Under Chairman Collins' Leadership, Senate Passes Transportation-Housing & Military-VA Spending Bill, with $1.1 billion for Zika

Click HERE to watch Senator Collins’ floor statement

Washington, D.C.—Under the leadership of U.S. Senator Susan Collins, the Chairman of the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations Subcommittee, the Senate passed a bipartisan appropriations bill by a vote of 89 to 8 that provides essential funding for the Department of Transportation, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, related agencies, military construction programs, and the Department of Veterans Affairs.  The legislation also contains $1.1 billion to fund efforts to counter the Zika virus.

“The bill makes vital investments in our nation’s infrastructure, helps meet the housing needs of the most vulnerable among us, and provides funding for economic development projects in our communities that create jobs,” said Senator Collins.  “Our bill strikes the right balance between thoughtful investment and fiscal restraint, thereby setting the stage for future economic growth.”

“At heart much in this bill is about creating jobs and security for our fellow citizens,” Senator Collins continued. “If you don't have a place to live, it is very difficult to show up for work every day. If the infrastructure is crumbling, it is very difficult for a business to hire the employees that produce goods and to get those products to market. The construction projects that this bill will fund create good-paying jobs.”

Senator Collins noted that the legislation contains important provisions that will help reduce homelessness among vulnerable populations, including veterans and youth. 

“Our bill provides $57 million in new Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing vouchers so that we can continue the progress we're making in housing our homeless veterans,” Senator Collins remarked. “Since we started this program, the number of homeless veterans has declined by about a third. This program works, but we can't declare victory until the job is done.  That's why we have continued to fund this program even though the President's budget sought to eliminate it.”

“We've also made real investments in helping some of our most vulnerable young people who have been in the foster care program and then age out of that program. In some cases they're aging out of the program before they've even graduated from high school, leaving them with nowhere to go. Through family reunification vouchers and other programs, we're beefing up the support so that they don't fall through the cracks and become vulnerable to traffickers, to dropping out of school, to couch surfing or ending up in shelters. I'm very proud in particular of the work that we've done in that area.”

Senator Collins also commended her colleagues on the cooperative, bipartisan spirit that pervaded the deliberations over the bill, from the Appropriations Committee’s review to final passage. 

“I am pleased that we were able to bring spending bills to the floor for members to examine, debate, and vote on in a transparent manner. The worst situation is when we do a series of continuing resolutions, temporarily funding the essential functions of government. They create uncertainty, they lock in priorities from previous years rather than reflecting today's priorities, and they end up costing the government more money.”

“The legislation that we passed incorporates some 40 amendments. There were also recommendations from more than 75 senators from both sides of the aisle that were included in the Transportation-HUD appropriations portion of this bill. I thank all of my colleagues for giving us their suggestions, their requests, and their insights. It made for a better bill.”