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Congresswoman Escobar Votes for Package of Appropriations Bills for FY2023

Today, Congresswoman Veronica Escobar (TX-16) voted for the passage of H.R. 8294, the Fiscal Year 2023 Six-Bill Appropriations Minibus. The minibus includes appropriations bills from Transportation, Housing and Urban Development; Agriculture, Rural Development, FDA; Energy and Water Development; Financial Services and General Government; Interior-Environment; and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs. This appropriations package makes a $563 billion investment in communities across the United States. Congresswoman Escobar championed twelve amendments and eleven Community Project Funding (CPF) requests that were included in the legislation. 

“I’m proud to vote for a comprehensive funding package that fights inflation and contains wins for El Paso, such as $15 million in construction funding for a new fire station at Fort Bliss and codifying gaming rights for the Tiguas,” said Congresswoman Escobar. “I’m excited to begin the process to secure funding for our projects. These funding investments are transformative and taken together, this package supports families by lowering the cost of living, creating good-paying jobs, and supporting small businesses.” 

Congresswoman Escobar’s Community Project Funding requests include: 

$1,750,000 to Construct a Solar Covered Parking Facility at El Paso International Airport  

This project designs and constructs a solar-covered parking facility located directly in front of the terminal in short-term parking. The 2.5-acre system is expected to generate 1.5MW of solar which will offset the 2.1MW consumed by the Terminal annually. 

$1,000,000 to Build a 34-acre foot Desilting Basin for Stormwater Infrastructure 

This project constructs a 34-acre-foot desilting basin strategically placed to detain peak flows and sediment affecting the RV Channel (located south of the project site). The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in conjunction with El Paso Water, would construct a desilting basin that will detain peak flows and sediment affecting the RV Channel, street crossings, residential, commercial, and agricultural land. This project will also prevent erosion and collapse of downstream structures some of which have already been reconstructed due to failure caused by the accumulation of sediment and will protect the existing structures from future damage. 

$100,000 to Conduct an Appraisal Study for Franklin Canal Infrastructure 

This project would have the Bureau of Reclamation, in conjunction with El Paso County Water District No. 1, conduct an appraisal of a 1-mile section of the Franklin Canal in Central El Paso, Texas.  

$1,925,000 to Construct a New Police Station, Courthouse, and Emergency Community Shelter Facility for the Town of Anthony 

This project constructs a new police station, courthouse, and emergency community shelter facility. Currently, the police department and courthouse are housed in the same building as the town hall and other public services and do not have an emergency shelter. The current facility is too small to sustain all these essential services and building a new facility for the police department, courthouse, and an emergency community shelter complex will allow Anthony to keep up with the community’s growth, safety, and tourism. 

$500,000 to Launch a Business Retention and Expansion Effort Program for El Paso County 

This project launches a business retention and expansion effort for businesses along El Paso County’s historic Mission Trail, which stretches from the eastern edge of the City of El Paso, includes the City of Socorro, the San Elizario Historic District, and the Town of Tornillo. The program would provide training and counseling for entrepreneurs as well as skills development for employees to help bolster the tourism industry in El Paso County. Entrepreneurs targeted by the program would include small business owners situated along the Mission Trail corridor including heritage tourism and ecotourism operators. 

$1,300,000 to Create an Animal Wellness Clinic for El Paso County 

The funding renovates an existing property into an animal wellness clinic that will offer high-volume spay and neuter programs, as well as vaccinations and microchips to track responsible ownership. In El Paso County there are few organizations that offer low to no-cost versions of these procedures and this project would directly address this issue. 

$4,000,000 to Build a Senior Meal and Community Kitchen in El Paso County  

This project, which was requested by El Paso County and will be constructed with El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Food Bank, builds a full-scale community kitchen using an existing kitchen concept at the main food bank with the capacity to prepare, serve and deliver 10,000+ meals daily to elderly, disabled homebound, and youth populations as well as meet any emergent meal needs of the community during natural disasters or public health emergencies such as a pandemic. Once completed, the community kitchen along with other food bank services will serve as a teaching facility providing training and workforce development in culinary skills, warehousing, forklift operation, CDL driving and other vocational trades in coordination with the County of El Paso's Reentry/Transitional Center. 

$4,000,000 to Expand Water and Sewer Systems for the Village of Vinton 

This project provides for the expansion of a looped water and sewer system with a wholesale supply of treated potable water and treatment of wastewater for the local business sector. The proposed system includes approximately 21,600 linear feet of 8-to-12-inch waterline, one master meter, 44 fire hydrants, and approximately 65 first-time commercial service connections. On the wastewater side, the system would include 13,980 linear feet of 8-inch sewer line and the decommissioning of 59 onsite sewage facilities. The implementation of adequate water and sewer infrastructure will address public safety and health concerns that include fire flow and environmental health.  

$750,000 to Fund a Planning Study to Improve Land Border Crossings and Pedestrian Connectivity through the Texas A&M Transportation Institute in El Paso 

This project is for a planning study to improve land border crossing transit and pedestrian connectivity to business districts in the El Paso region. Land border crossings are a critical economic activity link for U.S. retail businesses and residents in their immediate surroundings and in the lower income neighborhoods they often connect to, as well as for businesses located elsewhere in the community. This study will complement existing community efforts by identifying specific improvements needed to connect transit and pedestrian traffic between the land border crossings with the highest pedestrian traffic and the business, medical and residential districts in their surroundings as well as other major points of attraction throughout the El Paso region. 

$2,442,706 to Construct a New Casa de Los Abuelitos Facility through the Opportunity Center for the Homeless 

This project constructs a new Abuelitos facility as a permanent home for El Paso’s elderly and frail homeless male population. The facility will be comprised of both transitional (shelter) and permanent beds and will specifically target homeless men who are harder to serve, those who are frail, in need of additional support services, and most at risk in a normal shelter setting. Utilizing a vacant lot at 150 Brown Street, this proposal involves the development of a new housing facility with 31 beds that will be designed to address the needs of a more elderly and frail population that will include ADA-compliant showers, restrooms, etc. The facility will also include a kitchen/dining area, office space, laundry room, and other essential components. 

$1,735,000 to Fund a Design and Environmental Study of a Transit-Oriented Development for the Town of Horizon City 

This project would be used for the initial design and environmental study of a Transit-Oriented Development in Horizon City. The Transit Oriented Development is intended to provide opportunities for Horizon City residents to live, work and play in a compact area. By creating this development, Horizon City intends to also strengthen its resiliency by diversifying its tax base and revenues. The transit plaza will serve as a hub for transit routes that will provide access to residents in the TOD area, as well as Horizon City as a whole, to educational facilities in east El Paso County and at the University of Texas at El Paso campus and the Rio Grande campus of El Paso Community College. 

Congresswoman Escobar’s amendments in H.R. 8294: 

Division A – Transportation, Housing and Urban Development 

  • Encourages the Department of Transportation to conduct a study on the potential benefits of public transit like railway between binational communities like El Paso, TX and Ciudad Juarez. 

  • Urges the Department of Housing and Urban Development to establish a Colonia Ombudsman Office. This office would be responsible for helping connect Colonias to federal funding sources and keep an accurate accounting of infrastructure needs in these communities. 

  • Increases funding for the National Infrastructure Investments account by $2,000,000 to ensure RAISE Grant funding is available for infrastructure projects at or immediately surrounding land ports of entry including ports between El Paso and Ciudad Juarez and Staton Street in El Paso. 

  • Encourages the Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity to emphasize the importance in eliminating housing discrimination and promoting economic opportunity in economically disadvantaged communities including El Paso and surrounding communities. 

Division B – Agriculture, Rural Development, and FDA 

  • Stresses upon the Department of Agriculture the need for the Rural Energy for America Program to provide guaranteed loans and grant funding for renewable energy systems to make energy-efficient improvements. 

Division C – Energy and Water Development 

  • Impresses upon the Department of Energy the need to support economic opportunities for tribal communities by using the Tribal Energy Loan Guarantee program to fund energy development projects.  

Division D – Financial Services and General Government 

  • Allocates $2 million to Veterans Business Outreach Center program for further expansion into communities where there is not yet a center such as El Paso.  

  • Increases the Economic Mobility Corps Program by $2 million to continue to provide financial literacy programs to individuals with disabilities and populations in high-poverty areas.  

Division E – Interior and Environment  

  • Highlights the importance of research, surveys, and species and habitat management for funding awarded through the State and Tribal Wildlife Grant Program.   

Division F – Military Construction and Veterans Affairs 

  • Expresses to the Department of Defense the need for more investments in large Mobilization Force Generation Installations, such as Fort Bliss, to maintain and improve the Department’s capability to rapidly and efficiently mobilize forces and resources, conduct training operations, and meet other readiness needs. 

  • Makes clear to the Department of Veterans Affairs the need to include a Sterile Processing Service unit in their budget for the new El Paso VA health center. 

  • Encourages the Department of Veterans Affairs to include food security screening questions in the Solid Start program to ensure new veterans are being connected to appropriate nutrition resources. 

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