Vice Chair Crowley Statement on Passage of Government Spending Bill
Bill Includes Extension of 9/11 Health and Compensation Act
Crowley Remains Concerned About Lack of Action on Puerto Rico’s Debt Crisis
(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Rep. Joe Crowley (D-Queens, the Bronx), Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus, released the following statement on his vote in support of legislation that funds the government for fiscal year 2016. The House passed the spending bill by a vote of 316 to 113.
“This isn’t a perfect bill, but it is a compromise that avoids another disastrous Republican government shutdown and makes key investments in critical areas like education, renewable energy, and health care. The bill brings many benefits to New Yorkers, including tax benefits for mass transit commuters, increased funding for housing and rental assistance programs, and funding to help protect parks and water resources in Queens and the Bronx.
“I am especially relieved that included in this bill is the much-needed extension of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act. Fourteen years after the September 11th attacks, thousands of our brave heroes are suffering from severe illnesses as a result of their service. It brings great reassurance to these heroes, and their families, that Congress will finally do right by them.
“I am, however, disappointed that this legislation did not address the urgent need to act on Puerto Rico’s debt crisis, and I urge my Republican colleagues to move swiftly to help our fellow Americans. I will continue to make this issue a top priority in the weeks and months ahead.”
The bill’s investments in priorities include the following:
- Renewable Energy: Provides a major boost to renewable energy by extending the wind Production Tax Credit for five years (through 2019), and extending the solar Investment Tax Credit for five years (through 2021), while phasing both credits down somewhat over time. Extending the solar tax credit is estimated to create 61,000 jobs in 2017 alone. It is also estimated that the wind industry will grow to over 100,000 jobs over four years with the renewed wind tax credit.
- Energy Efficiency and Clean Energy R&D: Provides an 8 percent increase over 2015 for R&D activities in the pursuit of new clean energy and energy efficiency technologies.
- Overall Education: The bill restores the $2.5 billion cut in education that the GOP had proposed and also makes critical additional investments of $1.4 billion above 2015, in such areas as Title I that serves 24 million at-risk students.
- Early Learning: Investing in Head Start produces results – and this bill invests nearly $400 million more than the House GOP bill and nearly $600 million more than 2015 in this vital initiative. The bill also provides $250 million for Preschool Development Grants, assisting 18 states across the country.
- Medical Research: Medical research at NIH has been underfunded for the last several years. This bill provides $900 million more than the House GOP bill and $2 billion more than 2015 for this life-saving research.
- Infrastructure: The popular TIGER grants are being used across the country to repair infrastructure and contribute to economic growth. The House GOP bill had slashed TIGER grants by 80 percent, killing jobs, but this bill restores the funding to the 2015 level of $500 million.
- Law Enforcement: The bill provides $187 million for COPS hiring grants, $7 million above the 2015 level and $187 million above the House GOP bill, which had eliminated the hiring grants. The bill also provides $80 million for the Community Policing Initiative, including $22.5 million for body-worn cameras and $15 million for Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation grants, an increase over the House bill.
Congressman Crowley is the nine-term representative from the 14th Congressional District of New York, which includes sections of Queens and the Bronx. He is a member of the powerful Ways and Means Committee and serves as Vice Chair of the Democratic Caucus in the House of Representatives.