Senate passes package of funding bills with overwhelmingly bipartisan vote
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, joined an overwhelming bipartisan majority of her colleagues to pass a package of three funding bills that support veterans, invest in agriculture and rural communities, and expand access to affordable housing. By a vote of 82-15, the U.S. Senate voted to advance the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies, Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies, and Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriation bills for Fiscal Year 2024.
“I’m proud to have worked with my Republican and Democratic colleagues to meet the needs of Wisconsin families, veterans, and farmers. By working in a bipartisan fashion, the Senate came together to advance legislation that will help grow our economy, lower costs for working families, and address some of our toughest challenges, all while abiding by the budget deal that the Senate, House, and White House agreed on,” said Senator Baldwin. “I was proud to champion provisions in this package that deliver for our farming and rural communities – investing in Wisconsin’s dairy industry, providing mental health resources for those struggling, and scrutinizing foreign investments in our agricultural land. I also fought hard to include more resources for veterans – creating a Veterans Crisis Lifeline to help our heroes grappling with mental health challenges, supporting county veterans service officers, and investing in VA facilities. Our bipartisan bill will help expand access to affordable housing and make critical investments in our infrastructure to ensure families can travel safely and support Wisconsin businesses get their products to market.”
Included in the legislation is:
Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies
Farmland Security Act: The legislation includes $1 million to support the Senator’s legislation that increases scrutiny over foreign investments in American agricultural land. The funding will support a new data system that will help provide the American people and Congress with information on the impacts foreign investments have on family farms, rural communities, and the domestic food supply.
Dairy Business Innovation Initiative: The bill includes continued investment in the program that Senator Baldwin created in 2018 that provides technical assistance and grants to dairy farmers and businesses across Wisconsin, supporting them with business plan development, marketing, and branding, as well as increasing access to innovative production and processing techniques to support the development of value-added products.
Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network: Senator Baldwin secured increased funding for the program that she helped create to address the mental health epidemic in rural America and expand access to critical mental health support and resources for our nation’s agricultural communities. Earlier this year, Senator Baldwin led her colleagues in a bipartisan letter to the Appropriations Committee seeking robust funding for the program.
Institute for Rural Partnerships (IRP): The bill includes continued investment for IRP, of which Wisconsin is a direct recipient through the work of the University of Wisconsin Rural Partnerships Institute in addressing challenges unique to rural communities. Most recently, the Institute announced a multi-year, multi-million-dollar investment in a weather station network that will provide real-time Wisconsin weather data. The project is vital for communities across the state impacted by increasingly common severe weather events, in particular, Wisconsin’s robust agriculture community.
Rural Development: The bill provides $1.6 billion for rental assistance to ensure rural Americans have access to safe and affordable housing. It would also decouple rental assistance from Multifamily Direct Loans, which will prevent thousands of low-income families from losing rental assistance.
Nutrition: The bill delivers critical new funding to ensure women, infants, and children can get the nutrition they need, and it protects vital nutrition assistance programs for families across the country with tight budgets.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA): The bill provides a $20 million increase in funding for the FDA to carry out its critical mission to keep families healthy and safe. More specifically, it provides an additional $7 million to conduct oversight of cosmetics for the first time ever, $3.75 million to strengthen FDA’s food safety programs, $3.75 million to address device shortages and supply chain issues, $3 million to advance neuroscience research, and $2.5 million for ALS research.
Food Safety: The bill provides $1.205 billion for the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), an increase of $46.7 million. This funding will help ensure FSIS can continue its vital work protecting America’s food supply without being forced to reduce its staffing levels, which would jeopardize food safety and exacerbate supply chain delays.
International Food Aid: The bill provides $1.8 billion in funding for the Food for Peace program and $248.3 million for the McGovern-Dole Food for Education program. As the world experiences an unprecedented hunger crisis, this funding will continue to combat hunger abroad—and save lives.
Conservation: The bill protects funding for Conservation Technical Assistance, which supports voluntary conservation practices on private land.
The Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Act fiscal year 2024 appropriations bill provides the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and related agencies $135.3 billion in non-defense discretionary funding, as well as $161.7 billion in mandatory funding, to fulfill our nation’s obligations to our veterans. The bill further provides advance appropriations for our veterans in fiscal year 2025, including $112.6 billion for veterans’ medical care and $193 billion for veterans’ benefits. The bill also includes $19.1 billion in defense spending for military construction and family housing this year—an increase of $70 million over fiscal year 2023—to upgrade and modernize critical infrastructure and support military families.
Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies Act
Support for Veterans: The package that passed the Senate fully funds veterans’ medical care and benefits, including:
Strengthens National Security: The Senate-passed legislation provides a historic funding level to modernize critical military infrastructure and build our presence in key regions around the world, including:
Delivers for Servicemembers and Military Families:
Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies
Increasing Affordable Housing and Addressing Homelessness