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Senator Collins’ Transportation & Housing Funding Bill Passes Senate with Major Wins for Maine

Washington, D.C. — Today by a vote of 84-9, the U.S. Senate advanced the fiscal year (FY) 2020 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development funding bill, legislation authored by Chairman Susan Collins.  The legislation includes Senator Collins’ provisions to make critical improvements to Maine’s transportation infrastructure, promote economic development, and provide housing assistance for the most vulnerable populations.


“At its core, this legislation is about creating and sustaining jobs through investments that make critical improvements to our infrastructure and provide housing assistance to low-income families.  It also contains key reforms, such as improving oversight of the FAA’s aviation safety and aircraft certification programs,” said Senator Collins.  “Thanks to bipartisan cooperation, Senator Reed and I authored a bill that accommodates the priorities of many Members.  We received input from 75 Senators with more than 950 requests, all of which we carefully evaluated.”


Last week, Senator Collins delivered remarks from the Senate floor urging her colleagues to support the FY 2020 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development funding bill, which provides $74.3 billion in new funding, $3.2 billion more than last year.  Provisions secured by Senator Collins to benefit Maine include:


Department of Transportation:


·         BUILD Grants: The bill includes $1 billion for BUILD grants, which provide federal assistance for vital transportation projects across the country. Since the program’s inception in 2009, Senator Collins has secured more than $160 million for pivotal transportation investments throughout Maine, including bridges, seaports, and rail projects.  Maine grant applications through this highly competitive program have been successful in every funding round due to Senator Collins’ advocacy.


·         Highway and Bridge Funding Increase: The bill funds the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) at $49.8 billion, including $1.25 billion for a bridge repair program which includes $56 million for Maine bridges.


·         State Maritime Academies: The bill includes $300 million for a new training ship for Maine Maritime Academy.  The bill also includes $34 million for other activities at the State Maritime Academies.  Click HERE to read more.


·         Small Shipyard Grants: The bill includes $20 million for the Maritime Administration’s Small Shipyard Grant program, which helps small shipyards improve the efficiency of their operations by providing for equipment and other facility upgrades. Maine shipyards have benefitted from this program, including Rockland Marine Corporation, Washburn & Doughty Associates, Inc., of East Boothbay, and Front Street Shipyard of Belfast.


·         Aviation: The bill includes funding for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to continue its work on a statewide helicopter route system allowing helicopters, such as LifeFlight of Maine, to fly in poor weather conditions under instrument flight rules; $3.8 billion for the FAA Airport Improvement Program (AIP); $10 million for the Small Community Air Service Development Program; $5 million for the Aviation Workforce Development Program; and $162 million for the Essential Air Service (EAS) Program.  The EAS program provides commercial air service to Augusta, Bar Harbor/Trenton, Presque Isle/Houlton, and Rockland.  Additionally, funding for aviation safety programs received an increase of $32 million above the budget request, and the legislation includes language that requires the FAA to implement recommendations from the Boeing 737-MAX investigations and audits.  Click HERE to read more.


Housing and Urban Development:


·         Rental Assistance: The bill fully funds HUD’s rental assistance programs.  These programs provide housing assistance for nearly five million low-income families and individuals; the majority of these households are elderly or disabled. 


·         Community Development Block Grants (CDBG): The bill includes $3.3 billion for the CDBG program, which helps state and local governments promote economic development and job creation. 


·         Housing During Substance Abuse Recovery: The bill provides $25 million for stable housing for individuals in recovery from a substance abuse disorder, as authorized in the SUPPORT Act.


·         Homelessness Prevention: The bill includes more than $2.8 billion to help communities design and implement local solutions to end homelessness. Of this amount, $2.8 billion is included for the Homeless Assistance Grant program in order to fully meet the program’s renewal need, and includes $280 million for Emergency Solutions Grants, $80 million in funding targeted for homeless youth, and $50 million for new rapid rehousing projects that serve victims and survivors of domestic violence. The bill also includes $20 million for new family unification vouchers to prevent youth exiting foster care from becoming homeless, and $40 million for new HUD-VASH vouchers to reduce veterans’ homelessness. Since the HUD-VASH program was first established in 2008, Maine has received 238 vouchers to support homeless veterans. Click HERE to read more.


·         Lead Grants: The bill includes $290 million to combat lead hazards, $11 million above last year’s level.  This will fund intensive interventions in communities with very high incidences of lead paint.  These multi-year projects can dramatically reduce lead-based paint hazards in Maine communities with old housing that are in greatest need for lead remediation.  Under Chairman Collins’ leadership, funding for the lead hazard program has nearly tripled since 2015.


·         Housing for the Elderly: The bill includes $10 million for grants for home modifications to enable low-income seniors to “age in place’ and remain in their own homes.

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