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Rubio Secures Key Funding to Address School Safety, South Florida Algal Blooms
Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Senate today approved the final conference agreement to the FY19 Minibus appropriations package (H.R. 6157) that includes funding for the Department of Defense (DoD) and Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, Related Agencies (LHHS). The bill includes key measures advanced by Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, to address harmful algal blooms and supports mental health programs at low-income schools. Rubio also included a measure to prevent Americans’ DNA from going to Chinese and Russian labs for analysis. These are in addition to the priorities Rubio previously secured for DoD and LHHS.
“I applaud the full Senate’s passage of this funding bill that includes provisions that I championed on behalf of Florida. With the harmful algal blooms impacting both coasts of Florida, my amendment provides funding for additional assistance to identify health impacts from the toxins,” Rubio said. “Furthermore, this funding bill provides a much needed pay raise for our troops and further prioritizes Florida’s military infrastructure and defense industry.”
Key Florida Provisions:
- U.S. Southern Command: Headquartered in Doral, Florida, SOUTHCOM was the only combatant command to submit to Congress an unfunded requirements list. This bill provides nearly $70 million for the command.
- Eastern Gulf Test and Training Range: Provides an additional $10 million for the Gulf Range Enhancement program. The Eglin Gulf Test and Training Range, which covers the eastern third of the Gulf of Mexico, is used by the Department of Defense for training and testing of air armaments. There is an urgent need to move operations from the congested areas in the north parts of the water ranges south of Eglin Air Force Base to the less-used areas in the water ranges southeast of Tyndall Air Force Base and into the Eglin Water Test Area. In addition, the planned T&E of long-range weapons in the Eglin Gulf Test and Training Range will require additional range instrumentation to provide coverage over the entire flight-path of these weapons. The Gulf Range Enhancement program is a current investment for enhanced capability supporting future mission use of the Eglin Gulf Test and Training Range.
- Restoration & Modernization of facility at Eglin AFB: Provides an additional $100 million for the restoration and modernization of facilities at Eglin Air Force Base.
- Test Range Enhancements: Provides an additional $150 million to increase testing range space and availability and ensure continued independent assessments of weapon system capabilities. The Eglin Gulf Test and Training Range, which covers the eastern third of the Gulf of Mexico, is used by the Department of Defense for training and testing of air armaments. There is an urgent need to move operations from the congested areas in the north parts of the water ranges south of Eglin Air Force Base to the less-used areas in the water ranges southeast of Tyndall Air Force Base and into the Eglin Water Test Area. In addition, the planned T&E of long-range weapons in the Eglin Gulf Test and Training Range will require additional range instrumentation to provide coverage over the entire flight-path of these weapons. The Gulf Range Enhancement program is a current investment for enhanced capability supporting future mission use of the Eglin Gulf Test and Training Range.
Labor, Health and Human, Education, Related Agencies:
- $1 million in Centers for Disease, Control and Prevention (CDC) funding to enhance the public health response to algae blooms.
- $1 million in funding for schools to be used towards telehealth services for mental health in schools to better assist students struggling with mental health issues or substance use disorder. The funds can also be used to train teachers so they’re better equipped to identify and help students that may be dealing with mental health issues.
- $10 million grant program to strengthen partnerships between universities and low-income school districts to increase school-based mental health professionals.
- $2.34 billion for targeted Alzheimer’s research
- $2 billion increase for NIH to continue to improve diagnosis and treatment of devastating diseases
- $3.8 billion for opioid crisis; since 2015, we have increased funding to fight the opioid crisis by nearly 1300%
- $10 million to continue monitoring the health impacts of Zika (CDC monitoring of Zika would have ended in October without this language)
- $25 million Increased funding for health care fraud detection, which is plaguing Florida.
- Ensures that HHS has the resources necessary to respond to an emergency such as a hurricane or a terrorist attack, including hospital preparedness, medical corps response teams, the strategic national stockpile of necessary medical supplies, and vaccines to potential chemical attacks, like anthrax.
- Charter Schools – Increased funding for charter schools by $45 million to a total of $445 million.
- English Language Acquisition – $737 million of English language learners and report language to encourage the states to pursue these funds, including the availability of hurricane relief funds that can assist these schools districts.
- Magnet Schools – Secured level funding for Magnet Program at $105 million.
- School Safety and mental health – $95 million for school counselors and mental health interventions, including increased funding for Dept. of Ed’s Project SERV, which addresses immediate needs after a traumatic event.
- $50 million for the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program
- $160 million for Apprenticeship expanded grant opportunities
- Mandates the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) report on whether CMS has provided payments for Medicare or Medicaid beneficiaries’ DNA to be sent to Chinese or Russian labs for analysis.