WASHINGTON- U.S. Senator John Boozman (R-AR), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies (MilCon-VA) subcommittee, secured provisions in the omnibus that stand to deliver benefits to the Natural State.
“Congress has an obligation to fund the government. Passing the appropriations bills ensures we are investing in programs that support the needs of Americans. I’m proud to craft legislation that fully funds the VA MISSION Act and electronic health record modernization programs while supporting new initiatives to reduce and prevent veteran suicide,” Boozman said. “I’m pleased Congress approved resources for programs important to Arkansas.”
Boozman authored the section of the bill that funds military construction and veterans affairs. He also secured resources for several Arkansas-related priorities:
- Air Force Training: $8 million to support training at Razorback Range.
- Pine Bluff Arsenal: Over $30 million for munitions manufacturing.
- Fort Chaffee: $15 million for the construction of the Arkansas National Guard Readiness Training Center which will provide greater support for training exercises and help ensure Arkansas guardsmen continue to be some of the best.
- 188th Wing: $2.6 million for the Energy Resilience and Conservation Investment Program renewable energy project.
- Department of Defense Research: Funding for collaborative research in which Arkansas companies are engaged, including more than $34 million for silicon carbide research to make smaller components for more sophisticated modern weapons.
- National Center for Toxicological Research: $66.7 million to support the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) research to promote and protect public health conducted at the National Center for Toxicological Research. This facility is located in Jefferson County.
- Rural Broadband: $635 million to help close the digital divide and invest in rural broadband through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s ReConnect Program.
- Rural Development: Expanding business development and job training opportunities in rural areas, including $2.8 million for the Appropriate Technology Transfer for Rural Access (ATTRA) program which connects Arkansas agricultural producers to information that helps them improve their operations. ATTRA administers the Armed to Farm program that assists veterans in transition to civilian life by training them for a career in farming. ATTRA has a regional headquarters located in Fayetteville.
- High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program (HIDTA): $290 million to support effective and innovative drug control efforts by federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement agencies operating in HIDTA areas. In Arkansas this includes Benton, Jefferson, Pulaski and Washington counties.
- Veterans Treatment Courts: Support for critical components of our judicial system that offer an alternative treatment to jail for individuals suffering from drug and alcohol addiction. Veterans treatment courts received $25 million to help break the cycle of addiction.
- Law Enforcement Grants: $484 million for the Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne JAG) program which provides federal, state and local governments the tools to prevent and combat crime and keep their communities safe. In Arkansas, Byrne JAG helps fund multi-jurisdictional programs like Drug Task Forces.
- SRF WIN Funding: $5 million is included to help meet underserved or unmet water infrastructure needs, a program Boozman-authored last Congress to create an innovative approach to modernizing critical water infrastructure.
- Community Health Centers (CHC): In Arkansas, there are more than 130 CHC facilities that help nearly 200,000 people get the medical, dental, vision and behavioral health care services they need. The Senate allocates $1.68 billion for these health facilities.
- Delta Regional Authority (DRA): The DRA works to improve economic opportunity for residents of the Delta region through targeted investments. The bill includes more than $30 million for the DRA which supports grants to the region and funding for basic public infrastructure development and transportation improvements.
- Small Business Development: More than $30 million is included for programs that support small business development such as the Federal and State Technology (FAST) Partnership Program, Women’s Business Centers and Regional Innovation Clusters program.
- McClellan-Kerr Arkansas River Navigation System (MKARNS): The bill includes report language discussing the importance of the MKARNS inland waterway deepening and encourages the Army Corps of Engineers to provide funds for non-structural activities, such as channel deepening, when funding is sufficient to accommodate such projects.
- National Feral Swine Damage Management Program: Increases funding to the National Feral Swine Damage Management Program under the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to reduce adverse ecological and economic impacts caused by feral swine across Arkansas and the nation.
- Community Development Block Grant: The bill provides $3.5 billion for the Community Development Block Grant program, the federal government’s largest and most widely available source of financial assistance supporting state and local government-directed neighborhood revitalization, housing rehabilitation and economic development activities. Grants are used to implement plans intended to address housing, community development and economic development needs, as determined by local officials.
- Contract Tower Program: The bill funds this program—which provides enhanced safety, improved air traffic control services and significant Federal Aviation Administration cost savings—at $173 million. This program benefits aviation safety by allowing small commercial service and general aviation airports to receive air traffic control services. There are five contract towers in Arkansas: Fayetteville, Springdale, Rogers, Bentonville and Texarkana.
- University Transportation Centers: $78 million for researching and developing improved transportation methods. The Mack-Blackwell Transportation Center at the University of Arkansas has been a U.S. Department of Transportation University Transportation Center since 1992.
- Workforce Training: $35 million for the Workforce Opportunity for Rural Communities initiative to support workforce training and education in rural communities across the Delta and Appalachian regions.
- Head Start and Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Program: $135 million increase for Head Start and $85 million increase to provide child care assistance for families in need. CCDBG funds are critical to supporting the needs of working parents and enabling child care to continue to operate, a key to economic recovery.
- Water Infrastructure: $1.1 billion for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund which helps public water systems finance the costs of infrastructure improvements needed to achieve or maintain compliance with Safe Drinking Water Act requirements and to protect public health. $1.6 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund to provide communities low-cost financing for water quality improvement projects.