Washington—Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today released the following statement on the package of federal funding bills that Congress will vote on this week:
“The package of funding bills that Congress will vote on this week keeps the government open and delivers big wins for California. I support this legislation because it makes key investments in programs critical to our state.
“It includes new funding to address the two of the biggest challenges California faces: wildfires and homelessness. The package includes $5.6 billion to fight wildfires and also gives communities additional resources to fight homelessness.
“I’m glad this funding package includes the California priorities that we requested and I look forward to its enactment.”
Senator Feinstein helped secure $5.6 billion to fight wildfires, a $1.6 billion increase over last year. The legislation also requires the federal government to prioritize projects in national forests facing significant tree mortality, like those in California.
It also instructs the federal government to use new authorities provided in last year’s farm bill to promote forest health on federal, state and private land, and continues programs that remove dead or dying trees close to homes and infrastructure, and encourages new markets for wood products to help fund dead-tree removal.
The legislation also includes Senator Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Senator Feinstein’s bill to extend tax relief for individuals and businesses harmed by the 2018 natural disasters.
“Wildfire is the biggest threat to California and climate change is making the problem worse,” Feinstein said.
“This bill recognizes that reality and includes new funding to reduce the risk of wildfire in our forests and to fight wildfires before they burn out of control. By prioritizing both wildfire suppression and prevention, this bill gives firefighters the tools and resources necessary to keep our communities safe.”
Senator Feinstein helped secure critical funding to combat homelessness, including $2.7 billion for Homeless Assistance Grants, $141 million more than last year. The bill also includes $80 million for the Youth Homeless Demonstration Program, created by Senators Feinstein and Susan Collins (R-Maine) to help communities connect young people experiencing homelessness with supportive services and housing.
“Homelessness isn’t just a California problem, it’s a national problem affecting families across the United States. The federal government must be a partner in any local and state efforts to solve it, and that’s exactly what this bill accomplishes,” Feinstein said.
“While there is not a one-size-fits-all solution to end homelessness, one model we’ve seen work consistently is supportive housing. This package supports programs that pair housing with job training, counselling and mental health services, allowing us to address the underlying causes of homelessness and keep people off the streets.”
The funding package includes the Family First Transition Act, a bill cosponsored by Senator Feinstein to help states update their child welfare systems in an effort to keep more children with their families and out of foster care.
“Counties in California provide some of the most robust child welfare services in the country. Unfortunately, a gap in funding would’ve disrupted many of those programs as counties transitioned to new federal child welfare standards,” Feinstein said.
“Our bill ensures those counties will not face financial shortfalls by granting short-term funding to support their wonderful work as they adapt to the new requirements meant to keep children with their families rather than placing them in foster homes.”
“The funding package includes $25 million to study gun violence, the first federal funding for such research since 1996,” Feinstein said.
“This is a public health issue. If we’re going stop gun violence then we need to understand its causes. Ending the misguided moratorium on federal gun violence research will ultimately save lives, and that is something we should all support.”
“The funding package invests in the specialty and organic crop programs important to California’s agriculture communities,” Feinstein said.
“These investments are key to helping our farmers stay competitive in the global market. It also protects SNAP funding and expands access to the program to college students so fewer people will go hungry.”
Additional California provisions
- Nearly $2 billion for major transit projects, including Los Angeles’ Regional Connector and Purple Line subway projects, San Diego’s Mid-Coast Corridor rail project and San Francisco’s BART Core Capacity project.
- $5.9 million for programs to restore the San Francisco Bay, a $1.3 million increase over last year.
- $16 million, a $1 million increase over last year, to improve Lake Tahoe’s water clarity, reduce the risk of wildfires in the Tahoe Basin and combat invasive species.
- $8.5 million for citrus greening research and control management techniques.
- $192 million to fund efforts to protect specialty crops from invasive pests.
- $1.5 million to improve the federal government’s ability to observe and prepare for West Coast weather storms known as “atmospheric rivers,” which are responsible for 50 percent of the annual rainfall and 90 percent of the flood events in California.
- $13 million, a $5 million increase over last year, for Department of Justice 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.
- $25.7 million to continue development of the West Coast Earthquake Early Warning System.
- $3 billion for earthquake recovery efforts at China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station.
- Increases the Low Income Housing Tax Credit to provide an incentive to build or rehabilitate affordable rental housing in California communities hit by natural disasters.
- Requires the Department of Agriculture to implement new drought provisions Senator Feinstein secured in last year’s farm bill to protect the Salton Sea.