e-News 9/28/2018

House Approves Appropriations Package Critical to New Jersey
Funding Headed to Assist Recovery in the Carolinas
Visit to the NIH with families affected by Alzheimer’s
Calling all High School Coders
Salute: Linda and Martin Garry, Angels in Adoption

House Approves Appropriations Package Critical to New Jersey

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives approved, by a bipartisan vote of 361 to 61, the Conference Report to H.R. 6157, the Department of Defense, and the Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations bill for Fiscal Year (FY) 2019.  This Conference Report, which I introduced, includes funding for the Departments of Defense (DOD), Labor (DOL), Health and Human Services (HHS) and Education (DOE), as well as, a number of additional agencies. The legislation is now at the President’s desk waiting to be signed into law.

Notably, with the completion of this package, Congress will have approved 75% of all annual discretionary funding prior to the end of the fiscal year – a critical step in returning to the regular federal funding process, and an achievement that has not occurred in twenty-two years.

You can read the text and view summaries of the legislation here.

You can read my opening statement here and watch here.

You can watch the entire floor debate on the legislation here.

 The Conference Report includes many provisions that are important to New Jersey residents!


Department of Defense

The legislation boosts funding for our Armed Forces to $674.4 billion, an increase of $17.0 billion above the FY 2018 enacted level.  The bill also provides $67.9 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO)/Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) funding for operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. More specifically, the legislation:

Includes $143.2 billion for Military Personnel and Pay to provide for 1,338,100 active-duty troops and 817,700 National Guard and Reserve troops, fully funding the requested 16,400 additional personnel, and the 2.6 percent pay raise.

Contains new funding to allow scientists, engineers and technicians at Picatinny Arsenal, the DoD Joint Center of Excellence for Armaments, to accelerate their urgent work to ensure that our weapons systems overmatch those of our adversaries, including over $300 million in funding to the Armaments Research Development Engineering Center (ARDEC) in Rockaway Township which assists Army, Navy and Special Operations Command.

Provides $148 billion for equipment procurement, including $2.3 billion to procure another 15 KC-46 Pegasus aircraft – the new airborne tanker that will be stationed at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, beginning in FY 2021.

Provides an additional $10 million to allow the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) to hasten their critical work of recovering the remains of military personnel lost in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War and on the Korean Peninsula.

Increases a special account used by the National Guard and Reserve to procure equipment to maintain readiness in key weapon systems and help close equipment interoperability gaps with the active Army and Air Force.  The National Guard Reserve Equipment Account (NGREA) is funded at $1.3 billion, up significantly from two years ago.

Supports Israel by providing $300 million for U.S.-Israel missile defense cooperation and $47 million for U.S.-Israel counter-tunnel technologies.

Increases funding for military readiness programs that ensure our troops are prepared for their missions by providing $243 billion, an increase of $5.4 billion for more training, maintenance, and base operations.

Replenishes our military might by providing $148 billion for equipment procurement, including 13 Navy ships (including 2 Virginia-class submarines), 93 F-35 aircraft, 24 F/A/-18E/F Super Hornets, 18 C-130J aircraft, 58 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, 66 AH-64 Apache helicopters, 10 P-8A Poseidon aircraft and 13 V-22 Osprey aircraft.

Includes $125 million for traumatic brain injury and psychological health research, and $318 million for sexual assault prevention and response. All of these funding levels exceed the President’s budget request.

Labor-Health and Human Services

The bill provides $178 billion in discretionary funding for programs within the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and other related agencies. The bill targets investments in medical research, public health, biodefense, education, and important activities that help promote job readiness.  And, this is the first time in twenty-two years that a separate bill for these programs will be sent to the President to sign! More specifically, the legislation:

Increases National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding by $2 billion to a total of $39.1 billion, supporting research at universities throughout New Jersey, such as 2018 grantees St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, Atlantic Health System in Morristown, Kessler Foundation in West Orange, and Montclair State University.  The bill contains a targeted increase of $100 million at NIH to support the Cancer “Moonshot” which increases support for New Jersey’s only National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey and provides:

$2.34 billion, a $425 million increase, for Alzheimer’s disease research.

$429 million, a $29 million increase, for the Brain Research through Application of Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) initiative.

$376 million, an $86 million increase, for the All of Us research initiative, a historic effort to gather data on over 1 million people.

$140 million, an increase of $40 million, for research to develop a universal influenza vaccine.

$550 million, an increase of $37 million, for research on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria.

$12.6 million for the Gabriella Miller “Kids First” pediatric cancer research initiative.

Directs historic levels of funding, over $6.6 billion to programs across the bill to fight the opioid abuse crisis, felt by many communities throughout New Jersey.

Provides $10.1 billion for Head Start, a $200 million increase, supporting local Head Start programs.

Increases the maximum “year round” Pell Grant award by $100 to $6,195 to assist students attending colleges and universities throughout our state.

Supports senior nutrition programs by providing $907 million, of which $251 million is for Meals on Wheels.

Contains $1.5 billion for Community Health Centers.  These health centers, such as the Zufall Health Centers in Dover, Morristown, West Orange, Flemington, Hackettstown, Newton, Somerville, provide care to underserved communities in every county of New Jersey including Essex, Morris, Passaic, and Sussex.

Includes $3.7 billion for Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). This vital program helps low income families afford heating and energy services. The President's budget sought to eliminate this program.

Provides a total of $12.1 billion in discretionary appropriations for the Department of Labor (DOL), supporting robust funding for job training programs and funding for labor enforcement and benefit protection agencies.

Contains $300 million for Veterans Employment and Training Service (VETS), which is $5 million above FY 2018 level. This includes $50 million for the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program and $3.5 million for a new initiative to connect transitioning service members to apprenticeship opportunities.

Supports first-generation college students prepare for, enter, and complete college by increasing funding to TRIO and GEAR UP programs by $50 million and $10 million, respectively, bringing TRIO programs to a total of $1.06 billion and GEAR UP to a total of $360 million.

Supports special education by including $12.4 billion for IDEA special education grants to states, an increase of nearly $87 million, to ensure students with disabilities have access to free and appropriate public education.

Directs $840 million for Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunities Grants (SEOG), which the President proposed eliminating in his budget request and $1.3 billion for Federal Work Study Programs, which is $800 million above President’s request. Both programs are critical for the County College of Morris, Passaic County Community College, Sussex County Community College and Essex County College, as they help students meet the cost of postsecondary education.

Includes $1.9 billion for Career, Technical and Adult Education programs, an increase of nearly $95 million, to prepare our workforce for high-skilled and high-demand jobs.

Funding Headed to Assist Recovery in the Carolinas

In separate legislation, also considered on Wednesday, the House approved $1.68 billion in emergency relief funding related to Hurricane Florence. These initial funds are targeted to the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Fund for the Community Development Block Grant - Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) programs. This funding will support Hurricane Florence recovery efforts from catastrophic wind and flooding that caused many deaths and tremendous damage.

Below is my statement I made on the House floor in support of this critical aid package:

Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 302.

Hurricane Florence struck North and South Carolina last week leading to loss of many lives and incredible hardship for thousands of families.

Our thoughts are with those devastated by the storm – particularly those who lost homes, their livelihoods, and loved ones.

My thanks to the House Appropriations leadership, and especially our dedicated appropriations staff, for their quick action to provide the initial Supplemental appropriations included in this legislative package, as they did for Hurricanes Harvey, Irene and Maria victims with three Supplemental Appropriations last year.

I yield the balance of my time.


Visit to the NIH with Families Affected by Alzheimer’s

On Tuesday, I was pleased to visit the National Institutes of Health (NIH) with members of the national Alzheimer’s Association. I was accompanied by a number of New Jersey residents, including, Robyn Kohn-Tenner of Wayne and Randy Lerner of Livingston.

We had the opportunity to visit the world class research facilities in Bethesda, MD and meet face to face with the individuals leading the cutting edge Alzheimer’s research including Dr. Richard Hodes, Director of the National Institute on Aging, and Dr. Walter Koroshetz, Director of the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and those conducting clinical trials and genetic research.

The visit allowed New Jersey families, who face the challenges of Alzheimer’s, to share their stories with the experts at the NIH and see, firsthand, their groundbreaking work. With 5 million people suffering from Alzheimer’s, it is vital that the NIH continues this research to find treatments, and ultimately a cure for this disease which has devastated so many families.

As a member of the Congressional Task Force on Alzheimer’s disease, I have long been a proponent of funding for Alzheimer’s research conducted at the NIH.

You can learn more about Alzheimer's disease and related dementias by visiting the National Institute on Aging website here.


Calling all High School Coders

My annual “Congressional App Challenge” for high school students in the 11th Congressional District is underway!  It’s a competition aimed at encouraging students to learn how to code by creating their own applications.

Intended to highlight the value of computer science and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education, the App Challenge gives local students a national platform to display their skills as coders and engineers.  In order to flourish in the rapidly evolving technology economy, we must ensure our students are exposed to the importance of STEM education and real world applications of their knowledge.

The Congressional App Challenge will last until October 15, 2018, and is open to all U.S. high school students in New Jersey’s 11th Congressional District. Challenge participants are invited, either as individuals or as teams, to create and submit their own software application (“app”) for mobile, tablet, or other computing devices on a platform of their choice. A panel of local computer science professionals will judge the apps, and the winners will have the honor of being recognized by Congress.

I look forward to viewing the submissions of students from our district and urge all students to take advantage of this exceptional opportunity.

To enter, students should follow the rules and submission steps listed on the competition website here.


Salute: Linda and Martin Garry of Boonton, who were honored this week by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute as “Angels in Adoption”.  Linda and Garry were foster parents and adopted their foster children, providing a permanent, safe, and loving home. Linda and her son Sean were in Washington this week and had the opportunity to visit my office.  Thank you Linda and Garry for being tireless advocates for children in need of a family!