billion for SNAP, which offers nutrition assistance to millions of eligible, low-income individuals and families, provides economic benefits to communities, and is the largest program in the domestic hunger safety net. 

Lunch Shaming: The bill included Udall’s language that directs USDA to provide guidance to lunch program operators. This guidance would include approaches that protect children from embarrassment, encourage lunch fee communications with parents and guardians instead of children, and encourage schools to provide for efficient enrollment in free and reduced-price meal programs.

Broadband on Tribal Lands: The bill included a provision that highlights the lack of federal funding for Tribal broadband projects, directs USDA to provide data on the number of proposed projects, and echoes the GAO’s request for a list of regulatory barriers that impede tribes from obtaining funding.

Additional highlights are available HERE.

 

Highlights of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (T-HUD) funding bill include:

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA): The bill fully funds Essential Air Service, important for rural communities in New Mexico, and includes $3.8 billion for the Airport Improvement Program (AIP)

Federal Highway Administration (FHWA): The bill supports FAST Act authorized funding levels for all contract authority programs, including Tribal Transportation for Tribes in New Mexico and across Indian Country

National Highway Traffics Safety Administration (NHTSA): The bill includes $5.4 million to continue development of the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) technology and an additional $4 million in general funds to reduce impaired driving – a portion of which must be used for field testing DADDS technology. 

Southwest Chief and Federal Railroad Administration: The bill includes $2 billion, a $58.4 million increase from FY 2019 for Amtrak. $1.32 billion is for the National Network, a $28.4 million increase from FY2019. The bill also includes report language prohibiting Amtrak from eliminating, reducing service or substantially altering service on the Southwest Chief route.

Native American Housing programs: The bill includes $820 million in total for Native American Housing programs, including an amendment Heinrich secured to increase participation in the Tribal HUD-VASH program. The program helps offer permanent home and supportive services to Native American Veterans who are experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness.

Additional highlights are available HERE.

Highlights of the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) funding bill include:

Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA): The report includes language proposed by Udall and Heinrich requiring MBDA to have at least one Business Center in any state with a majority or plurality of a national minority (which includes New Mexico). MBDA announced funding for two Business Centers in New Mexico in 2019. 

Bureau of the Census: $7.6 billion for the Bureau of the Census, $3.7 billion above the FY2019 enacted level.  In order for the Bureau to execute an accurate and efficient 2020 Census next year, the bill provides $6.7 billion for the decennial census.  This amount includes the $2.5 billion that was agreed to as part of the recent 2019 Bipartisan Budget Agreement.

The Economic Development Agency (EDA): $319.5 million, an increase of $15.5 million over last year including $7.5 million increase in support for the Regional Innovation Program which has helped spark job creation in New Mexico.

The International Trade Administration (ITA): $521 million, $26 million over the previous year, for essential services to businesses in New Mexico and around the nation that will benefit growing trade exports with Mexico, China, and other foreign countries.

Justice: The bill provides full funding for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), United States Marshals Service (USMS), and Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in addition to $2.8 billion for state and local law enforcement and crime prevention grant programs, which includes grants for state and local law enforcement, the Crime Victims Funds, the Second Chance Act, the Office on Violence Against Women, and juvenile justice programs.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA): The bill provides $22.8 billion, $1.25 billion above the FY2019 enacted level, reflecting the need to fund infrastructure for human spaceflight to support for the accelerated plan to return to the moon by 2024 while supporting NASA’s science, technology development, aeronautics, and education activities. Universities and other organizations in New Mexico have long been partners with NASA in research and development activities.

National Science Foundation (NSF): $8.3 billion, $242 million above the FY2019 enacted level. Funding is provided for basic research across scientific disciplines to support the development of effective STEM programs. Udall and Heinrich successfully fought for continued funding for Tribal Colleges and Universities Program (TCUP) at $15 million, Hispanic-Serving Institutions Program (HSI) at $40 million, and Inclusion Across the Nation of Communities of Learners of Underrepresented Discoverers in Engineering and Science (INCLUDES) at $20 million.