BOSTON, MA – Last week, the Congress passed and President Obama signed a bipartisan omnibus appropriations bill funding the government through Fiscal Year 2016 by a vote of 316-113.
“As local communities struggle to provide veterans with the services they have earned, I am very pleased that Congress recognized the need to invest heavily in efforts to end veterans’ homelessness and support suicide prevention programs. In addition, many families in the 8th District are faced with the devastating impacts of a loved one struggling with addiction and increased support for the drug courts program is a critical way to help halt the cycle of addiction,” said Congressman Stephen F. Lynch (D-Boston) who voted in favor of the legislation.
“While the spending package was imperfect, it makes critical investments to promote economic growth and assist the hardworking families of the 8th District. My concerns about lifting the oil export ban were outweighed by the substantial funding for alternative energy, which will create jobs across the country. From increased support for medical research into debilitating diseases to investing in updates for our aging infrastructure, the federal government has prioritized funding for many issues close to the hearts of residents of Massachusetts,” Congressman Lynch added.
Important priorities for Massachusetts families and businesses in the omnibus package include:
- $1.4 billion for Ending Veterans Homelessness: As the VA works with local communities to reduce the number of veterans living on the streets, this funding will help support efforts to end veterans’ homelessness. In addition, funding for rental assistance programs for veterans was included in the $11.3 billion for housing programs.
- $26.7 million for Defense Suicide Prevention Office: Funding to support suicide prevention is included in the $50 billion for VA Medical Services. With high suicide rates among veterans returning from service in Iraq and Afghanistan, the omnibus directs the VA to move forward with implementation of the community-oriented peer support suicide prevention network established by the Clay Hunt SAV Act, which was signed into law earlier this year.
- $42 million for the Drug Courts Program: Drug courts are proven to save taxpayers money, reduce crime, and restore families. Earlier this year, Congressman Lynch advocated for an increase in funding for the drug courts program during the Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations process.
- $32 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH): The $2 billion increase for medical research at NIH will fund projects seeking to improve the health of American families, including cancer and Alzheimer’s disease research. NIH funding plays a significant role in the medical research ongoing at local hospitals and research institutions.
- $2.1 billion for Alternative Energy: The omnibus invests heavily in renewable and clean energy with a $149 million increase for Fiscal Year 2016. Extending the wind production and solar investment tax credits for five years is expected to create good jobs in both industries.
- $500 million for TIGER Grants: The Commonwealth of Massachusetts and municipalities will be able to seek funding from the TIGER grant program for long overdue infrastructure enhancements, improving safety and access to transportation in the Commonwealth.
- Cadillac Tax Delay: The tax on high-value employer-sponsored health insurance plans, also known as the Cadillac tax, is delayed until 2020. This is a much needed delay as the Cadillac tax is expected to have a negative impact on union health plans. Congressman Lynch is an original cosponsor of H.R. 2050, the Middle Class Health Benefits Tax Repeal Act of 2015, which repeals the Cadillac tax.
- 9/11 First Responders and Victims of State-Sponsored Terrorism: The omnibus reauthorizes health benefits for 9/11 first responders and renews the Victims Compensation Fund for five years. Congressman Lynch was an original cosponsor of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act.