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U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Fights for Wisconsin in Bipartisan Omnibus Funding Deal

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Baldwin secured several bipartisan wins for Wisconsin signed into law by President Trump

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin voted for bipartisan omnibus Fiscal Year 2017 appropriations legislation that passed the Senate. The legislation eliminated the threat of a government shutdown and funds the government through September 2017. Senator Baldwin fought to include a number of important investments in Wisconsin that were signed into law by President Trump.

“I pleased that both parties could find agreement on keeping the government open. I voted for this bipartisan legislation because it makes important investments in Wisconsin. I worked hard on a number of my priorities, including supporting our veterans, making stronger investments in science and research, protecting our Great Lakes, and strengthening our Made in Wisconsin economy,” said Senator Baldwin. “I am proud that my efforts have received bipartisan support and that this legislation has been signed into law by President Trump.”

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Baldwin championed the following provisions in the FY 2017 omnibus funding legislation:

Supporting Our Veterans

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies, Senator Baldwin secured an additional $50 million for the continued implementation of the Jason Simcakoski Memorial and Promise Act. The bipartisan VA reform, signed into law last year, strengthens VA opioid prescribing guidelines, puts in place stronger oversight and accountability, and provides safer and more effective pain management services for our nation’s veterans. Senator Baldwin authored the legislation in close consultation with medical professionals, veterans service organizations, and the Simcakoski family. Senator Baldwin held a roundtable with key stakeholders last year to monitor the implementation of these bipartisan VA reforms.

In addition, far too many of our veterans are suffering from Gulf War Illness. Senator Baldwin led the effort to fund research into the complex set of Gulf War Illness symptoms to ensure more effective treatments are available to our veterans.

Investing in Science, Research and the Fight Against the Opioid Epidemic

During the budget negotiations, Senator Baldwin sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, calling for a substantial increase in investments for science, research and our fight against the opioid epidemic.  The bipartisan appropriations agreement rejects President Trump’s proposal to cut medical research funding and provides additional investments in science and research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). These investments will help support Alzheimer’s and cancer research at NIH, and also help support Wisconsin’s proud tradition of being a leader in science, research and innovation. Wisconsin research and academic institutions, like the University of Wisconsin, rely on NIH funding to support their work advancing new discoveries that lead to groundbreaking treatments and cures. In 2016 alone, Wisconsin earned $400 million in NIH funding. Strengthening our federal investment in research and science is critical to supporting Wisconsin’s economy and maintaining our country’s leadership in biomedical research.  

In addition, as a result of Senator Baldwin’s efforts, there will be a roughly $650 million funding increase for opioid abuse prevention and treatment programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA).

Building Our Made In Wisconsin Economy

Senator Baldwin successfully worked to include procurement funding for three Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) and the funding needed to successfully transition to the new Navy Frigate, which will follow the LCS. The LCS program, which is critical to our national security, employs more than 6,000 hardworking Wisconsinites at the Marinette Marine shipyard and the nearly 100 Wisconsin companies that supply parts for the ships. Senator Baldwin has long been a champion of the LCS and has visited Marinette Marine many times to tour the shipyard, meet with workers, and participate in Navy shipbuilding events. She also delivered the principal address at the U.S. Navy commissioning ceremony for the USS Milwaukee.

Senator Baldwin also fought to ensure our men and women in uniform have the safest and highest quality Made in Wisconsin equipment. Senator Baldwin pushed to fully fund the procurement of military vehicles made by Oshkosh Defense and ensured that the omnibus continued to include Buy America requirements for the diesel engines—made in Beloit by Fairbanks Morse—on the Navy’s oiler ships. Additionally, Senator Baldwin secured funding for innovative Wisconsin technologies, including $15 million for Army munitions safety research done by Phoenix Nuclear Labs in Madison, $18 million for Navy battery safety research done by Silatronix in Madison, and millions more for research programs across the military, benefiting Wisconsin companies and universities like PPG, Eaton, Cray, the Medical College of Wisconsin and the UW System, among others.

The omnibus funding legislation includes $10 million in new investments for small shipyards and maritime communities, double the amount made available last year. Senator Baldwin worked to breathe new life into this program that increases shipyards’ efficiency and capacity for shipping products made in America. The Small Shipyard Grant Program provides grants to small commercial shipyards to purchase equipment and train employees.

Thanks to Senator Baldwin’s efforts, the bill requires Customs and Border Protection officers to increase their inspection of paper imports being illegally dumped into the United States. Increasingly, Chinese paper products are intentionally mislabeled in order to avoid paying import duties. More diligent enforcement of our trade laws will allow Wisconsin paper companies to compete on a level playing field.

Finally, to keep maritime commerce moving and maintain first responders’ access to coastal communities and recreational users during the icy winter months, Senator Baldwin secured $2 million for the initial work on a second Coast Guard icebreaker for the Great Lakes.

Standing up for Wisconsin Farmers and Rural Communities

Following restrictive Canadian trade barriers causing harm for dairy farms across Wisconsin, Senator Baldwin worked to make sure our farmers are supported in this legislation. The omnibus funding package will allow the USDA to assist farmers directly with Section 32 funds, which helps farmers following unexpected events or changes in the market. It will also direct the USDA to develop insurance to cover milk, which would provide another tool to help farmers manage risk, and it directs Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to address the challenges facing dairy farmers by using his existing authorities. Senator Baldwin previously called on Secretary Perdue to take immediate action with these USDA programs that can assist our dairy farmers.

The bill also invests in agriculture research and UW Extension, which works to ensure that farmers in every corner of the state have access to research and production tools.  Every one dollar invested in agricultural research yields a return of $20 to the economy. This legislation provides a total of $2.6 billion for agriculture research to help improve yields and increase sustainability. Senator Baldwin also fought for a $750,000 increase for cover crop research, which will provide research-based decision tools to help farmers select cover crops that are practical and economical for their farm. Cover crops can help improve water quality, reduce soil erosion, improve soil health, and provide additional income to farmers. Because of Senator Baldwin’s efforts, the bill also invests $1.25 million in corn phenotyping research, the next generation of research into the corn plant, to enhance our understanding of what makes the plant thrive across different climates.

The omnibus funding legislation also includes funding for building rural community facilities—like hospitals, assisted living facilities, and water infrastructure—that are so important to a high quality of life in small towns across Wisconsin.

Keeping the Great Lakes Clean, Healthy and Safe

As a member of the Great Lakes Task Force, Senator Baldwin championed a bipartisan agreement to fully fund the Great Lakes Restoration Program (GLRI) in this omnibus funding legislation. The GLRI is a critical program for the Great Lakes region that helps protect our clean water resources. President Trump proposed eliminating federal funding for this program, suggesting that instead we could rely on the State of Wisconsin and local governments to provide this critical funding. Senator Baldwin has championed the GLRI and protecting our Great Lakes throughout her time in the Senate. Last year, Senator Baldwin successfully fought to reauthorize the GLRI for five more years in bipartisan legislation signed into law by President Obama.

In addition, to combat the growth of invasive Asian Carp in the Great Lakes and Mississippi River Basin, Senator Baldwin worked to have this legislation direct the Army Corps of Engineers to proceed with the Brandon Road Study. The study would recommend specific measures to prevent Asian Carp from getting beyond the Brandon Road Lock and Dam, a crucial chokepoint in the Chicago waterway system. This study is critical to stopping Asian Carp and other invasive species from reaching the Great Lakes and was supposed to be released at the end of February but was delayed by the Trump Administration. Senator Baldwin has pushed for the release of this crucial step to stop the spread of Asian Carp.

As a long-time supporter of Wisconsin’s coastal communities, Senator Baldwin supported funding for programs that give them a boost. This includes an increase in funding for Marine Sanctuaries to help with daily operations, research and the facilities of 13 Marine Sanctuaries; funding for the National Estuarine Research Reserve System, including the Lake Superior National Estuarine Research Reserve in Superior, WI; and investments in NOAA’s National Sea Grant College Program—a program that President Trump initially proposed to eliminate—that helps provides support our coastal communities through university based research, extension, and education programs.

Strengthening the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG)

Senator Baldwin is leading the fight against President Trump’s budget proposal to eliminate the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program, which funds local community development initiatives that support jobs, affordable housing, infrastructure, and public services for millions of Americans. In response to President Trump’s proposal to eliminate CDBG, Senator Baldwin led a group of 42 Senators in successfully pushing to maintain full federal funding for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) CDBG program.

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Baldwin will continue to advocate for strong funding for the CDBG program. Senator Baldwin recently delivered a meal to a senior in Kenosha to highlight the importance of CDBG funding for the Meals-on-Wheels program. Senator Baldwin also recently highlighted the many ways CDBG invests in a stronger Wausau. In just the last year, this community development program invested more than $56 million in Wisconsin.

Investing in Higher Education

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Senate Education Committee, Senator Baldwin promoted strong funding to invest in education and college affordability. The bipartisan omnibus funding legislation will fund year-round Pell Grants that help students afford higher education, support the new Native Language Immersion Program, and strengthen TRIO programs to provide support and services for students from disadvantaged backgrounds. 

Commemorating Women’s Suffrage Centennial

The omnibus funding legislation authorizes and funds Senator Baldwin’s Women’s Suffrage Centennial Commission Act. The legislation creates a commission charged with planning and executing programs, projects and activities to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the passage and ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, which granted American women the right to vote. This will ensure that the centennial of this critical step forward in our democracy is properly commemorated.

Investments in Clean Drinking Water

The bill includes investments in safe drinking water and lead remediation championed by Senator Baldwin, including an additional $10 million for the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation program. Combined with earlier investments made this year, this bill will leverage more than $3 billion in new water and wastewater infrastructure projects, including those to address lead and other contaminants in drinking water systems.

USDA’s Water and Sewer loan and grant financing program provides critical funding for clean and reliable drinking water systems in rural Wisconsin. Despite President Trump’s proposal to eliminate this program, the bill provides increased for this key component of rural economic development. These funds encourage private investment and add to the local property tax base.