It took a global crisis to bring about bipartisan support of an omnibus funding bill for Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) but the United States Senate finally got it done.
The massive funding bill includes $13.6 billion in emergency assistance for Ukraine and NATO allies and support for key Colorado priorities, such as the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the Arkansas Valley Conduit, the Regional Transportation District (RTD), and the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program.
“From the COVID-19 pandemic to natural disasters fueled by climate change, Coloradans have faced challenge after challenge over the past year,” said Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet. “The investments in this bill will help Colorado communities return to normal, build climate resilience, and cope with rising costs.”
“With this bill, we will deliver critical humanitarian, economic, and security assistance to the people of Ukraine as they continue to fight for their lives and country. We must continue to punish Putin and his enablers for this lawless war. The Ukrainian people are resilient, and we must support them in their pursuit for a sovereign and democratic nation,” said Bennet.
Bennet, a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, secured provisions from the Intelligence Authorization Act (IAA) in the omnibus to strengthen U.S. competitiveness in key emerging technologies.
Bennet-backed Colorado priorities included in the FY22 Omnibus Bill:
- $10.05 million for the Arkansas Valley Conduit, a $2 million increase from Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21). The Arkansas Valley Conduit (AVC) is a 130-mile pipeline with spurs that would serve as many as 40 communities and 50,000 people east of Pueblo . It will deliver filtered water ready for treatment from Pueblo Reservoir.
- $148 million for NREL’s facilities and infrastructure budget, a $18 million increase from FY21.
- $1.87 billion for farm programs, which is $44 million above FY21 levels. This funding will continue support for various farm, conservation, and emergency loan programs and help American farmers and ranchers.
- $525 million for the Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) to offset lost property tax revenue to counties with significant federal lands.
- $28.9 million to return the RTD’s deposit to secure a federal loan to develop Denver’s Union Station. Along with Colorado U.S. Senator John Hickenlooper and Colorado U.S. Representative Ed Perlmutter, Bennet secured language that requires the Department of Transportation to return RTD’s deposit.
- $5.7 billion, a 5.5 percent increase from FY21, for the Forest Service to improve forest restoration and fire risk reduction efforts and to increase year-round staffing 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 FY 21.
- $3.8 billion for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to help Coloradans cover energy costs, a $50 million increase 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 place approximately 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 9-8-8 implementation. Bennet co-sponsored the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act to designate 9-8-8 as the national suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline. In July 2021, he introduced bipartisan legislation to expand and enhance the capacity of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and mental health crisis centers.
- A 2.7 percent pay raise for all 2.1 million uniformed U.S. service members and approximately 750,000 civilian Defense Department employees.
- $97.5 billion, an 8.7 percent increase from FY21, for VA Medical Care, which will help provide essential health services for 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 homebuyer and rental units and rehabilitation of more than 4,000 owner-occupied homes.
- $10 million for university consortia space technology Research and Development.
A full list of Bennet-supported Colorado priorities in the omnibus is available here.
The legislation also re-authorizes the Violence Against Women Act, which provides critical support for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
On Thursday, Bennet and Senator John Hickenlooper announced that they secured nearly $121 million for 64 Colorado projects in the omnibus through the congressionally directed spending process. “Colorado’s local communities drove these federal investments. These funds will accelerate much-needed projects across the state” said Hickenlooper.
$3,575,000 for the Leadville Justice Center,
$1,601,000 for the Fremont and Custer County Regional Rural 911 Telecommunications and Data Program Expansion
$1,460,000 for the Gunnison Valley Rural Transportation Authority Fleet Expansion