Rep. Brenda Lawrence Votes for Omnibus Appropriations Bill to Create Jobs and Grow the Economy with Investments in America’s Priorities

Rep. Brenda Lawrence Votes for Omnibus Appropriations Bill to Create Jobs and Grow the Economy with Investments in America’s Priorities

This Legislation Makes Critical Investments in Renewable Energy, Education, Health Care, Research and Development, Law Enforcement, and Early Learning

WASHINGTON, D.C. – December 21, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — Rep. Brenda Lawrence voted with the majority of her colleagues in the House to adopt, by a vote of 316 to 113, the FY 2016 Omnibus Appropriations bill.  This measure funds the government for FY 2016.

“Today I cast my vote to avert a disastrous Republican government shutdown and to make vital investments in the future of America’s working families,” Congresswoman Lawrence said.  “The bill implements the Bipartisan Budget Agreement adopted by Congress in October. Though it is far from perfect it is a true bipartisan compromise. It is not the bill I would have written, but it is a victory for working families over the Republican Congress’s special interest priorities.”

“My passion for protecting the core priorities of hard-working Americans – such as Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid; community improvement programs, such as blight removal; renewable energy; education; research and development; and infrastructure – have been preserved and strengthened in this Omnibus package. Democrats won enormous improvements over the destructive FY 2016 appropriations bills Republicans wrote earlier this year.

“For most of this year, Republicans have been trying to make devastating cuts to our investments in the future of our hard-working American families – cuts that would kill jobs and weaken our economic growth.  For example, the House GOP bill would have slashed education initiatives by $2.5 billion below 2015 and cut HHS funding below the 2015 level.  Instead, we have made strong investments in areas that will create jobs and grow the economy.”

“I am deeply disappointed that Republicans insisted on lifting the oil export ban in this vital legislation to keep government open,” Rep. Lawrence added.  “However, I am proud to say that Democrats were able to secure sweeping victories for America’s working families throughout the Omnibus.  In addition to purging the bill of scores of Republicans’ poison pill policy riders, Democrats extended wind and solar tax credits that will eliminate around ten times more carbon pollution than the exports of oil will add.”

The bill’s investments in priorities include the following:

  • Renewable Energy:  Provides a major boost to renewable energy by extending the wind Production Tax Credit for five years (through 2019), and extending the solar Investment Tax Credit for five years (through 2021), while phasing both credits down somewhat over time.  Extending the solar tax credit is estimated to create 61,000 jobs in 2017 alone.  It is also estimated that the wind industry will grow to over 100,000 jobs over four years with the renewed wind tax credit.
  • Energy Efficiency and Clean Energy R&D:  Provides an 8 percent increase over 2015 for R&D activities in the pursuit of new clean energy and energy efficiency technologies.
  • Overall Education: The bill restores the $2.5 billion cut in education that the GOP had proposed and also makes critical additional investments of $1.4 billion above 2015, in such areas as Title I that serves 24 million at-risk students.
  • Early Learning:  Investing in Head Start produces results – and this bill invests nearly $400 million more than the House GOP bill and nearly $600 million more than 2015 in this vital initiative.  The bill also provides $250 million for Preschool Development Grants, assisting 18 states across the country.
  • Medical Research:  Medical research at NIH has been underfunded for the last several years.  This bill provides $900 million more than the House GOP bill and $2 billion more than 2015 for this life-saving research.
  • Infrastructure:  The popular TIGER grants are being used across the country to repair infrastructure and contribute to economic growth.  The House GOP bill had slashed TIGER grants by 80 percent, killing jobs, but this bill restores the funding to the 2015 level of $500 million.
  • Law Enforcement: The bill provides $187 million for COPS hiring grants, $7 million above the 2015 level and $187 million above the House GOP bill, which had eliminated the hiring grants.  The bill also provides $80 million for the Community Policing Initiative, including $22.5 million for body-worn cameras and $15 million for Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation grants.

The measure also does not include numerous GOP ideological riders that would have had damaging impacts on America’s women, consumers, workers, and children.  The damaging GOP “poison pill” riders that were removed from the final bill include:

  • GOP riders that would have limited women’s access to the full range of comprehensive health care services, including by defunding Planned Parenthood.
  • GOP riders that would have gutted the Dodd-Frank provisions that hold big Wall Street banks accountable.
  • GOP riders that would have undermined the Clean Water Act and the Clean Air Act, jeopardizing the health of our children and working families.

Finally, the Omnibus includes several other important provisions:

  • Reauthorizes the key James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, making the Health Program permanent and reauthorizing the Victims Compensation Fund for five years;
  • Delays the so-called “Cadillac” tax, a tax on employer-provided health plans worth over a certain threshold, for two years – from 2018 to 2020;
  • Includes the provisions of the Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act, which addresses issues raised by the terrorist attacks in Paris with reforms to the program; and
  • Reauthorizes the Land and Conservation Fund, which is one of our country’s most successful outdoor recreation and conservation programs and which Republicans allowed to expire on September 30.

“By passing this bill, Congress has ended the threat of a possible government shutdown that our country has struggled with for the last several months,” Rep. Lawrence concluded.  “I hope that the Republicans will now abandon their practice of creating one manufactured crisis after another and join Democrats in developing bipartisan legislation that creates jobs, strengthens the middle class and the economy, and enhances our national security. The enactment of this bill today is an important step in that direction and moving the country forward.”