Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today applauded passage of the omnibus federal funding bill for fiscal year 2022, a bill that includes many programs that will specifically benefit California.
“This is an excellent bill for California, including significant funding for wildfire mitigation and recovery, drought resiliency, anti-homelessness initiatives, environmental priorities and more," Feinstein said.
“I want to thank Chairman Leahy and my colleagues on the committee for their leadership on these important issues. As we emerge from the Covid pandemic, it’s time that we take a hard look at how we’ll continue to expand the economy and help California families, and this bill takes in the right direction.”
Senator Feinstein helped secure $2.45 billion in the bill to fight wildfires, including significant funding to pay federal firefighters a higher salary and determine better ways to prevent, respond to and recover from wildfires.
The bill includes a $58 million increase for wildland firefighter salaries (from $764 million last year to $822 million for fiscal 2022) that will allow the Forest Service to hire more permanent firefighters, increase all firefighter salaries to at least $15 per hour and convert seasonal positions to full-time positions.
In addition to increasing salaries for many firefighters, this bill will also ensure senior firefighters receive overtime pay they earn through 2022. By including Senator Feinstein’s Wildland Firefighter Fair Pay Act in this bill, firefighters who exceed the annual pay cap will still receive their overtime pay.
“As wildfires become more frequent and severe due to climate change, we can’t afford to have a shortage of firefighters on the job,” Feinstein said.
“Wildland firefighters perform a dangerous job and should be fairly compensated for the heroic work they perform. Reducing the pay gap between state and federal firefighters and ensuring senior firefighting personnel are paid for their overtime will help us recruit more firefighters and keep them on the job, reducing the shortage in the process.”
Other wildland firefighting provisions:
- $172 million for fire preparedness, up $20 million from last year’s level.
- more than doubles the Wood Innovation Grant program to $20 million. This program supports the development and expansion of facilities that use small diameter wood generated by hazardous fuel reduction projects.
- Extends through 2022 NASA’s authority to lease its underused facilities to Cal Fire for hangars and firefighter living space.
Drought and environmental resilience
The fiscal year 2022 funding bills will provide more than $1 billion for U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation water infrastructure and drought resilience programs in California.
Among the projects that will benefit California:
- $155 million to fund California projects under the WIIN Act, including water storage projects, water recycling projects, habitat restoration and other environmental projects.
- $130 million for seismic retrofit of the BF Sisk Dam in Western Merced County, a hub for California’s water system, and $213 million for managing and operating California Reclamation projects.
- More than $640 million for Army Corps of Engineers flood control; dam and levee safety; coastal resilience; and harbor operations and maintenance projects.
- Environmental restoration projects include Los Angeles River Ecosystem Restoration, San Joaquin River Basin, Hamilton Airfield Wetland Restoration, Resilient San Francisco Bay Project, Surfside-Sunset-Newport Beach and Sacramento River Basin Floodplain Reactivation (habitat restoration for endangered salmon).
“It’s critical that we provide sufficient funding for the Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation to complete water storage, water recycling, desalination and dam safety projects,” Feinstein said.
“California’s water infrastructure was built at a time when our population was around 19 million, but today we’re a state of 40 million. We have to modernize and extend our water systems to meet this demand.”
Senator Feinstein helped secure critical funding to combat homelessness for a variety of important programs:
- $27.3 billion for Housing Choice Vouchers.
- An extra $200 million to expand rental assistance vouchers to an additional 25,000 households, including individuals and families experiencing or at risk of homelessness; survivors of domestic violence; and veterans.
- $3.2 billion for Homeless Assistance Grants.
- $290 million for Emergency Solutions Grants.
- $107 million to prevent youth homelessness.
- $1.5 billion for the HOME Investment Partnerships Program.
“Homelessness is a growing problem in California and in many communities across the country, and any solution must include every level of government and a wide array of solutions,” Feinstein said.
“This bill does just that by investing in programs including housing, training, counseling and mental health services. This comprehensive approach will help us address many of the underlying causes of homelessness and keep people housed.”
U.S.-Mexico border pollution
Senator Feinstein secured $32 million to help stop toxic sewage and waste from flowing into the United States from Mexico, including along the Tijuana River and the New River.
“Californians simply shouldn’t have to deal with toxic sewage and waste flowing into our communities,” Feinstein said. “These funds will help reduce the problem, but we still need to need to designate a single government agency – the Environmental Protection Agency – as the lead for this problem so we can ensure these funds are spent wisely.”
Other energy and climate provisions
- $75.1 million for Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Advanced Light Source Upgrade, among other funding for infrastructure projects at the lab. The bill also includes funding increases to super-computing infrastructure at Lawrence Berkeley Energy Sciences Network.
- $21.3 million for the continuation of Santa Susana Field Laboratory cleanup work in Simi Valley.
- $1.9 billion to mitigate the effects of climate change by investing in the resiliency of transportation systems under the newly authorized PROTECT program. Among the program’s goals is helping coastal and other communities create wildfire evacuation routes, which was prompted by the Camp fire that destroyed Paradise, Calif.
Additional California provisions
- $577 million to build an Expeditionary Sea Base ship at NASSCO shipyard in San Diego, which employs more than 3,400 Californians.
- $24 million for an Environmental Agency Protection program to restore the San Francisco Bay, an increase of 170 over last year’s funding level.
- $23.8 million, a nearly 150 percent increase over 2021, to improve Lake Tahoe’s water clarity, reduce the risk of wildfires in the Tahoe Basin and combat invasive species.
- $15 million for Justice Department’s Anti-Meth Task Force Grants to help state law enforcement agencies combat methamphetamine trafficking and use. Senator Feinstein authored the provision to create these grants in 2014.
- $28.6 million to continue the development of ShakeAlert, the West Coast Earthquake Early Warning System.
- $5.6 million for a Southern California pilot research program to survey and sample the barrels of DDT dumped off the coast of California and determine if there has been any human exposure to the toxins via fish.
- $40 million in loans for the Presidio Trust, a unique federal agency, for deferred maintenance projects, such as upgrading 1960’s era utility infrastructure.
- Continued funding for SOFIA, a critical California-based telescope that provides one-of-a-kind observations in the far infrared spectrum, which faced elimination in the President’s budget request.
- The bill increases the maximum Pell Grant award by $400, for a total of $6,895. Pell Grants help nearly 1 million students in California and can be used for tuition, fees, room and board, and other educational expenses.
- Language that will provide more information on the implementation of terrain awareness and safety systems, as required by Senator Feinstein’s bill, the Kobe Bryant and Gianna Bryant Helicopter Safety Act.