Langevin Statement on Passage of Government Funding Package that Supports Veterans and the Environment

Jul 24, 2020 Issues: Armed Services, Budget, Children and Families, Energy & Environment, Housing, International Human Rights, Rhode Island, Veterans

WASHINGTON – Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) today voted in favor of H.R. 7608, a $259.5 billion appropriations package that comprises the Fiscal Year 2021 State-Foreign Operations, Agriculture, Interior-Environment, and Military Construction-Veterans Affairs appropriations bills. The funding package passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 224-189.

“With an eye towards the future and with a focus on making a difference in lives during this challenging time, the spending bill the House passed today will enhance food security for families, boost public health and safety, prioritize environmental protections, support veterans, and promote human rights abroad. It includes key investments that lay the groundwork to create more opportunities for Americans and help build a stronger nation.

“Virtually all aspects of daily life have been impacted by the global pandemic, and as uncertainty looms, the security and wellbeing of Americans must remain our central focus. I’m particularly pleased this bill prioritizes SNAP and other vital family and child nutrition assistance programs to help our most vulnerable families put food on the table. It also funds considerable infrastructure upgrades to ensure more people can access clean and safe drinking water and to improve access to broadband, so students can remain engaged and continue learning whether at home or at school.

“To uphold the leading position of the United States on the world stage, this legislation sets aside funding for critical humanitarian assistance and global health aid. These investments will strengthen relationships with our allies, promote stability, and bolster cooperation during a time where the Administration has chosen to repeatedly undermine collaboration and partnership. Among this critical aid, I’m proud to have helped pass an amendment that will make $1.4 million available to the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Armenia for de-mining operations. This bill also restores important funding for the World Health Organization, pushing back on the President’s shortsighted decision to sever ties with a body that is key in identifying and responding to public health emergencies.

“From higher temperatures to rising sea levels and extreme weather events, climate change has become one of the defining issues of our time. This package provides strong support for the Environmental Protection Agency, funding clean air programs, conservation activities, and global greenhouse gas emission reduction efforts. Locally, I’m proud to have secured $6 million for the Southern New England Estuaries Geographic Program, which supports the protection and restoration of Rhode Island coasts and estuaries. This allocation includes a $600,000 increase over current funding.

“To adequately fulfill our commitments to our veterans, the government funding bill contains substantial emergency funds for medical and mental health care, homeless assistance, and military housing construction. We owe a great debt of gratitude to our veterans and their families who selflessly put their lives on the lines to preserve the very values and principles that make our country unlike any other in the world.”  

Provisions in H.R. 7608 important to Rhode Island include:

  • $68.277 billion for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), $25.131 billion for child nutrition programs, and $5.75 billion for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infant, and Children (WIC)
  • $15.17 billion in water infrastructure and other infrastructure programs, including $12.97 billion for the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds, and $546 million for lead mitigation
  • $1.45 billion for rural water and waste program loans, and more than $610 million in water and waste grants for clean and reliable drinking water systems and sanitary waste disposal systems
  • $990 million for the Rural Broadband ReConnect Program, $435 million above fiscal year 2020
  • $13.83 billion for the Department of the Interior, $304 million above fiscal year 2020
  • $9.38 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency, $318 million above fiscal year 2020
  • $12.5 billion in emergency appropriations for Veterans Affairs to address rising health care costs
  • $90 billion for VA medical services, $9.8 billion above fiscal year 2020