WASHINGTON – Rep. Cindy Axne (IA-03) voted July 29 to approve and advance a package of seven appropriations bills to fund investments ranging from public health and safety initiatives to expansions of federal support for broadband, skills training and rural communities.
The legislation includes multiple provisions that Rep. Axne worked to secure over the first half of 2021, including direct funding for nine projects across Iowa’s Third Congressional District and provisions to prevent closures or delivery service cuts at the U.S. Postal Service.
Creston and Mount Ayr facilities were among the $10,196,672 in direct investments for projects across Iowa’s Third Congressional District — $600,000 granted to Creston Waterworks to repair and upgrade components at the city waterworks facility, and $725,336 granted to the Ringgold Child Care Center in Mount Ayr, to expand programming and add facilities at that location. Other parts of that funding were also granted to other locations across central and southwest Iowa to support their projects and infrastructure.
This funding was granted as a result of Axne soliciting input from community members across central and southwest Iowa to identify funding opportunities that would qualify for inclusion in this year’s funding bills earlier this year.
Other investments included in the package include:
• A 10% increase in funding for job skills training programs through the U.S. Department of Labor, including $105 million for career skills training programs at community colleges, funding that Axne successfully increased via an amendment she offered earlier this week.
• $9.16 billion for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and $9.1 billion for the Health Resources and Services Administration — nearly a 40% increase for two key public health agencies.
• SAMHSA mental health programs get an increase to $3.16 billion in this legislation, including an $825 million increase to the Mental Health Block Grant to enable investments across the behavioral health continuum to support prevention, screening, treatment, and other services. The bill increases funding for first responder training to $27 million, including a 30% increase for the SIREN grant program.
Rural health programs would also see their funding doubled over last year’s budget, including $79 million in rural hospital support and $10 million for the Rural Maternity and Obstetrics Management Strategies (RMOMS) program.
• $3.77 billion for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy funding, which includes $375 million for the Weatherization Assistance Program, which will support the weatherization of nearly 50,000 American households.
• $1 billion for the Small Business Administration, including $140 million for Small Business Development Centers.
• $800 million for the ReConnect rural broadband program, which Axne led a bipartisan effort to increase funding for earlier this year, including an amendment to expand eligibility to more Iowa communities.
• $30.4 million for the Rural Energy for America Program, a $30 million increase over last year’s budget, to provide guaranteed loan financing and grant funding to agricultural producers and rural small businesses for renewable energy systems or to make energy efficiency improvements.
• $185 million for NeighborWorks program to support unique solutions to expand affordable housing options, increase housing counseling assistance, and strengthen economic development.
The bill also includes language Axne sought to include that requires the United States Postal Service to continue providing six-day delivery and prohibits USPS from closing or consolidating small rural post offices.
Only state, local, and certain non-profit entities were eligible to request or receive funding, and the requests made by Rep. Axne were certified to have both community support and demonstrable need in the area where the funding would be allocated.
The package of funding bills also includes her other priorities, such as:
• $97.6 billion for Veterans Medical Care through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
• $13.2 billion for mental health care programs – a $2.9 billion increase over last year’s funding
• $36 billion for Title I Grants to Local Educational Agencies through the U.S. Department of Education
• $12.2 billion for Head Start programs, an increase of $1.4 billion above the FY 2021 funding level.
• $11.34 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency, with $3.23 billion for Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds and $1.54 billion for Superfund clean-ups.
• $10.6 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
• $7.4 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant.
• $3 billion to establish the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health to accelerate the pace of scientific breakthroughs for diseases such as ALS, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and cancer.
• $1.873 billion for farm programs, a $48.5 million increase over last year’s funding, to continue support for various farm, conservation, and emergency loan programs, and help American farmers and producers.
• $1.2 billion for National Infrastructure Investments grants.
The package of funding bills passed July 29 includes the appropriations bills to fund federal agencies for the 2022 fiscal year, which begins October 1.
The bills cover annual funding for the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Energy, Interior, Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, Veterans Affairs, and the Environmental Protection Agency.