Norcross on 2018 Appropriations Act
WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Donald Norcross (NJ-01) today issued the following statement on the fiscal year 2018 Omnibus Appropriations Act:
“This $1.3 trillion budget was negotiated behind closed doors and released at the eleventh hour with no time for real consideration. After five Continuing Resolutions and two government shutdowns, Republicans still waited until the last minute to fund vital programs for South Jersey’s families and provide predictability for our nation’s military. This is no way to conduct business and the American people deserve better.
“Americans want and deserve more jobs, higher wages, safe neighborhoods and schools, and a secure nation. This bill only takes minor steps to address our gun violence crisis – just as millions of Americans prepare to call for more meaningful action in marches on Saturday.
“My top priority in Congress is raising wages for hardworking men and women, but this bill allows management to take money away from tipped workers. It’s outrageous for employees in the service sector to be forced to hand over their hard-earned tips. What we really must do is raise wages for all workers.
“Republican leaders are also following President Trump’s morally bankrupt leadership by providing money for deportations and border security without addressing the status of millions of vulnerable children.
“For years, I’ve been fighting for provisions that safeguard New Jersey’s Joint Base, which is strategically critical to our national security and to our state’s economy. Thankfully, with no BRAC cuts, higher military pay and more KC-46s tankers at our Joint Base, I continue to feel optimistic about the future of our base. I also am relieved appropriators are heeding advice from the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force and increasing funding to help those struggling with the disease of addiction.
“I am disappointed that this bill fails to do anything to address the looming retirement security and pension crisis, but I am hopeful that my colleagues and I on the Joint Select Committee on Pensions will work together on solutions for workers and businesses. Going forward, Congress must find a better, more inclusive process that focuses on what we can do together to lift up America’s working families.”
Norcross is New Jersey’s only member of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce and fought for funding to modernize our infrastructure. Included in the bill is $2.5 billion in new funding for highway grants, a $1 billion increase for the TIGER grants program, a $232 million increase for transit systems, a $789 million increase for water resources projects, and a $446.6 million increase for Amtrak. The Omnibus contains hundreds of millions of dollars in funding that can be used for the Gateway project. Unfortunately, tipped workers are being hurt at a time when we should be raising wages for all.
Norcross wants to make college more affordable and is encouraged that the bill prioritizes public service loan forgiveness programs, restores a $1.3 billion cut made to the Pell grant program, and increases the maximum Pell Award by $175. It also includes an extra $300 million in Title I funding for K-12 public schools and protects that money from being used as vouchers. The National Science Foundation is receiving $7.47 billion, so necessary STEM education grants continue, like the recent $1.2 million award that will help South Jersey build a 21st century workforce.
Securing Our Nation & Neighborhoods
The Omnibus stops a new base closure round, which protects South Jersey’s Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. Additionally, the Omnibus authorizes 18 KC-46 tankers, which is three more than requested in President Trump’s budget proposal and which Norcross fought for as a member of the House Armed Services Committee.
The bill provides a 2.4% pay increase for the military. It also includes $705.8 million for the Israeli Missile Defense Cooperative program, which is $105 million more than the 2017 enacted level.
The Omnibus includes $275 million for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program and doubles the funding for the Non-profit Security Grant Program.
The Omnibus provides a $7 billion increase for the Department of Veterans Affairs, with significant increases for medical services, mental health services, medical and prosthetic research, and opioid abuse services.
Fighting the Opioid Epidemic
Norcross is Vice-Chair of the Bipartisan Task Force to Combat the Heroin Epidemic and fought for funds to help Americans struggling with the disease of addiction.
The Omnibus includes a $3.2 billion increase for programs to respond to the opioid crisis, including a $2.7 billion increase for prevention, treatment, research, training and support. These funds include $145 million that can be used on buying Narcan for first responders, which has saved countless lives in our region and across the country.
Contact: Ally Kehoe, Communications Director