July 26, 2017

Van Hollen Fights for Maryland in Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations Bill

Today U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen, member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, voted to support the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies appropriations bill. It will invest in national security, law enforcement, and American scientific innovation. It also provides funding for three agencies with a major presence in Maryland: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

"From protecting our communities, to investing in American innovation, to expanding our economy, this legislation provides important funding for Maryland. It also includes a provision to get the FBI headquarters consolidation project back on track," said Senator Van Hollen. "And it sends a strong bipartisan message to President Trump that Congress will not support the senseless cuts that he proposed to programs that are vital for our nation's success."

Senator Van Hollen successfully fought to include strong language condemning the Administration's decision to cancel the procurement for the new FBI headquarters consolidation project. It sets out clear instructions that the FBI must provide a justification for the cancellation, the scope and cost for keeping the current headquarters operational until a move, and a report on a plan for consolidating into a new headquarters within 30 days of enactment of this bill. Congress provided $523 million for the project in FY 2017 and stated its intent to provide additional funding for FY 2018. Ultimately, the goal is to push GSA to move forward with a site selection so the FBI moves on from its current deteriorating facility.

The bill passed today rejected reckless cuts proposed by the Trump Administration and provided important funding for vital Maryland interests.

While the Administration proposed cuts to Earth Science funding at NASA and would have eliminated key missions like the Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud Ecosystem (PACE) program and RESTORE-L at NASA Goddard, Senator Van Hollen and his colleagues on the Appropriations Committee continued support, including:

  • $1.921 billion for NASA's Earth Science budget, which is a major mission area at NASA Goddard in Greenbelt, Maryland. It is vital to our effort to learn to respond to natural or human-induced changes, and to improve prediction of climate, weather, and natural hazards. This funding would improve climate models, weather prediction, and natural hazard mitigation through Earth observation from space.
  • $130 million for the RESTORE-L program at NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, which was eliminated in the President's budget. Restore-L will help establish a technology testbed for rendezvous, proximity operations, docking, inspection, refueling, and relocation of satellites. It is fundamental to future NASA platforms and missions, including human exploration of Mars, the Moon, and asteroids.
  • $80 million for the PACE program at NASA Goddard in Greenbelt, Maryland. PACE is a first-of-its-kind mission out of NASA Goddard that will combine ocean and atmospheric research to learn how airborne particles and clouds impact the health of our oceans. This information can be used to understand this ecosystem and apply that information to fisheries research and management, and help us understand harmful algal blooms and other marine hazards that affect our economy.
  • $533.7 million for the James Webb Space Telescope at NASA Goddard in Greenbelt, Maryland. This is a key program for the scientific community and central to the nation's ground-and space-based astrophysics programs. FY 2018 funds will allow the program to sustain progress toward a successful 2018 launch. The Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland will operate the telescope after it is launched.
  • $150 million for the Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope at NASA Goddard in Greenbelt, Maryland. The mission is a partnership with the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, Maryland and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. It is intended to explore dark energy and dark matter and their influence on the expansion and mass of the universe, building on technology from the Hubble Space Telescope and the James Webb Space Telescope.
  • $198 million for Landsat 9 mission at NASA Goddard in Greenbelt, Maryland. The mission would extend the ability to detect and quantify changes on the global land surface at a scale where natural and man-made changes can be detected and differentiated. With data from Landsat satellites, scientists can track deforestation in, farmland irrigation, and the growth of urban areas. With this data, firefighters have also assessed the severity of wildfires and scientists have mapped the retreat of mountain glaciers.
  • $16 million for the NASA Double Asteroid Redirect Test (DART) Mission. DART is intended to deflect asteroids or other near-earth objects away from the Earth. It is a part of the Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment mission, which is an international collaboration among the European Space Agency, NASA, Observatoire de la Côte d´Azur, and the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland.

The bill provides important support for combating the opioid epidemic and improving community policing, including:

  • $174 million to help our communities combat heroin, synthetic drugs, and the illegal distribution and use of opioids.
  • $404.5 million for the Byrne-JAG program, which is leading source of federal justice funding to state and local jurisdictions. The Maryland Governor's Office of Crime Control and Prevention administers these funds for programs that improve Maryland's sentencing and corrections policies and wide-ranging programs that reduce recidivism, support re-entry services, increase the number of drug treatment beds, initiatives that provide or enhance services for victims of crime, including human trafficking, and programs that address the heroin and opioid crisis in Maryland
  • $207.5 million for Community Oriented Policing Services hiring, which will place approximately 1,000 more police officers on the streets of our communities.
  • $483.5 million - the highest funding level ever - for grants provided by the Office on Violence Against Women.
  • $45 million to support multi-disciplinary community response teams tasked with developing and implementing comprehensive reform regarding sexual assault, including reducing the backlog of rape kits at law enforcement agencies.
  • $110 million for Department of Justice programs that work to strengthening police-community relations.
  • $65 million for the Community Trust Initiative, which includes funding for law enforcement to purchase body cameras, the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, and the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation program.
  • $2.5 million for the DOJ Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD). LEAD is a pre-booking diversion program that allows law enforcement officers to redirect low-level drug offenders to community-based services instead of charging them with a drug offense and putting them in jail. Cities like Baltimore, Maryland are committed to working together with all stakeholders to address the opioid epidemic.
  • $385 million for the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), which was eliminated in the President's budget. LSCs provide high quality legal assistance to those who would be otherwise unable to afford adequate legal counsel. These funds will better serve the almost 800,000 Marylanders who are eligible to receive help from LSC's 14 offices statewide.
  • $4 million for the NIST Organization of Scientific Area Committees in Gaithersburg, Maryland, which supports forensic science technical standards development to support public safety and national security. At a time when public safety and national security are some of our nation's top priorities, it is imperative we invest in scientific tools that support these endeavors.

The bill invests in research and economic development to help communities across Maryland grow 21st century jobs, including:

  • $254 million for the Economic Development Administration (EDA), which was eliminated in the President's budget. EDA awards infrastructure and planning grants to all 50 states. The fiscal year 2018 funding level will leverage an additional $2.15 billion in local and private investment and support nearly 35,000 American jobs.
  • $944 million for NIST in Gaithersburg, Maryland. NIST is the only research laboratory in the U.S. government specifically focused on enhancing industrial competitiveness, including a robust research portfolio concentrated on the technical challenges associated with advanced manufacturing. Between one-third and one-half of the economic growth in the United States can be attributed to technological and scientific innovation.
  • $60 million for the NIST Radiation Physics Building 245 modernization in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Its research is vital to the expanding study of nuclear medicine and creates the measurements and standards for the 39 million mammograms conducted each year. As the oldest building on the campus, it has significant repair needs that must be addressed without delay.
  • $775.777 million for the Joint Polar Satellite System and $419 million for the Polar Follow-On in Lanham, Maryland. This is a collaborative effort between NOAA and NASA that provides data to help improve forecasts of weather and climate events and provide more accurate public warnings, reducing the potential loss of life and property
  • $5 million for the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Follow-On program, which is a key priority of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Maryland. It would address critical challenges necessary to maintain and improve America's space weather prediction and forecasting capability.
  • $10 million for the National Science Foundation Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) Excellence in Research initiative. The program assists HBCUs that have systematically lacked the research and development infrastructure needed to compete for federal grant opportunities. HBCUs in Maryland, such as Bowie State University or Morgan State University, would have the ability to enhance their current sponsored programs operations.

Finally, the bill makes critical investments in environmental programs to restore the Chesapeake Bay, provide outdoor educational opportunities, and protect marine life, including:

  • $5.524 million for the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office in Annapolis, Maryland. The office works with state and local governments, non-profit organizations, and private industry to improve the health of the Chesapeake Bay's unique coastal and marine habitat.
  • $5 million for NOAA Oyster Restoration. This funding is essential to operate native oyster hatcheries, particularly in Maryland, as oysters are so critical for keeping our oceans clean.
  • $11.5 million for the NOAA Marine Aquaculture Program. Aquaculture provides a source of economic development in employment, growth of local industries, particularly in rural coastal and inner city urban communities.
  • $65 million for the NOAA Sea Grant College Program, which provides important returns to coastal communities across the country and was eliminated in the President's budget. In Maryland, Sea Grant Extension agents have helped develop oyster aquaculture businesses and a new certification program for professional landscapers to install effective stormwater control measures with native plants. They have started five Watershed Stewards Academies, engaging the public and interfaith partners in Chesapeake Bay clean-up. They've also participated in teacher training to bring aquaculture education to our students and improve STEM education in biology, chemistry, and physics.
  • $7.5 million for the NOAA Bay-Watershed Education and Training Program (B-WET), which has been a critical tool in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. For example, the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland is currently using a 2016 grant to provide watershed education to approximately 5,600 Baltimore City school children. The curriculum will be able to be replicated in other urban areas using technical advice from the Aquarium. B-WET funds also help Maryland schools meet the environmental literacy graduation requirement and assist the state in implementing the environmental literacy goals of the Chesapeake Bay Agreement.
  • $5 million for the NOAA Environmental Literacy Grants Program. This program enables NOAA, as the nation's leading expert on weather, climate, and ocean information, to enhance informal education programs in science centers, universities, and museums across the country.
  • $57 million for operations and $8.5 million for construction at NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, which conserve America's national marine sanctuaries and their natural, historic, and cultural treasures. NOAA is currently considering a designation for Mallows Bay Charles County, Maryland. The site is ecologically significant as a habitat as well as historically and culturally significant, and has the potential to be a strong tourism asset in southern Maryland.