Washington, D.C. – Alaska Congressman Don Young today shared the following statement after House passage of H.R. 244, the Consolidated Appropriations Act for 2017, which funds the federal government through September 30, 2017:
“Funding the government is one of the most critical aspects of Congress, particularly the House. This very clear responsibility to raise and spend money, outlined in the Constitution, should not be forgotten no matter who sits in the White House. While this legislation is far from perfect – a compromise between parties and the President – I believe it was necessary to eliminate the threat of a government shutdown and keep our economy moving. Inaction would have been very bad for both Alaska and the nation, and would have created an unnecessary level of uncertainty and confusion at a time when we should be governing for the betterment of the nation.
“This legislation contains a lot of good for Alaska, including large increases to support of military men and women – which protects troop levels at JBER, funds new training and readiness programs and addresses a vast number of national security priorities. The bill also funds a number of Alaska-based programs and projects that have for too long come under attack. On the regulatory side, this bill takes serious steps to reduce the growth and expansion of unnecessary hurdles across many sectors of the government, and in turn works to support economic growth and infrastructure development this nation so badly needs. Equally as important is what this bill does not contain; it does not make cuts to our Coast Guard, it did not ignore the many needs of the Alaskan people, and it didn’t eliminate crucial investments in our economy.
“I’ve personally experienced 18 shutdowns during my time in Congress, some at the hands of Republicans others at the hands of Democrats. However, one this is certain, shutdowns are costly and damaging. Although this legislation contained a number of shortcomings, I was pleased to see my colleagues come together to move this package. Overall, I believe it is a positive step in the right direction.”
Some Items of Alaskan Interests Included in the H.R. 244:
Interior and Environment:
- Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT): $465 M
- Alaska Village Built Clinic program: $11M
- Prohibits the Forest Service or BLM from issuing new closures of public lands to hunting and recreational shooting, except in the case of public safety
- Prohibits the Department of Interior from administratively creating new wilderness areas
- Includes report language directing BLM to work cooperatively with local stakeholders on the ANCSA contaminated lands
- Directs the Interior Department to work collaboratively work with interested parties, including Congress, States, local communities, Tribal governments, and others before making national monument designations.
- The bill maintains the indefinite appropriation for both IHS and BIA Contract Support Costs.
- Alaska Mental Health Land Exchange Act, sponsored by the Alaska congressional delegation.
- Rohrabacher Amendment, which bars the Department of Justice from using resources to prosecute individuals who are acting in compliance with their state’s medical marijuana laws.
- Rural Alaska Village Grant Program: $30M
- The Emergency Food Assistance Program (TEFAP): $19M
- Stops the Obama-era school meal regulation from being implemented by providing flexibility to schools.
Labor/Health and Human Services/Education
- Alaska Native Education Program (ANEP): $32.453M
- Veterans Employment and Training Service (VETS): $279M
- Corporation for Public Broadcasting: $445M
Energy and Water
- Denali Commission: $15M
- Alaska Village State and Tribal Assistance Grants (STAG): $20M
Transportation/Housing and Urban Development
- NAHASDA Native housing block grant: $654M
- Essential Air Service: $150 M
- Fully funds troop pay raises authorized in the National Defense Authorization Act.
- Prohibits the transfer or release of Guantanamo detainees into the U.S.
- Provides funding for the procurement of 74 F-35 joint Strike Fighters.
- $150 million from the Navy’s shipbuilding account for the procurement of a polar icebreaker.
- U.S. Coast Guard: $10.5B, an increase of $344M
- Cuts the EPA by $81 million below FY16 enacted levels and holds EPA staffing at 15,000 positions
- Blocks the EPA from banning bullets and fishing tackle made from lead, in addition to regulating lead content.
- Requires a report on the backlog of mining permits currently awaiting approval.
Click here to view H.R. 244.