Senate Approves Key Funding for a Safer, Stronger & Smarter Maryland and Nation - Southern Maryland Headline News

Senate Approves Key Funding for a Safer, Stronger & Smarter Maryland and Nation

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Senator Barbara A. Mikulski today joined her colleague Paul S. Sarbanes (both D-Md.) in announcing the full Senate has approved the Commerce, Justice, Science $48.6 billion spending bill which includes their priorities for a safer, stronger and smarter Maryland and America. The legislation, which passed with a vote of 91-4, will provide specific assistance for victims of Hurricane Katrina, as well as funding for the Departments of Commerce and Justice, the Small Business Administration, Federal Communications Commission, Federal Trade Commission, NASA, National Science Foundation, U.S. Trade Representative and the SEC.

In addition, last night the Senate unanimously passed Senator Mikulski's amendment, cosponsored by Senator Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), which provides $1 million for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to conduct an immediate investigation into gasoline price-gouging. The legislation directs the FTC to investigate any evidence of price-gouging throughout the supply chain and distribution markets, the effects of price-gouging on economic activity in the United States and how price spikes are impacting people's purchasing power.


Specific Katrina-related funding in the bill includes:

--Funds for the Small Business Administration's Disaster Loan Program to make over $800 million in low interest disaster loans for individuals, businesses and non-profit organizations to help repair damaged homes, businesses, personal property, equipment and inventory.

--$210 million in emergency spending was added on the Senate floor for the Economic Development Administration to help communities recover from Hurricane Katrina.

"Our first step must be to provide aid to the people of the Gulf Coast who need it so desperately," said Senator Mikulski. "This bill provides a down payment for the victims of Katrina to help rebuild their lives and communities with additional funding coming in Supplemental Appropriations bills."


The spending bill includes funding for local and federal law enforcement, including:

--$21.2 billion for the Department of Justice.

--$5.32 billion for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

--$776 million for the United States Marshals Service, the agency that pays for judicial security, prisoner handling and fugitive apprehension.

--$1.65 billion for the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA).

--$923 million for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

--$5 billion for the federal prison system.

--While the President's budget proposed devastating cuts to local law enforcement, Senators Mikulski and Sarbanes fought to add over $1 billion to local law enforcement programs, including $515 million for the COPS program and $350 million for juvenile justice programs.

--$48 million to continue and expand the Missing and Exploited Children Program, which includes a sexual predator tip-line and a 24-hour telephone hotline for missing children.

--$5 million for the Safe Schools program, to prevent violence in our public schools.

--$2.7 million for the FBI's innocent images program to investigate and capture child pornographers who use the Internet to prey on children.

--$1.5 million for the criminal division to target, prosecute and seize the assets of those who commit crimes against children.

--$80 million to fight methamphetamine production, use and addiction.

--The Senate bill does not include a $1.3 billion rescission from The Crime Victims Fund, as proposed in the President's budget. The Crime Victims Fund makes grants to help victims of crime, including abused women and children. Grants are paid for out of fines collected from convicted felons.

"As a nation fighting a war on terrorism, we need to be safer, stronger and smarter so that we are able to better detect, prevent and respond to acts of terrorism," said Senator Mikulski. "While we are protecting the homeland, we also have to protect the hometown. This legislation gets us closer to these goals by standing up for our first responders and our law enforcement."

"This bill funds critically needed programs that help to protect our children, our families, our local communities, and our nation," said Senator Sarbanes.


The CJS Appropriations bill includes:

--$4.48 billion for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), including:

----$863 million for the National Weather Service, because timely and accurate forecasts help save lives and protect property, and

----$1 billion for the National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service, so current environmental information can be transmitted quickly and accurately to the public.

--$315 million for the Economic Development Administration (EDA), saving EDA from proposed elimination.

"NOAA saves lives and livelihoods - in Maryland and around the world," said Senator Mikulski. "That's what I'm fighting to do in the United States Senate, and why I have made NOAA such a priority in the federal checkbook."

"These agencies help to serve as our early warning systems in the event of bad weather and also conduct needed research relating to our climate and our atmosphere and how they interrelate to our environment and our daily lives," continued Senator Sarbanes.


The bill also includes:

--$16.4 billion for NASA, which includes $250 million for a Hubble servicing mission. This fully funds all major space science and earth science programs, the space shuttle, space station, the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) and the Moon-Mars initiative.

--$5.5 billion for the National Science Foundation, a $58 million increase over last year. This preserves funding for all major NSF programs, as well as funding for Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

--While this year's spending bill includes $727 million for the Census Bureau, this is a $17 million funding cut from last year. Senator Mikulski is going to fight to increase funding as the process moves forward.

"I want to be strategic about investing our resources to win Nobel prizes and win market share," said Senator Mikulski. "That's why I am standing up for an innovation economy, led by some of our best and brightest minds at our federal agencies."

"In order to compete in an ever-increasing global environment, we must provide the resources to those agencies that are on the cutting edge of our next major discovery, be it in space, or here on the ground. The funding for these agencies helps us to accomplish many of those goals," said Senator Sarbanes. "I stand alongside Senator Mikulski to fight to restore the cuts to the Census Bureau which provides research, demographic information and a snapshot of our people that is vital to all government agencies in determining how we look as a nation and the needs of our people as a result of that snapshot."

In the next step of the appropriations process, the House and Senate will meet in Conference Committee to work out the differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill. Both Houses of Congress will vote on the conference bill. Once passed by the House and Senate, the Commerce, Justice, Science Appropriations bill will go to the President for his signature.

Senator Mikulski is a member of the Appropriations Committee and the senior Democrat on the Commerce, Justice, Science Subcommittee. Senator Sarbanes is the senior Democrat on the Banking Committee.

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