by Guy Page
If the $1.7 trillion Omnibus Spending Bill proposed yesterday by Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Patrick Leahy (D-VT) passes as written, the Lake Champlain Basin Program will have a new name: the “Patrick Leahy Lake Champlain Basin Program.”
The lake preservation, study and cleanup program has been the recipient of generous federal funding, overseen by Leahy, since its founding about 20 years ago. This won’t be the organization’s first homage to the Leahy family. Its Burlington waterfront headquarters, the ECHO Center for Lake Champlain, was renamed the Echo, Leahy Center several years ago. The upgrade of the UVM aquatic research boat Melosira, moored at the Echo Center, will be named the Marcelle Melosira, after Leahy’s wife Marcelle.
The bill also provides the program with $35 million each year until 2027.
As reported in yesterday’s Vermont Daily Chronicle, the bill also features:
- $858 billion in defense spending
- $772.5 billion for non-defense discretionary programs, including $118.7 billion – a 22 percent increase – for VA medical care
- $44.9 billion in emergency assistance to Ukraine and NATO allies. For a top-line review of major spending items prepared by Sen. Leahy’s committee, see Highlights Document FY23.
Other highlights of the package include:
Funding for bipartisan priorities including $58.7 billion for programs authorized by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act; $1.8 billion in new funding to implement the bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act of 2022; and $5 billion for the Cost of War Toxic Exposures Fund to implement the landmark PACT Act.
- Making bold investments in health care and research including $47.5 billion for the National Institutes of Health, $9.2 billion for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, $1.5 billion for ARPA-H (the President’s bold initiative to fight cancer), and $950 million for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.
- Supporting nutrition programs including a $13.4 billion increase for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, $28.5 billion for Child Nutrition Programs, and $6 billion for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children.
- Providing housing assistance including $3.6 billion for Homeless Assistance Grants, $2 billion for the Rural Housing Service, $1.5 billion for the HOME Investment Partnerships Program, $1.435 billion for the Housing for the Elderly and Housing for Persons with Disabilities program, and new incremental Section 8 Housing Choice Vouchers to support over 11,700 additional low-income households.
- Investing in education including increasing the maximum Pell Grant award to $7,395, $18.387 billion for Title I-A grants, and $1.2 billion for TRIO to support more than 800,000 low-income first generation students get into college and succeed when they’re there.
- Supporting child care by investing $7.67 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant, and nearly $12 billion for Head Start.
- Providing $5 billion for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to help families address the rising cost of energy.
- A record $700 million for combatting violence against women.