Today, Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (TX-16) voted to pass H.R. 7608, the first “minibus” of fiscal year 2021 appropriations bills. H.R. 7608 consists of four appropriations bills: State-Foreign Operations, Agriculture-Rural Development-FDA, Interior-Environment, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs.
This appropriations package makes a $259.5 billion investment in America’s hardworking families, includes two amendments offered by Congresswoman Escobar, and incorporates many of the funding priorities she fought for that are critical to El Paso.
“As we continue to face an unprecedented health and economic crisis, it is imperative for Congress to strengthen our nation by investing in our hardworking families and maintaining America’s strength and influence around the world,” said Congresswoman Escobar. “This appropriations package addresses El Paso’s urgent priorities by providing emergency funding for an international coronavirus response, making future-focused infrastructure investments, strengthening desperately needed nutrition and health programs for our most vulnerable, tackling the climate crisis, and supporting our veterans and military families.”
The first amendment emphasizes the need for a binational coronavirus (COVID-19) testing strategy by urging the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to include recommendations for such a strategy in its review of the international response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The second amendment addresses the lack of water infrastructure in El Paso’s colonias by directing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to, with funds set aside for the construction of water and wastewater projects along the United States-Mexico border, prioritize water infrastructure projects benefiting these underserved communities.
Below are a number of notable wins for American communities, including Texas’ 16th Congressional District, in H.R. 7608:
- Gives FDA legal authority to require the recall of unsafe prescription and over-the-counter drugs
- Restores funding for the World Health Organization, a vital U.S. partner in the fight against COVID-19, which President Trump has threatened to cut off
- Provides full funding for SNAP ($68.277 billion), child nutrition programs ($25.131 billion), and WIC ($5.75 billion)
- Blocks two unconscionable SNAP rules by the Trump administration designed to restrict program eligibility
- $15.17 billion in water infrastructure and other infrastructure programs, including $12.97 billion for the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds, and $546 million to get lead out of drinking water
- $1.45 billion for rural water and waste program loans, and more than $610 million in water and waste grants for clean and reliable drinking water systems and sanitary waste disposal systems
- $990 million for the Rural Broadband ReConnect Program, $435 million above fiscal year 2020
Environment and Climate Change
- $13.83 billion for the Department of the Interior (non-LWCF), $304 million above fiscal year 2020
- $9.38 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency, $318 million above fiscal year 2020
- $521.6 million for EPA’s Clean Air programs and research, $37.9 million above fiscal year 2020
Veterans and Military Families
- Provides $12.5 billion in emergency appropriations for VA to address sharply rising health care costs
- Veterans Medical Care – $90.0 billion, $9.8 billion above fiscal year 2020
- Mental Health Care – $10.3 billion
- Homeless Assistance Programs – $1.9 billion
- Gender-Specific Care for Women – $661 million
- Military Construction Projects – $10.4 billion, with language ensuring these funds cannot be stolen for Trump’s wasteful border wall
- Military Family Housing – $1.49 billion, $22 million above fiscal year 2020
A division-by-division summary is available here and a fact sheet is available here.