Rep. Calvert Votes for Government-Wide Funding Bill
Today, Congressman Ken Calvert (CA-42) voted along with a majority (256 to 167) of the House of Representatives to approve the Fiscal Year 2018 Omnibus Appropriations Act. Rep. Calvert is the Chairman of the Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee.
“While long overdue, the funding bill passed by the House today provides the necessary resources for our important federal programs,” said Rep. Calvert. “A number of priorities for the 42nd Congressional District and our region were included in the bill, including funding for flood control projects, the earthquake early warning system, and an expansion of infrastructure programs. As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, I am proud of the bipartisan work by the members of our committee, and I look forward to shifting our focus to the Fiscal Year 2019 appropriation process.”
“The significant funding provided in the bill will help ensure that the West Coast has a functioning earthquake early warning system in the near future. I will continue to be a champion for this life-saving technology that can have a significant impact when big earthquakes strike. Let’s take the steps we can to save Americans from preventable injuries during natural disasters.”
“The inclusion of the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act in the bill is a major step towards giving the Forest Service the budgetary certainty it has been lacking for far too long. We know all too well that our current approach to wildfire management and budgeting just isn’t working. By taking this important step, we can devote more resources to wildfire prevention efforts and start to curb the rise in catastrophic wildfires.”
Rep. Calvert Priorities Included in the Fiscal Year 2018 Omnibus Appropriations Act:
- Earthquake Early Warning System: The Interior and Environment portion of the bill includes $22.9 million requested by Rep. Calvert for the continued development of an earthquake early warning system to help save lives during natural disasters. Of the $22.9 million provided, $12.9 million is for the earthquake early warning program while $10 million funds infrastructure buildout of the system (new sensors and equipment). The funding is an increase of $12.7 million above the previous year’s funding level.
- Santa Ana River Mainstem Project: The Energy and Water portion of the bill includes $40 million requested by the Trump administration and Rep. Calvert for continued construction of the Santa Ana River Mainstem flood control project.
- Wildfire Disaster Funding Act: The bill includes the legislative text of the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act which fixes the way we currently budget for wildfire suppression by treating catastrophic wildfires like other natural disasters. As a result, the Forest Service can focus its resources on maintenance and prevention work without fear of losing those dollars to address fire suppression needs.
- Supporting Our Troops: $654.6 billion in total discretionary funding for the Department of Defense – the largest investment in our Armed Forces since the beginning of the War on Terror. The funding level represents a $61.1 billion increase in the investment in our troops, the biggest year-to-year increase in defense funding in 15 years. The bill also fully funds a 2.4% pay raise for our troops.
- Air Quality Improvement Programs: The bill includes $75 million for the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act (DERA) grant program, an increase of $15 million compared to the previous year. The funding helps retrofit older diesel emission engines and bring cleaner burning engines to our roads. A significant amount of the DERA funding is spent in California's South Coast Air Quality Management District. The bill also contains $40 million for the EPA’s Targeted Airshed Grant program, an increase of $10 million compared to the previous year. The program awards grants to the regions in the country with the most severe air pollution.
- E-Verify: The bill includes $108.8 million for E-Verify as well as an additional $22.6 million to prepare the program to become mandatory.
- Birth Tourism: The Homeland Security portion of the bill included report language requested by Rep. Calvert addressing the rise in visa fraud for the purpose of having children in the United States. The growth of so-called birth tourism has resulted in a number of raids and arrests throughout southern California over the past few years. More recently, the city of Eastvale has reached out to Rep. Calvert about the growth of suspected birthing homes in the city. The language in the bill states:
The Committee is concerned by a reported increase in individuals fraudulently entering the United States on non-immigrant visas in order to give birth in this country. While individuals are welcome to come to the U.S. on a tourist or other visa, it is against the law to apply for admission under false pretenses. The Committee is also concerned with reports that different ports of entry may not be consistently applying CBP guidance in this area, allowing individuals seeking to exploit the visa process to direct pregnant women to specific ports of entry with more lenient admission practices. The Committee directs CBP to investigate these fraud allegations and take steps to ensure that admission criteria are applied uniformly across ports of entry.
- Indian Health Care: The Interior and Environment portion of the bill includes $72 million requested by Rep. Calvert for the Indian Health Care Improvement Fund to address the shortfalls in the allocations of base funding across the Indian Health Service system. The funding is particularly important to rural California tribes.