Omnibus funding bill includes $13.6 billion in emergency aid for Ukraine and NATO plus funds for projects in Colorado – by Jan Wondra

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It took a global crisis to garner bipartisan support for an omnibus funding bill for fiscal year 2022 (FY22), but the US Senate finally did.

The huge funding bill includes $13.6 billion in emergency aid for Ukraine and NATO allies and support for top Colorado priorities, such as the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) , Arkansas Valley Conduit, Regional Transportation District (RTD), and Payment in Place Tax Program (PILT).

“From the COVID-19 pandemic to natural disasters fueled by climate change, Coloradons have risen to challenge after challenge over the past year,” said U.S. Senator from Colorado, Michael Bennet. “Investments in this bill will help communities in Colorado get back to normal, build climate resilience and cope with rising costs.”

“With this bill, we will provide essential humanitarian, economic and security assistance to the people of Ukraine as they continue to fight for their lives and their country. We must continue to punish Putin and his accomplices for this lawless war. The people of Ukraine are resilient and we must support them in their quest for a sovereign and democratic nation,” Bennett said.

Bennett is a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, secured Intelligence Authorization Act (IAA) provisions in the omnibus to strengthen US competitiveness in key emerging technologies.

Colorado priorities supported by Bennet included in the FY22 omnibus bill:

  • $10.05 million for Arkansas Valley Conduit, an increase of $2 million from fiscal year 2021 (FY21). The Arkansas Valley Conduit (AVC) is a 130 mile pipeline with branch lines that would serve up to 40 communities and 50,000 people east of Pueblo. It will supply filtered water ready for treatment from the Pueblo Reservoir.
  • $148 million for NREL’s facilities and infrastructure budget, an increase of $18 million from FY21.
  • $1.87 billion for agricultural programs, up $44 million from FY21 levels. This funding will continue to support a variety of agricultural, conservation and emergency loan programs and will help farmers and American breeders.
  • $525 million for Payments In Lieu of Taxes (LTIPs) to offset lost property tax revenue for counties with significant federal lands.
  • $28.9 million to return the RTD deposit to secure a federal loan to develop Union Station in Denver. Along with Colorado U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper and Colorado U.S. Representative Ed Perlmutter, Bennet secured language that compels the Department of Transportation to return the RTD filing.
  • $5.7 billion, a 5.5% increase over FY21, for the Forest Service to enhance forest restoration and fire risk reduction efforts and increase the staff throughout the year to carry out this work.
  • $900 million to the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
  • $904 million to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) for conservation operations, an increase of $71 million from FY21.
  • $3.8 billion for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to help Coloradans cover energy costs, an increase of $50 million from FY21.
  • $41.5 million for assistance to coal communities through the Economic Development Administration (EDA), an increase of $8 million from FY21.
  • $11 billion for Head Start programs, an increase of $289 million from FY21.
  • $246 million for COPS hiring grants, which will put about 1,700 more police officers on the streets.
  • $6.5 billion for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), including $101.6 million for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the implementation of 9-8-8. Bennet co-sponsored the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act to designate 9-8-8 as the national hotline for suicide prevention and mental health crises. In July 2021, he introduced bipartisan legislation to expand and strengthen the capacity of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and mental health crisis centers.
  • A 2.7% wage increase for the 2.1 million uniformed US military and approximately 750,000 civilian employees of the Department of Defense.
  • $97.5 billion, an increase of 8.7% over FY21, for VA Medical Care, which will help provide essential health services to 9.2 million veterans.
  • $1.5 billion for the HOME Investment Partnerships Program — an increase of $150 million from FY21 — to support the construction of more than 10,000 affordable buy-a-home units and the rental and rehabilitation of more than 4,000 owner-occupied homes.
  • $10 million for constoria university space technology research and development.

A complete list of Colorado priorities supported by Bennet in the omnibus is available here.

The legislation also reauthorizes the Violence Against Women Act, which provides essential support for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

On Thursday, Bennett and Sen. John Hickenlooper announced they had secured nearly $121 million for 64 Colorado projects in the omnibus through the congressional-led spending process. “Local Colorado communities are driving these federal investments. These funds will accelerate much-needed projects across the state,” Hickenlooper said.

These programs include funding for these regional efforts:

$3,575,000 for the Leadville Justice Center,

$1,601,000 for the expansion of the Fremont and Custer County 911 regional telecommunications and data program

$1,460,000 for Gunnison Valley Rural Transportation Authority Fleet Expansion

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