Congressman Charlie Crist (D-St. Petersburg) released the following statement in support of the Omnibus Appropriations Act, which avoids a harmful government shutdown and keeps the government in operation for the rest of fiscal year 2017, ending Oct. 1st
. The bill includes funding for many programs Crist advocated for on behalf of Florida families after the Trump Administration sought to underfund or eliminate them.
"This is how government should work. Both parties and chambers, working together, negotiating a deal that protects programs and services Americans depend on," said Crist.
"People should always come before politics. This legislative deal reflects that principal. We should continue this nonpartisan approach to governing as we begin debating next year's budget."
Congressman Crist advocated for the following programs during the appropriations process, which were included in the omnibus after being at risk of elimination or deep cuts by the Trump Administration's budget proposal:
- Environmental Protection Agency – The EPA protects the environment and public health, key to Florida’s natural beauty and economy, and as ground zero for climate change. The omnibus protects 99 percent of the EPA's budget, which would have been gutted by 31% under the administration's proposal.
- National Institutes of Health (NIH) – The NIH is the world's largest medical research agency, saving lives through breakthroughs in disease prevention and treatment. The omnibus increases NIH funding by $2 billion, which would have suffered a 20% cut under the administration's budget.
- National Sea Grant Program – Florida is home to a "model" Sea Grant Program. These national, university-based programs boost the economies of coastal communities, assisting with aquaculture industry and resilience to sea level rise. The omnibus provides $63 million for this program that the administration sought to eliminate.
- Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) – CDBG funds local community development activities, affordable housing, anti-poverty programs, and infrastructure development, including money for Meals on Wheels programs in Pinellas County. The omnibus provides over $3 billion in funding for CDBG, which the administration sought to eliminate.
- Army Corps of Engineers – The Corps plans, builds, and operates critical infrastructure projects, including the Pinellas County Shore Protection Project, Port of Tampa deepening project, and Everglades restoration. The omnibus increases Corps funding to $6 billion, as opposed to the 17% cut proposed by the administration.
- Risk MAP Program – The Risk Mapping, Assessment, and Planning (Risk MAP) program is utilized by FEMA to develop Accurate Flood Insurance Rate Maps to help communities better understand flood risks and prepare. That’s vital to Pinellas with the threat of rising sea levels. The omnibus provides $177.5 million for this critical program that would have been eliminated by the administration.
- Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) – CPB supports public and educational broadcasting, including programming on PBS, NPR, and Florida Public Broadcast Service stations. The omnibus maintains funding for CPB at $445 million, a program that would have been eliminated under the Trump Administration.
- National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) – The NEA helps funds museums, music, schools, and the arts across the country, including programs across Pinellas County. The omnibus increases funding over 2016 levels to $150 million, opposed to the administration's proposal to eliminate the NEA completely.
- Title X Family Planning – This is the only federal program dedicated to assisting low-income patients with breast and cervical cancer screenings, HIV testing, STD treatments and family planning. In 2014, nearly 200,000 Florida women were served by Title X–supported centers. The omnibus maintains Title X funding at $286 million despite family planning funding being under constant attack by the administration.
- National Science Foundation (NSF) – The NSF is the only federal agency that supports essential education and research across all science and engineering fields, including $16 million provided to the University of South Florida in FY16 alone. The omnibus increased NSF funding from FY16 to $7.47 billion.
- Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Funds – CDFIs provide capital in underserved communities, including to minority- and women-owned small businesses in Florida. The omnibus increases its funding to $248 million. The fund would have been eliminated by the administration.
- Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Program – This is a federal public-private partnership assists job-creating small and medium-sized manufacturers, including several companies in Pinellas County. The omnibus funds MEP at $130 million, a program the administration aimed to eliminate.