Rep. Peters Helps Pass Bipartisan Spending Bill to Boost Investments Critical to San Diego & National Security
December 17, 2015
Today, U.S. Congressman Scott Peters (CA-52) helped pass a federal spending plan that boosts investment in areas critical to the San Diego priorities Peters has fought for since being elected to Congress. It increases investment in science, provides tax credits and incentives for private sector investment in clean energy, and responsibly funds wildfire prevention.
“This spending plan supports several critical San Diego priorities I’ve been fighting for since coming to Congress,” Peters said. “I’ve argued that if Congress can’t do its job and pass a budget, then Congress shouldn’t get a paycheck. Today, Congress did its job and passed a bipartisan spending bill that delivers for San Diego.”
“We also added $21 billion to our defense budget which is essential to defeating terrorism and keeping Americans safe both home and abroad,” Peters continued. “In San Diego, where the military represents about a quarter of our economy, it’s also important to our prosperity, and to the livelihoods of the thousands of active duty military that live here.”
The Omnibus Appropriations Act, which appropriates Federal spending for the 2016 fiscal year, passed by a broad bipartisan vote of 316 to 113.
The package includes $32.1 billion in funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), $2 billion more than last year. Peters was recognized as the local biotech industry’s legislator of the year in 2014 and 2015, in part, for his effective advocacy for increased NIH investment. Earlier this year, Peters helped pass the 21st Century Cures Act which would increase NIH funds by an additional $8 billion if it passes in the Senate next year. San Diego’s universities and research institutions, which rely heavily on NIH funds, generate $4.6 billion to the region’s economy, and support more than 37,000 jobs. San Diego is the top metro area in the country for NIH research funding, receiving more than $768 million in funding in 2015, which benefits a number of institutions including the University of California San Diego, the La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology, and Scripps Health.
The spending plan also goes a long way toward fulfilling Peters’ commitment to fix the federal government’s lack of attention to preventing wildfires, ‘the natural disasters of the west’ that have devastated San Diego over the past decade. It directly funds 100% of the ten-year average the nation spends on fighting wildfires, and provides more than $600 million to help communities better prepare for, prevent and recover from wildfires. Earlier this year, Peters took Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewel on a tour of the district to make the case that better investment in prevention would save lives, homes, and money spent on suppression. This bill does not eliminate the underlying problem of borrowing from prevention funding to fund suppression, but it does make significant strides towards giving communities the resources they need to prevent and fight wildfires. Last year, Peters led the effort in Congress to raise attention to and force a vote on wildfire prevention investment.
Peters praised, too, a $17 million increase in Impact Aid, for a total of $1.8 billion. Impact Aid supports public schools that serve large numbers of military children. This is of particular importance to San Diego where nearly 11 percent of students are children of active duty parents. Coronado Unified School District is one of the largest beneficiaries of Impact Aid; it received $1.5 million last year.
Increases National Security:
- Appropriates $514.1 billion in defense spending, a $21.2 billion increase over last year, giving our military leaders the resources and certainty to increase our readiness and keep our nation safe.
- Military personnel will receive a 1.3% pay raise, and the Department of Defense will continue to be able to pursue alternative energy sources, a priority for both San Diego’s military and clean technology sector.
Invests in Renewable Energy and the Environment:
- Extends both the investment tax credit (ITC) and the production tax credit (PTC), which incentivize solar and wind production. Extending the ITC will drive an estimated $38 billion of private sector investment in solar power nationwide through 2021, and extending the PTC will lead to an additional $35 billion of wind investments, accelerating cost reductions. According to the Department of Energy, these extensions will also cut carbon dioxide emissions by more than 250 million metric tons per year by 2020. SDG&E currently delivers 33% of its energy primarily from wind and solar, and the bill’s investments will help San Diego maintain its commitment to using 100% renewable energy by 2035 as presented in the Climate Action Plan recently unanimously approved by the City.
- Reauthorizes the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a program that has invested almost $17 million into the San Diego region to restore parks and outdoor spaces, including the Cabrillo National Monument.
- Finally, it excludes harmful provisions that Republicans attempted to attach to undermine the Clean Power Plan and block an EPA rule that keeps our water free from pollution.
- Increases funding for Head Start by $570 million over last year to a total of $9.2 billion.
- Provides $22.5 billion for Pell Grants to help students pay for college and increases the maximum possible award to $5,915, a $140 increase over last year.
Invests in Infrastructure:
- Provides funding to the General Services Administration to be used at the San Diego Courthouse to make security upgrades and consolidate the child care center onto Federal land.
- Restores $400 million for the TIGER infrastructure grant program that the House tried to cut earlier this year. In October, the Port of San Diego received a $10 million grant from the TIGER program which Congressman Peters advocated for to improve Port operations and create jobs.
Reforms the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA):
- Requires the FAA to update its community involvement manual and implementation plan to take a more proactive role in engaging communities impacted by new departure and arrival procedures. Congressman Peters and his staff have led the fight against the FAA’s proposed flight path changes from San Diego Airport, and Peters has criticized the FAA’s outreach to the communities that would be affected by increased noise and traffic.
Blocked bad policy provisions:
- Equally important, the bill excluded harmful riders that would have rolled back campaign finance laws; diverted San Diego water to the Central Valley; undermined the United States’ leadership in reducing emissions and keeping our air and water clean; and cut funding to Planned Parenthood.