WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Senator and Senior Member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Susan Collins, successfully secured major provisions for Maine in the FY2016 Omnibus Bill, which will fund the government through next September. The legislation passed the Senate (65-33) this afternoon, following the House vote of (316-113) earlier today. The legislation was signed into law by the President this evening.
As a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Collins worked diligently over the last year to successfully negotiate the inclusion of a number provisions with wide-ranging significance for Maine and for our country, including:
$1 billion toward an additional Destroyer Likely to be built at BIW and full funding for the DDG-1000 program— Senator Collins successfully advocated for the inclusion of one billion dollars for an additional destroyer that will likely be built at BIW.
The federal truck weight limit in Maine is now permanent law— As the Chairman of the Senate Transportation Appropriations Committee, one of Senator Collins’ top priorities has long been to keep trucks weighing up to 100,000 pounds off of our downtown streets and onto the federal interstates where they belong. In 2011, Senator Collins successfully negotiated an agreement to allow the heaviest trucks on the highway for the next 20 years. This provision in the omnibus makes these truck weight limits permanent law for the state of Maine.
$2 billion increase for NIH—including a $350 million increase to combat Alzheimer’s Disease— This increase is the largest to the NIH’s budget since 2003. As Chairman of the Senate Aging Committing and founder and co-chair of the Senate Alzheimer’s Task Force, securing increased funding for Alzheimer’s has long been one of Senator Collins’ top priorities. This year, 5.2 million Americans, including 37,000 in Maine, will suffer from the devastating emotional and economic toll caused by Alzheimer’s disease. The omnibus bill includes a $350 million dollar increase in funding to combat Alzheimer's disease for fiscal year 2016 bringing the total to $936 million.
$22 million increase for Weatherization Assistance Programs (WAP)—Senator Collins has long worked to increase funding for WAP, which plays an important role in permanently reducing home heating and electricity costs for low-income families and seniors through cost-effective energy efficiency home improvements. A total of $215 million for WAP is included in the omnibus, a $22 million increase.
Increased Cybersecurity Protection for federal government networks— This legislation includes all five of the major provisions included in Senator Collins’ bipartisan FISMA Reform Act, which she introduced following the cyber-attack at the Office of Personnel Management earlier this year. These critically important provisions will help to protect our government systems and prevent future, potentially devastating cyber attacks against our nation.
Increased funding for offshore wind power — Senator Collins has long advocated for increased funding for the development of offshore wind technology and successfully advocated to include language directing $7.4 million for “alternate projects designs,” which directly benefits UMaine’s innovative deepwater offshore wind project. The total amount provided for DOE’s wind program is $95.5 million.
Protection for paper inserts for prescriptions— The omnibus includes a provision authored by Senator Collins that would block the FDA’s proposed E-labeling rule for prescribing information, which would be acutely felt by rural Americans. This provision will protect paper inserts that are important tools for our pharmacists and health care professionals in charge of administering life-saving medications to our hardworking families and seniors.
$6 million increase for the Rural Education Achievement Program (REAP)—The Omnibus provides $175.8 million for REAP, which supports rural schools and districts. As a senior member of the Senate HELP Committee, Senator Collins successfully secured an extension of the REAP program in the “Every Student Succeeds Act,” which was signed into law on Dec. 10.
$60 million increase for federal TRIO Programs—Senator Collins advocated for a $60 million increase for the federal TRIO programs, which provide critical services that help first-generation, low-income student earn college degrees. This brings the total funding for TRIO to $900 million.
$42.5 million to help end youth homelessness—As chairman of the Housing Appropriations Subcommittee, Senator Collins secured $42.5 million to test comprehensive efforts to end youth homelessness, better track the number of homeless youth, and evaluate the effectiveness of current programs.
In addition to these provisions, Senator Collins also worked to secure:
- $7.2 million for the Maine Air National Guard’s 101st Air Refueling Wing to renovate the base fire and crash rescue station. Bangor Air National Guard fire fighters provide crash, fire, and rescue support for alert and military training missions, Bangor International Airport operations, and Contingency Aircraft Support missions.
- $119 million for the Runaway and Homeless Youth Act (RHYA) programs, which have helped thousands of homeless youth meet their immediate needs and provided long-term residential services. This is a $5 million increase for the RHYA programs.
- $450 million for the Land and Water Conservation Fund and a three year reauthorization. Funding will support Maine’s Big Six Forest Legacy Project and a key acquisition within Acadia National Park’s boundary.
- $500 million for the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) competitive grant program. Maine has received a TIGER grant award each year, totaling more than $112 million, since it was established in 2009.
- $60 million for 8,000 new HUD-VASH vouchers to reduce veterans’ homelessness.
- $33.6 million for State Maritime Academies.
- $50 million for the Railroad Safety Grants account.
- $35 million for the Regional Information Sharing System.