December 22, 2022

Van Hollen Votes in Favor of Government Funding Bill, Secures Key Maryland Priorities

Today, U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen, Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, released the following statement on his vote in support of the Fiscal Year 2023 government funding bill. The Senator also announced the inclusion of several priorities for Maryland in the legislation, which passed the Senate with bipartisan majority of 68 to 29 and is expected to be taken up by the House today. These highlights are in addition to the more than $215 million in direct federal investments that Senators Van Hollen and Ben Cardin (both D-Md.) secured for local projects in communities across Maryland.

“What we choose to invest in is one of the clearest reflections of our values. That’s why I fought for provisions within this year’s funding legislation to support the prosperity of our working families and our economy, conserve our environment and the Chesapeake Bay, and improve Americans’ access to child care, affordable education, and health care. This bill includes major wins for our state – from historic resources for Bay clean-up efforts to a fairer process for moving forward on a new FBI headquarters in our region – and will bring federal dollars directly to folks on the ground in our communities. It also bolsters the work of Marylanders at the heart of our federal workforce — backing our civilian employees, advancing groundbreaking work at our research agencies, and helping provide services to our constituents. While I was deeply disappointed that Republicans refused to support a number of key priorities, it was vital that we pass a new government funding bill instead of kicking the can down the road. On balance, this package will meaningfully invest in the critical priorities of our state and nation.”

Highlights for Maryland in the Fiscal Year 2023 Funding Legislation

  • Protection of the Chesapeake Bay and the Environment: $92 million for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Chesapeake Bay Program, a $4 million increase over last year. This program supports the coordinated regional partnership between the federal government and states in the Bay watershed to restore the Chesapeake.
    • The legislation also includes $8 million for Senator Van Hollen’s Chesapeake WILD Program. This grant program gives the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service a direct role in the restoration and protection of living resources and their habitat in the 64,000 square mile Chesapeake Bay region.
  • Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H): No restrictions on an ARPA-H headquarters or office location in the National Capital Region (NCR). In response to suggestions that Congress should place statutory restrictions on ARPA-H facilities being located within the NCR, members of the Maryland and Virginia Congressional delegations urged Congressional leaders of both parties to oppose such prohibitions. ARPA-H is a new agency proposed by President Biden to improve the U.S. government’s ability to speed biomedical and health research.
  • H-2B Visas: The extension of the provision allowing the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to issue additional H-2B visas beyond the cap in order to help ensure Maryland small businesses – like the crab houses that support our Eastern Shore regional economy – are able to meet their employment needs. The Senator continues to work toward a long term solution that provides clearer, more certain rules of the road for our seafood businesses, while protecting the rights of workers.
  • Investments in Maryland-Based Federal Government Agencies:
    • $7.2 billion for the National Cancer Institute (NCI), including $30 million for repairs and improvements to the NCI facility in Frederick, Maryland.
    • $48 billion for the National Institutes of Health, a $2 billion increase over last year.
    • $1.696 billion for the National Institutes of Standards and Technology (NIST), an increase of $466 million, including $61 million for the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Quantum Information Science research program. NIST is headquartered in Gaithersburg, Maryland.
    • Funding for several NASA missions led by Goddard Space Flight Center, the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, and the Space Telescope Science Institute, including the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope, the Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, Ocean & Ecosystem mission (PACE), and the New Frontiers Dragonfly mission.
    • Full funding for mission operations of the James Webb Space Telescope. JWST was developed at Goddard – with the involvement of over 1,000 Marylanders – and mission operations are led by the Space Telescope Science Institute. JWST successfully launched on December 25, 2021 and released its first images to the public on July 11, 2022.
    • $14.1 billion for the Social Security Administration, which is a $785 million increase, to address backlogs in retirement and disability claims processing. SSA is headquartered in Woodlawn, MD.
  • FBI Headquarters: $375 million to move forward on a new, consolidated suburban FBI headquarters and language to provide for a more fair and transparent process for the site selection.
  • Protections for Victims of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Fraud: The funding bill includes the framework of the SNAP Theft Protection Act, legislation proposed by Senator Van Hollen along with Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.) that requires states to promptly reissue SNAP benefits to beneficiaries who fall victim to identity or skimming fraud using already allocated federal funds.
  • Wallops Flight Facility Causeway Bridge: Secured supplemental funding for replacement of the causeway bridge. Built in 1959, the bridge has fallen into a critical state of disrepair, and Hurricane Ian exacerbated the accelerating rate of deterioration. The bridge is at risk of failure, which would impact all Wallops missions and the many Marylanders who work there.
  • Goddard Greenbelt Parkway Bridge: The bridge over the Baltimore Washington Parkway, which provides employee access to the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, had noted deficiencies even prior to a vehicular accident in 2021 that caused it to close, creating traffic backups during rush hour and safety concerns on the Parkway. The bill includes sufficient funding to repair and reopen the bridge.

In addition the funds the Senator has secured for Maryland, this legislation invests $772.5 billion in non-defense discretionary programs, including $118.7 billion – a 22 percent increase – for VA medical care.  It provides $44.9 billion in emergency assistance to Ukraine and our NATO allies. Additional highlights, as provided by the Appropriations Committee, include:

  • Funding for bipartisan priorities including $58.7 billion for programs authorized by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act; $1.8 billion in new funding to implement the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act of 2022; and $5 billion for the Cost of War Toxic Exposures Fund to implement the landmark PACT Act.
  • Making bold investments in health care and research including $47.5 billion for the National Institutes of Health, $9.2 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, $1.5 billion for ARPA-H (the President’s bold initiative to fight cancer), and $950 million for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.
  • Supporting nutrition programs including a $13.4 billion increase for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, $28.5 billion for Child Nutrition Programs, and $6 billion for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children.
  • Providing housing assistance including $3.6 billion for Homeless Assistance Grants, $2 billion for the Rural Housing Service, $1.5 billion for the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, $1.435 billion for the Housing for the Elderly and Housing for Persons with Disabilities program, and new incremental Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers to support over 11,700 additional low-income households.
  • Investing in education including increasing the maximum Pell Grant award to $7,395, $18.387 billion for Title I-A grants, and $1.2 billion for TRIO to support more than 800,000 low-income first generation students get into college and succeed when they’re there.
  • Supporting child care by investing $7.67 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant, and nearly $12 billion for Head Start.
  • Providing $5 billion for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to help families address the rising cost of energy.