U.S. Senators Bob Menendez and Cory Booker (both D-N.J.) Thursday voted to approve the Fiscal Year 2023 Omnibus (H.R. 2617), a government funding bill which provides significant investments in health care, transportation, housing, and education programs. Sens. Menendez and Booker also fought to secure federal funding in the bill designed exclusively for community projects across New Jersey and for an amendment to provide relief to 9/11 families and other U.S. victims of state-sponsored terrorism.
“With today’s passage of the FY23 funding bill, we’ve been able to support many of the priorities I’ve been fighting for during the 117th Congress. From securing a five-year extension of the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program and an additional 200 slots for Graduate Medical Education to providing justice and relief to 9/11 families and other U.S. victims of terror and funding Puerto Rico’s Medicaid program for the next five years, this spending package provides key investments for communities all over the country,” said Sen. Menendez. “I’m also pleased to have secured specific provisions for the state of New Jersey, including $181 million for individual projects and programs across the Garden State and funding for key projects like Gateway and the Army Corps of Engineers. While this bill should have included a provision paving the way for the Latino Museum to be built on the National Mall – I’m proud to have voted for the package and look forward to working with my colleagues in the next Congress to advance the issues that were left behind.”
“The Senate passed a bipartisan government funding bill that invests in our future, helps manage rising costs, and strengthens our economy, health, and well-being. This bill ensures our children, our families, our troops, and our veterans have access to vital services and programs. It will improve financial security through emergency savings accounts and makes significant investments in our region’s infrastructure, including advancing the Gateway Program. The bill also provides critical security and humanitarian aid to the people of Ukraine as they fight to defend their democracy from Russia’s invasion,” said Sen. Booker. “I am disappointed we were unable to reach an agreement to restore the expanded child tax credit to provide relief for millions of American families, including our most vulnerable; to secure critically needed increases in global food aid; or to include measures to finally end the crack-powder cocaine sentencing disparity that has contributed to the explosion of mass incarceration in this country. This bill caps off one of the most productive Congresses in history. But there is still work to be done, and I look forward to working with colleagues next year to reinstate the child tax credit expansion and take steps toward building a more equitable country.”
H.R. 2617 provides $1.7 trillion in funding, which reflects increases in both non-defense and defense spending over FY22. Overall, the 12 appropriations bills provide $772.5 billion in nondefense funding and $858 billion in defense funding, including $44.9 billion in emergency assistance to Ukraine and our NATO allies and $2.4 billion for states who helped resettle Ukrainian refugees.
Sen. Menendez secured several legislative victories in the package including: a five-year extension of the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program, the first funding increase for this vital program in a long time; an additional 200 new graduate medical education (GME) positions to respond to the dire need for mental health professionals; and five-year funding for Puerto Rico’s Medicaid with a Federal Medical Assistance Percentage (FMAP) of 76%. Additionally, key provisions from Sen. Menendez’s bipartisan, bicameral DIVERSE Trials Act to help improve patient access to and diversity in clinical drug and treatment trials, as well as the reauthorization of the Minority Fellowship Program (MFP) included in the Senator’s Pursing Equity in Mental Health Act (S.1795), were also both included in the omnibus spending package.
A number of legislative changes championed by Sen. Booker are part of the package, including: making permanent the option that states can provide 12 months of continuous Medicaid or CHIP coverage during postpartum, an effort Sen. Booker has called for in his MOMMIES Act and temporarily secured in the American Rescue Plan; the reauthorization of the Alternative to Opioids in Emergency Departments Reauthorization Act, a Booker bill that establishes a grant program for developing and implementing alternatives to opioids for pain management in hospitals and emergency departments; Sen. Booker’s Enslaved Voyagers Memorial Act, which authorizes the establishment of a memorial in Washington, DC, to honor enslaved persons who were forcibly transported across the Atlantic; Sen. Booker’s bipartisan Emergency Savings Act, legislation to help Americans save for unexpected expenses through workplace emergency savings accounts; an additional $50 million for community violence intervention efforts; Booker’s bipartisan FDA Modernization Act that would end the outdated requirement that experimental drugs be tested on animals, instead allowing for non-animal testing when appropriate; a modified version of Sen. Booker’s Right Whale Coexistence Act to establish a new federal grant program to protect the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale; and additional funding for Small Business Administration to support entrepreneurship.
New Jersey specific provisions include:
- Gateway: $1.26 billion for Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, an increase of $385.5 million over FY22 levels. The bill funds the Capital Investment Grants (CIG) program at $2.635 billion in total. $2.21 billion of this is for normal FY23 appropriations, and the remaining $425 million is to help existing projects, like the Portal North Bridge, offset increased costs. The bill includes a $25 million increase in funding for the Portal Bridge in New Jersey – a key component of the broader Gateway Program – as part of a pot of money secured by Sens. Menendez and Booker to support projects affected by inflation and supply chain disruptions.
- Hoboken Rebuild by Design Project: Sens. Booker and Menendez fought to include an important extension for the Hoboken Rebuild by Design Project that will allow critical flood safety improvements to move toward completion in Hoboken, New Jersey.
- Teterboro Airport: The bill includes Sens. Menendez and Booker’s report language prohibiting the use of funds to increase the aircraft weight restrictions at Teterboro Airport.
- Army Corps of Engineers: The bill includes $37,300,000 in funding for New Jersey Army Corps projects. Sens. Menendez and Booker successfully fought to secure a critical legislative fix for the Green Brook Flood Risk Management Project that will allow for the allocation of additional funding at full federal cost share to the project, which is critical to the safety of New Jersey communities.
- Manufacturing of Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs): included in the bill (Section 3204) was partially authored by Sen. Menendez, and would create an advanced manufacturing center of excellence to help increase American manufacturing of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs).
More broadly, the FY23 funding bill includes investments in:
- Early Childhood Education: increase of $2.8 billion above the FY22 enacted level.
- Head Start: $12 billion for FY23, an increase of $960 million over FY22, which includes a $596 million cost-of-living adjustment for Head Start staff, and $262 million in quality improvement funding.
- K-12 Education: $458 billion, an increase of $2.4 billion over FY22.
- Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG): $8 billion, an increase of $960 million over the enacted FY22 level.
- Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs): provides $396 million, an increase of $33 million above the FY22 level.
- Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs): provides $271 million for HSIs including for Post-Baccalaureate Opportunities for Hispanic Americans and Food and Agriculture to provide Education Grants for Hispanic-Serving Institutions.
Transportation & Infrastructure
- Roads and Bridges: $62.9 billion for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), an increase of $2.3 billion compared to FY22. Of this total, $58.765 billion is from the Highway Trust Fund to meet the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act obligations for Federal-aid highway programs and $3.418 billion from the general fund, which includes $1.145 billion to reduce the backlog of structurally deficient bridges.
- Public Transportation Grants: $105 million for federal grants under the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for Public Transportation Security.
- Port Security: $100 million for federal grants under FEMA for Port Security.
- Disaster Relief: $803 million in emergency disaster relief for the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and $213.9 million for the Federal Transit Administration (FTA).
- Investments in High-Poverty Areas: Included language to target federal resources to high- and persistent-poverty to more than a dozen programs within the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Treasury, and EPA. Sen. Booker leads the Targeting Resources to Communities in Need Act, a bill to establish a government-wide effort to increase the share of federal dollars going to high need communities. The bill also contains new language directing the Economic Development Administration to create a plan to increase the share of investments across all EDA programs in persistent poverty counties, high-poverty areas.
- Maternal Health: The bill includes $324 billion for maternal health, an increase of $120 million. The bill makes permanent the option for states to provide 12 months of postpartum coverage to pregnant individuals in Medicaid and CHIP, which is a critical step towards ensuring yearlong coverage for all pregnant people nationwide.
- Firefighter Cancer Registry: The bill provides $5.5 million in funding for the Firefighter Cancer Registry, a $2.5 increase from FY22. Sen. Menendez led the request for $5.5 million in funding.
- Prostate Cancer Research: $110 million for prostate cancer research and $45 million for ovarian cancer- flat over last year.
- National Institutes of Health (NIH): The bill includes $47.5 billion for the NIH, an increase of $2.5 billion.
- Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC): The bill includes $9.2 billion for the CDC, an increase of $760 million. This funding is critical to support the US response to continuing and emerging public health threats.
- State Opioid Response: The bill includes $1.6 billion, an increase of $50 million for states’ response to the opioid pandemic. Sen. Booker’s bill also authorizes the Alternative to Opioids in the Emergency Department (ALTO) Reauthorization Act, which establishes a grant program for developing and implementing alternatives to opioids for pain management in hospitals and emergency departments. Yearly funding has increased from $6 million to $8 million.
- Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP): The bill includes $735 million, a $20 million increase over last FY’s $715 million.
- Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB, and Malaria: $2 billion included, a $440 million above FY22.
- Environmental Protection Agency: The bill provides $10.135 billion for the EPA, an increase of $576 million over the FY22 enacted level. This funding invests in core environmental programs, providing increases for EPA enforcement and compliance programs (+$72 million), clean air programs (+$32 million), water programs (+$33 million), and toxic chemical programs (+$20 million) – helping advance environmental protection and environmental justice throughout the country.
- Ocean Programs: The bill funds the Sea Grant program at $80 million, a $4 million increase above the FY22 enacted level. Coastal Zone Management grants are funded at $81.5 million, $2.5 million above the FY22 enacted level. The National Estuarine Research Reserve System is funded at $32.5 million, an increase of $2.8 million. NOAA Habitat Conservation and Restoration is funded at $56.684 million. Sens. Menendez and Booker write an appropriations letter each year requesting funding for these programs.
- Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE): The bill provides record funding for EERE at $3.46 billion, an increase of $260 million above fiscal year 2022 enacted.
- Water Infrastructure: The bill continues steady funding for the State Revolving Funds, including $1.126 billion for Drinking Water and $1.638 billion for Clean Water. The Water Infrastructure Financing Innovation Act (WIFIA) loan program increased by $6.1 million totaling to $75.640 million. The bill provides $27.5 million for lead contamination testing at schools and childcare centers.
- Wild and Scenic Rivers: The bill funds the Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers program at $5.3 million for fiscal year 2023, an increase of $900,000 and building on significant prior year increases that Sen. Menendez helped secure by leading the annual appropriations letter for the program.
Housing, Community, and Economic Development
- Community Development Block Grant (CDBG): $3.3 billion for the CBDG to support community development activities to build stronger and more resilient communities.
- Rooftop Solar in Puerto Rico: The bill includes $1 billion to assist in the deployment of rooftop solar and energy storage systems for low-income households and households with people with disabilities in Puerto Rico. Sen. Menendez championed this effort in the Senate, which will help to increase grid resiliency in the island especially following natural disasters.
- Choice Neighborhoods: The bill provides $350 million for the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative, the same as FY22. The Choice Neighborhoods program supports locally driven strategies that address struggling neighborhoods with distressed public or HUD-assisted housing through a comprehensive approach to neighborhood transformation.
- Public Housing: The bill provides a total of $8.514 billion for Public Housing, an increase of $64 million from FY22.
- Housing for the Elderly: The bill provides $1.075 billion for Section 202 Housing for the Elderly, including $120 million for service coordinators. Sen. Menendez led a letter requesting full funding for contract renewals and $600 million for new construction.
- Housing for Persons with Disabilities: The bill provides $360 million for Section 811 Housing for persons with disabilities. In total, the increases to 811 and 202 will provide housing for 2,910 new households.
- Housing Counseling Assistance: The bill provides $57.5 million for housing counseling assistance, unchanged from FY22.
- Financial Assistance for Home Heating: The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) received $5 billion, which is $1.2 billion more than in FY22. The program provides financial assistance for home heating and cooling to low-income households including those in New Jersey.
- Disaster Supplemental: The Disaster supplemental includes $3 billion in CDBG-DR for 2022 natural disasters, which includes funding for Puerto Rico’s recovery of Hurricane Fiona. It also includes a $5 billion appropriation to the Disaster Relief Fund, which pays out for expenditures for FEMA individual assistance program. The Disaster Relief Fund also covers infrastructure repairs under FEMA’s Public Assistance program.
- NFIP Extension: Despite Sen. Menendez’s fight to reform the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) the omnibus only extends the program until September 30, 2023.
- Support for disadvantaged communities: The bill includes $800 million for RAISE Grants (formerly TIGER/BUILD), including not less than $20 million for grants to assist areas of persistent poverty and historically disadvantaged communities.
- Inclusive Zoning to Increase the Supply of Affordable Housing: The bill includes a new $85 million competitive grant program that will reward state, local, and regional jurisdictions that have made progress in improving inclusionary zoning practices, land use policies, and housing infrastructure that will ultimately increase the supply of affordable housing. Sen. Booker has been leading efforts in the Senate to expand inclusive zoning policies and has included zoning reform provisions in his legislation to address the affordable housing crisis, the HOME ACT.
- Enslaved Voyagers Memorial: The bill includes Sen. Booker’s Enslaved Voyagers Memorial Act, which authorizes the establishment of a memorial on federal land in the District of Columbia to honor enslaved persons forcibly transported across the Atlantic.
Science and Innovation
- CHIPS and Science Act: The bill provides $1.8 billion in new funding to implement the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act of 2022. This includes $820 million in the CJS Appropriations bill and $980 million in supplemental funding to help jumpstart the initiative. The CHIPS and Science Act sets out an ambitious goal of doubling funding for science and technology programs by 2027 to help drive U.S. economic competitiveness.
- NASA: The bill funds the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) at $25.4 billion. This is $1.34 billion more than the fiscal year 2022 enacted level.
Public Safety and Justice
- Community Violence Intervention: The bill provides a total of $50 million for community violence intervention programs.
- Recidivism Reduction: The bill provides a total of $35 million for programs to reduce recidivism rates for people reentering society.
- Reentry Programs and Research: The bill increases Second Chance Act funding from $115 million to $125 million to address a wide array of issues returning citizens face when reentering society after their time incarcerated, including substance abuse treatment, mental health services, job training, and housing services.
- Public Defense: The bill provides $1,382,680,000 in funds for the operation of federal defender organizations to ensure adequate representation in federal court, an increase of nearly $39 million from FY22.
- Judicial Training Programs: The bill provides $22 million to the Department of Justice Office on Violence Against Women for grants to support families within the justice system, a ten percent increase from FY22.
Financial Services and General Government
- Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs): The bill provides $324 million for the CDFI Fund, $29 million more than FY22. Sen. Menendez led the funding support letter for the CDFI Fund requesting $331 million.
- Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC): The bill provides $2.149 billion for the SEC. Sen. Menendez led the funding support letter for this amount.
- Emergency Savings: The bill includes Sen. Booker’s bipartisan Emergency Savings Act, a bill to facilitate convenient and affordable access to workplace emergency savings accounts, improving financial security, and reducing retirement leakage.
- Disaster Retirement Savings: The bill includes Sen. Menendez’s provision that would allow for individuals to permanently be able to withdraw up to $22,000, per Stafford-declared disaster, from an employer-sponsored retirement plan or IRA without being subject to the normal 10% early distribution tax penalty. This provision would also allow the emergency distribution to spread over a taxpayer’s income over a three-year-period. This provision would be applied retroactive to January 26, 2021—the expiration date of the last Stafford-declared disaster that allowed for retirement plan distributions, thus allowing for coverage for Hurricane Ida.
- SBA Funding: The bill provides $1.218 billion for the Small Business Administration, which is $188 million more than fiscal year 2022. That includes $320 million for Entrepreneurial Development grants, which is $30 million above the 2022 – including $140 million for Small Business Development Centers, $27 million for Women’s Business Centers, and $41 million for Microloan technical assistance. It also increased funding for SBA’s Growth Accelerators from $3 million to $10 million, to stimulate innovation and entrepreneurship across the country. Sen. Booker leads the appropriations request and the Startup Opportunity Accelerator Act, which would authorize and scale the program.
- Minority Business: The bill provides $70 million for the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) to help minority owned businesses grow and succeed and to implement the new programs authorized in the Minority Business Development Agency Act, which passed as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. This is an increase of $15 million, or 27 percent, above the fiscal year 2022 enacted level.
- Data on Child Poverty: The bill included Sen. Booker’s request to create more frequent and timely measures of poverty, including child poverty. The bill also included funding to support these frequent and timely measures of material hardship, including measures focused on children and families. Currently, the U.S. Census Bureau releases poverty estimates annually and with a significant lag; further, this data can fail to capture the full scope of hardship and deprivation children and families confront. These changes will help us better understand child poverty and child wellbeing in real time.
- Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) Sites: The bill provides $11 million for the Tax Counseling for the Elderly Program and $40 million for the Community Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program, which helps low- and moderate-income individuals and families nationwide comply with their tax obligations and maximize their returns and savings. That is an increase of $10 million over last year.
- Worker Protection Programs: The bill makes important investments in agencies that help workers receive the pay they earn; ensure that employers provide safe and healthful working conditions; and strengthen trading partner commitments to comply with labor rights under free trade agreements and preference programs. The Wage and Hour division receives $260 million, an increase of $9 million. Wage and Hour recovers wages for workers that do not receive the pay they are entitled to receive for their work, which on average amounted to $1,212 for each of the 193,349 workers assisted by the agency in 2021. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) receives $632 million, an increase of $20 million. OSHA works to ensure that employers are following the law and providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. The bill includes an increase of $25 million for the National Labor Relations Board, which administers and enforces the National Labor Relations Act and protects employee and employer rights under the law. The bill also establishes critical worker protections through the Pregnant Worker Fairness Act, a bill to provide expecting and new moms with temporary, reasonable accommodations to avoid devastating health complications and support their families and ensure they are no longer fired or forced off the job, and the PUMP For Nursing Mothers Act, a bill expanding worker protections for nursing workers, a bill which Senator Booker co-led.
- Department of Veterans Affairs: The bill provides the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and related agencies $135.2 billion in non-defense discretionary funding, as well as $168.6 billion in mandatory funding, to fulfill our obligations to our nation’s veterans. This is $34 billion above fiscal year 2022 levels. This includes $118.7 billion for VA medical care in fiscal year 2023, a $21.7 billion or 22.4 percent increase over fiscal year 2022. $5 billion is included in the Cost of War Toxic Exposures Fund, which will be used to implement the PACT Act.
- World War II Bill: Division U of the Omnibus contains the Joseph Maxwell Cleland and Robert Joseph Dole Memorial Veterans Benefits and Health Care Improvement Act of 2022. This is SVAC’s end of year package which includes S. 1040, Sen. Menendez’s bill to provide all veterans of World War II healthcare services through the VA.
Voting Rights and Elections
- Electoral College Reform: The bill includes the Electoral Count Reform Act of 2022 to improve how elections are certified and clarify that the Vice President only plays a ceremonial role in the certification process. The bill, co-sponsored by Sen. Booker, will prevent attempts such as those used by former President Trump to prevent the certification of election results.