Moulton Lands Wins in Appropriations Bills
Congressman Seth Moulton (D-MA)
WASHINGTON —Over the last week, the House of Representatives has passed a series of appropriations bills. Rep. Seth Moulton secured funding in them for the North Shore and the Merrimack Valley.
“In a divided Congress where nearly every bill is stalled, appropriations bills are the few trains that are almost guaranteed to leave the station. My team and I have been working all year to make sure that they’re passed with policies that bring funding home to us,” Moulton said. “The money that we secured will reshape our communities and commutes, improve access to mental health care, and modernize our national security to keep us safe here at home.”
Every year, the President of the United States sends a budget to Congress on the first Monday in April. Congress consults the president’s budget, and then writes its own with caps on how much money can be spent by the federal government in the coming fiscal year. After the budget caps are set, Congress distributes money to the federal agencies through appropriations bills like those passed this week. The federal agencies spend the money over the course of the fiscal year.
Moulton secured the following wins in this year’s appropriations bills:
GETTING PASSENGER RAIL BACK ON TRACK
Moulton has led Congress’s efforts to increase funding for Amtrak over the last several years. This year he led a bipartisan effort that included 95 of his colleagues in a request for more funding for federal passenger rail programs. His multi-year push paid off. The transportation bill increases the amount Amtrak could receive to $10 billion, up from $2 billion last year. The Transportation-Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill included $5.75 billion for Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, $4.3 billion for Amtrak’s long-distance and state-sponsored routes, $5.5 billion for the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements Program (CRISI), and $200 million for the Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair. The funding Moulton secured will ensure Amtrak can continue and improve services despite COVID-related cost increases and ridership decreases. Amtrak can also use the money to complete key passenger rail corridor capital projects. Additionally, Moulton led a separate bipartisan letter in March, which secured $1 billion in coronavirus relief for Amtrak and $25 billion for transit agencies nationwide.
PROTECTING RELIEF FUNDING FOR PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Moulton partnered with Representative Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) to successfully block Education Secretary Betsy DeVos from using federal funding to enforce a misguided rule, which would divert hundreds of millions of dollars intended for public schools to private schools. The duo amended the Labor-Health and Human Services-Education Appropriations bill to make sure that funds included in the CARES Act, the coronavirus relief bill the House passed earlier this year, got to the right place. The CARES Act directed public schools to provide a percentage of relief funding to private schools in their areas based on the number of low-income students enrolled in those private schools. Instead, when Secretary DeVos issued the department’s guidance, she directed public schools to allocate funds to private schools based on the total number of students enrolled. After fielding concerns from education leaders on the North Shore, Moulton led a bipartisan letter, which more than 70 of his colleagues joined, calling on Secretary DeVos to rescind her guidance. Instead, Secretary DeVos doubled down on ignoring the intent of Congress and issued a rule that reinforced the guidance. Moulton’s appropriations amendment would block the Department of Education from enforcing this rule.
MODERNIZING RMV AND DMV RECORD SHARING BETWEEN STATES
Moulton successfully pushed the Transportation-Housing and Urban Development Committee for report language directing the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to help states build digital notification systems that will help them share data about dangerous drivers. In June 2016, seven motorcyclists—including Marine veterans and their loved ones who were all members of the Jarheads Motorcycle Club—were killed on their way to a charity event by a dangerous driver licensed by the state of Massachusetts. The driver had previously been arrested for driving infractions in two states, including a DUI in Connecticut, but was allowed to remain on the road with thousands of other unsafe drivers when the Massachusetts RMV failed to take process out-of-state notifications that would have caused the driver to lose his license. An investigation after the crash found thousands of paper notifications of driving infractions piled in large trash bins at a processing center in Quincy. In response, Moulton introduced the SAFE DRIVERS Act to bring RMV and DMV traffic safety systems into the 21st century. He already secured the inclusion of key provisions of the bill into H.R. 2, the Moving Forward Act, a major transportation and infrastructure package that passed the House earlier this month.
PROMOTING TRANSIT-ORIENTED DEVELOPMENT
Moulton partnered with Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA) to secure $15 million in grants for the Federal Transit Administration’s Pilot Program for Transit-Oriented Development Planning. The expansion of Transit Oriented Development will revitalize communities, reduce pollution and congestion, and grow economic opportunities for people who cannot afford to live in major cities like Boston.
PROTECTING NORTH ATLANTIC RIGHT WHALES
Moulton successfully amended the House of Representatives' version of legislation that will fund the government next year to include an additional $1.5 million for research and monitoring to help scientists, commercial fishermen, and conservation groups better protect the critically-endangered North Atlantic right whale. This is on top of the $2 million already included in the bill, bringing Congress’s total FY21 investment in right whales to $3.5 million.
WOUNDED WARRIOR RESEARCH
Each year, Congress allocates money for biomedical research on health matters that affect military service members, veterans, and their families. Moulton led a bipartisan effort to fund basic and clinical orthopedic research on trauma injuries that affect service members’ arms and legs. More than 15,000 patients have been enrolled in studies funded by this program to date. Results will lead to major improvements in surgeons’ abilities to treat these devastating injuries.
INCREASING THE NUMBER OF MENTAL HEALTH PROFESSIONALS IN THE MILITARY
As part of his ongoing effort to expand mental health care and break the stigma within the military, Moulton led a bipartisan letter asking the Defense Department to address the shortage of mental health providers through targeted recruitment and retention efforts. In response to Moulton’s bipartisan request, the House-passed appropriations bill includes a directive for the Department of Defense to determine the unmet need for behavioral health services among service members and an estimate of the resources required to hire more behavioral health professionals. The legislation also includes a $6 million increase for the Health Professions Scholarship Program, a critical tool to increase recruitment of mental health professionals.
BUILDING A NATIONAL SECURITY INNOVATION NETWORK
Moulton led a successful bipartisan effort to amend the Defense spending bill to support a total of $40 million for the National Security Innovation Network, the office within the Department of Defense charged with building new pipelines for technological innovation. The office manages the Hacking for Defense initiative, that asks college students across the nation to solve a specific problem the Department of Defense and the Intelligence Community faces, and then challenges them to develop prototypes that the government could use to combat future threats.
INVESTING IN THE NEXT GENERATION OF SERVICEMEMBERS
Moulton has championed the Sea Cadets and Young Marines, two nonprofit youth initiatives that encourage fitness, STEM education, and community building. The programs teach young people the values of leadership, teamwork and self-discipline. Moulton successfully added $4 million for the Young Marines program with support of a group of bipartisan colleagues. This funding has a high return on investment to develop a talent pipeline of top quality recruits to the US Armed Forces.
SUPPORTING TRAUMA-BASED CARE IN POST-CONFLICT COUNTRIES
The State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs bill includes support for the idea to grow the ranks of American diplomats who are trained to provide mental health assistance in conflict zones. Moulton requested language in this year’s bill that will hopefully lead to funding in the future. The bill recognizes that Americans can provide mental health screenings for vulnerable populations in conflict areas around the world. The bill voices support for future training and education in psychosocial support services for State Department personnel, a first step for future investment in the years ahead.
MODERNIZING INTERNATIONAL ALLIANCES
The Department of Defense works with other countries to train their militaries and civilian government agencies to meet security challenges. The partnerships help protect America from threats that develop overseas. As our partners and allies in Southeast Asia continue investing in next-generation technology to help build their digital economy, they are also increasingly exposed to cybersecurity threats. In the bill, Moulton secured $5 million to establish a pilot program to increase regional cyber cooperation with countries throughout Southeast Asia.
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