Legislation includes Blumenthal-led provisions to fight hate crimes, bolster consumer protection efforts, support Ukrainian & Afghan refugees, improve VA services, & invest in small businesses
[WASHINGTON, DC] – U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) released the following statement applauding Senate passage of the bipartisan Omnibus Appropriations Agreement for Fiscal Year 2022:
“This comprehensive, bipartisan spending bill addresses some of the biggest challenges we face in Connecticut, across the country, and around the world. I’m proud to have fought for measures that will benefit our state – helping real people in real ways. Countless critical programs will receive essential funding from this bill, and billions of dollars will soon be headed Connecticut’s way.”
“The omnibus will invest in our skilled manufacturing workforce, bolster mental health and substance abuse resources, improve VA services for our nation’s veterans, and support America’s middle class and small businesses. As Chair of the Subcommittee on Consumer Protection and as author of the bipartisan Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act, I fought for provisions to crack down on Big Tobacco’s efforts to supply children with unregulated synthetic nicotine products and to combat hate crimes with new grant programs and funding.”
“I’m also proud of this bill’s historic effort to assist our allies and partners in Ukraine. This legislation will provide vital funding to strengthen security and humanitarian efforts as Vladimir Putin and Russia continue their unprovoked attack. This funding to support our security partners and relocate displaced refugees sends an unequivocal message that the United States is here to help.”
Blumenthal championed the following provisions included in the omnibus spending bill:
Supporting Our Allies and Partners in Ukraine: The omnibus includes funding to support security efforts related to Ukraine, including $650 million in Foreign Military Financing Program (FMF) funding for Ukraine and Eastern European allies and security partners facing threats from Russia, $300 million for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, and $1.3 billion for International Security Cooperation Programs, including $300 million to shore up the defenses of U.S. allies and partners facing Russian aggression, including $180 million for Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania through the Baltic Security Initiative; $30 million for Poland; $30 million for Romania; $20 million for Bulgaria; and $40 million for Georgia
Investing in Connecticut’s Defense Industrial Base: Blumenthal fought for strong levels of funding for continued production of helicopters and aircraft, and robust submarine funding to fortify our undersea superiority and grow Connecticut jobs. The legislation includes:
Protecting Servicemembers and Their Families from Exposure to Harmful Chemicals: Last year, Blumenthal introduced legislation to reduce exposure of servicemembers and their families to harmful per- and poly- fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) chemicals, and supported funding in this bill that provides $1.5 billion for Environmental Restoration activities, $210 million for costs associated with PFOS/PFOA cleanup, $30 million for PFAS remediation and disposal technology, $28.7 million for PFAS destruction technologies, and $15 million for study and assessment of health implications of PFOS/PFOA contamination in drinking water.
Addressing Sexual Assault and Gender-Based Violence in the Military: The omnibus includes $539.7 million for the Department and Services’ Sexual Assault Prevention and Response programs, including $97 million for implementation of the Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault in the Military, $47 million for the Special Victims’ Counsel, and an increase of $7.5 million above the request for the Department’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office. Blumenthal is a leading sponsor of the bipartisan Military Justice Improvement and Increasing Prevention Act, which seeks to create an impartial, fair, and accountable military justice system by moving the decision to prosecute serious crimes from the chain of command to independent, trained, professional military prosecutors.
State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs
Supporting Afghan and Ukrainian Refugees: The omnibus provides $6.8 billion in humanitarian assistance to rebuild the U.S. Refugee Admissions program and to address the historic levels of global displacement and humanitarian need resulting from natural disasters, conflict, and the pandemic. It also includes authority and direction for the Secretary of State to use the funding to eliminate processing backlogs and expedite the adjudication of Afghan Special Immigrant (SIV) cases.
Commerce, Justice and Science Programs
Stopping the Scourge of Hate Crimes: The omnibus includes $5 million in funding for the bipartisan Jabara-Heyer NO HATE Act grant programs which aim to improve hate crimes reporting and expand assistance and resources for victims. The grant programs were established by the Blumenthal-authored NO HATE Act which was signed into law last year. These grant programs will improve hate crimes reporting systems, establish hate crimes hotlines to connect victims to local support services, and provide training and education to law enforcement on how to identify and investigate hate crimes. The NO HATE Act also includes provisions to help rehabilitate perpetrators of hate crimes through education and community service.
The appropriations bill also includes $21 million for the Community Relations Service (CRS) at the Department of Justice, which provides facilitated dialogue, mediation, training, and consultation to assist communities facing discrimination-based conflict.
Combatting Child Exploitation: The bill includes $99 million for missing and exploited children programs, an increase from $94 million during the previous fiscal year, which supports the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) and the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force program. NCMEC manages numerous programs and provides multiple activities and services related to missing and exploited children, including the CyberTipline, which serves as the national clearinghouse for tips and leads about child sexual exploitation. The ICAC Task Force is a national network of 61 coordinated task forces representing thousands of federal, state, and local law enforcement and prosecutorial agencies. These task forces help increase law enforcement capabilities to detect internet crimes against children, conduct investigations, and provide training and technical assistance in forensics, community outreach, and capacity-building.
Addressing Violence Against Women: The bill contains $575 million, the highest funding level ever, for grants provided by the Office on Violence Against Women. These grants, awarded to state, local, and tribal governments, nonprofit organizations, and universities, help strengthen law enforcement resources, provide support services, and enhance the legal safety net for victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.
The omnibus also includes the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2022, co-sponsored by Blumenthal. This legislation will provide meaningful resources to protect and help domestic and gender-based violence survivors, enable victim advocates to expand outreach and services to those in need, and give law enforcement agencies better tools to protect victims from this kind of violence.
Supporting Law Enforcement and Crime Victims: The bill provides more than $3.88 billion in grants to state and local law enforcement and communities to prevent and respond to crime. The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant program is funded at $674.5 million and the Community Oriented Policing Services Hiring program is funded at $246 million. The bill also includes $10 million for programs that support training for officers to properly handle interactions with individuals who have mental illness or a disability; $8 million for officer mental health and wellness; $35 million for the purchase of body cameras; and $30 million for the purchase of bulletproof vests. In addition, the bill releases $2.6 billion from the Crime Victims Fund, which has served as the primary source of funding for state victim compensation and assistance programs that help victims of crime heal and rebuild.
Stopping School Violence: The bill includes a total of $135 million for grants under the STOP School Violence Act. These grants will help further evidence-based school safety programming, including training to school personnel and students on how to identify warning signs, intervene when those signs are reported, and prevent tragedies such as suicide, mental health crises, and interpersonal violence.
Prioritizing Community Violence Intervention to Stop Gun Violence: The bill includes $50 million for community violence intervention and prevention initiatives to help stop gun violence. This funding will support community-based organizations’ implementation of proven strategies to reduce, prevent, and respond to gun violence on the front lines of this epidemic in communities across the United States.
Empowering Olympic Athletes: The appropriations package includes $2 million to fund a Commission on the State of the U.S. Olympics and Paralympic Commission. The Commission was authorized by sweeping legislation authored by Blumenthal and U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS) to reform the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) in the wake of abuse allegations that touched nearly all corners of Olympic sport.
Supporting Justice-Involved Individuals: The bill includes $10 million in grants authorized by the Crisis Stabilization and Community Reentry Act, co-authored by Blumenthal. These grants allow law enforcement to partner with mental health providers in the community on treatment and crisis stabilization services for incarcerated individuals and promote community-based care upon reentry.
Investing in Youth Mentorship: The legislation invests $102 million in the Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Youth Mentoring Grant. The grant supports the implementation, delivery, and enhancement of evidence-based mentoring services which improve outcomes and ensure that at-risk and underserved youth have the support needed to thrive personally, academically, and professionally.
Investing in Our Oceans & Marine Habitats: The bill includes funding for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) efforts to promote research, protection, and restoration of our oceans and fisheries. Blumenthal has long worked to protect waters and wildlife in Long Island Sound, around Connecticut, and across the country. This bill continues that fight by including $1 billion for the National Marine Fisheries Service to adapt its fishery management practices to the reality of the changing climate, $79 million for Coastal Zone Management Grants, $55 million for Habitat Conservation and Restoration Funding, $43.4 million for the Ocean Exploration and Research Program, and $16 million to support efforts to protect the critically endangered North Atlantic right whale.
Recognizing Connecticut’s Estuarine Research Reserve: Following efforts by Blumenthal to designate and fund the National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS) in Connecticut, the bill provides an increase of $1.2 million above the fiscal year 2021 enacted level for the entire NERRS program. The newly-established Connecticut Reserve is one of 30 reserves in the NERRS that are protected for long-term research, water quality monitoring, education, and coastal stewardship.
Investing in our Manufacturing Workforce: The bill includes $158 million for the Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership, $16.5 million for the Manufacturing USA Program, and $55 million for the Minority Business Development Agency’s business centers. These programs provide vital resources to manufacturers and workers throughout Connecticut.
Stopping Crumbling Foundations: The bill includes $2 million for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to continue working with academic institutions to study and develop testing for the presence of pyrrhotite in concrete. Connecticut homeowners have suffered because of concrete foundations containing pyrrhotite, and NIST recently awarded the University of Connecticut a grant to investigate and model foundation risk.
Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Programs
Implementing the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act: This bill provides $1.6 billion for the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to achieve the historic funding levels set in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA). With this appropriation, DOT will be able to enact the countless programs authorized by Congress and providing money to state and local governments.
Investing in Passenger Rail: The bill includes major investments in the safety and operations of passenger rail, including:
Investing in Airports and Aviation Safety: The bill includes $18.1 billion to support activities at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), an increase of $495 million over last fiscal year, including $554 million for Airport Improvement Program grants, which support airport safety, terminal, and noise mitigation projects.
Investing in Public Transportation: The bill includes $16.3 billion for the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), including $2.2 billion for Capital Investment Grants and $504 million for Transit Infrastructure Grants, which includes $75 million for Low and No Emission Buses grants. This increase in resources will help struggling transit agencies purchase buses and rail cars, build maintenance facilities, and address a $176 billion transit state-of-good-repair backlog across the country.
Rental Assistance: The omnibus contains enough funding to renew all existing contracts provided through Housing Choice Vouchers ($27.37 billion) and Project-Based Rental Assistance ($13.94 billion), and provides $200 million to expand rental assistance vouchers to an additional 25,000 households, including individuals and families experiencing or at risk of homelessness, survivors of domestic violence and veterans.
Community Development Block Grants: The bill provides $4.84 billion, an increase of $1.37 billion over last year.
Investing in Affordable, Safe Housing: The bill makes major investments in housing by allocating $8.4 billion for public housing programs, $3.2 billion for homeless assistance grants, $1.03 billion for Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities, and $450 million for housing for persons with AIDS. Blumenthal recently urged Congressional leadership to include robust funding for housing programs in future legislative packages.
Investing in VA Infrastructure: Blumenthal, a member of the Veterans’ Affairs Committee, fought for funding in the omnibus that directs $2.2 billion to support high priority projects, correct critical seismic and safety deficiencies, address other performance gaps at VA facilities, and ensure that veterans in Connecticut and across the country can access care in modern facilities that are safe, secure, sustainable, and accessible. The funding is an increase of $458 million above the 2021 enacted level, including $1.6 billion for Major Construction and $553 million for Minor Construction.
Prioritizing Veteran Mental Health: The legislation includes $13.2 billion for mental healthcare, an increase of $2.9 billion above last year’s level, of which $598 million is specifically for suicide prevention outreach. Last year, Blumenthal led an effort to expand the VA’s peer specialist support program, which plays a vital role in combatting risks of veteran suicide and treating mental health conditions. The program helps veterans access health services, navigate the VA health care system, and teaches coping and positive health-affirming behaviors.
Improving the Processing of Health Claims: The spending bill invests $3.5 billion in the Veterans Benefits Administration, an increase of $274 million based on last year’s levels, and aims to help with the processing of claims for new medical conditions designated by the VA and tied to toxic exposure. Blumenthal pushed for legislation that would guarantee health benefits to those suffering from the effects of toxic exposure to poisons and chemicals connected to their service, including burn pits, nerve gas, radiation exposure, and other combat poisons.
Pay Raises for VA Nurses and Physician Assistants: The omnibus also includes a Blumenthal-championed provision to address staffing shortages by increasing pay limitations for critical VA health care occupations, including advanced practice nurses, physicians assistants, and registered nurses. With the West Haven VA Medical Center currently experiencing a nursing shortage, this measure will be instrumental in allowing the VA to keep pace with competitive recruitment as nurses remain in high demand in Connecticut and across the nation as a whole.
Financial Services and General Government
Bolstering Consumer Protection Efforts: The omnibus includes $139 million for the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) in its efforts to protect the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with the use of the thousands of types of consumer products under the agency's jurisdiction. The bill also includes $376.5 million for the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to bolster its antitrust, privacy, and consumer protection work. Blumenthal serves as Chair of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Subcommittee on Consumer Protection, Product Safety, and Data Security, and has long advocated for more resources for the agency.
Investing in Small Businesses: The legislation provides a total of $1 billion for the Small Business Administration (SBA), an increase of $109 million from last year, to support investments in programs to help underserved entrepreneurs access capital and contracting opportunities. Specifically, the bill includes $290 million for Entrepreneurial Development Programs, including $138 million for Small Business Development Centers, $37 million for Microloan Technical Assistance, $24 million for Women’s Business Centers, and $17 million for the Federal and State Technology Partnership Program, Growth Accelerators, and Regional Innovation Clusters.
Election Security Grants: The bill includes $75 million for Election Security Grants to assist in effective and efficient election administration, and to improve and strengthen the security of federal elections. Connecticut has received funding from these grants in the past.
Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Programs
Investing in our Workforce: The bill includes $2.9 billion in funding for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), a $34 million increase from the previous fiscal year. This funding will help provide adult and youth training grants, registered apprenticeships, and Workforce Data Quality Initiative grants, among others. Blumenthal is a strong advocate for funding for WIOA and workforce innovation opportunities.
Historic Investments in Medical Research: The omnibus includes $45 billion for the National Institutes of Health, including critical funding for research on opioids, health disparities, cancer, and Alzheimer’s. It also includes $37.5 billion to research the effects of COVID-19 on mental health and children, and $18 million for Lyme Disease Research. Last year, Blumenthal led efforts urging appropriators to allocate funding and grants for states to prevent and address tick-borne illnesses like Lyme disease
Combating the Opioid Epidemic: The bill includes over $4 billion across the Department of Health and Human Services to address the opioid epidemic. This funding will be used to expand access to medication assisted treatment (MAT), increase availability of opioid overdose reversal medication Narcan, and provide states with $1.5 billion to address substance use disorder at the state and local level.
Preventing Gun Violence: The bill includes $12.5 million for gun violence prevention research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study the epidemic of gun violence in communities across the country.
Investing in Mental Health Programs: The bill expands access to mental health programs and increases funding to expand and enhance access to suicide prevention resources. Specifically, the legislation provides $24.943 million for Mental Health Awareness Training and Mental Health First Aid at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and a $13 million increase to Project AWARE to expand efforts to identify and help children and youth in need of mental health care. To address the national crisis in child and adolescent mental health, Blumenthal has called for more funding to expand the pediatric workforce with a focus on mental health and the impact of COVID-19.
Fighting Big Tobacco: The bill includes $127.85 million for tobacco prevention efforts at the CDC to fund the Office on Smoking and Health, and prevention and education programs, including the successful Tips From Former Smokers campaign. The legislation also includes a Blumenthal-led provision that enables the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate synthetic nicotine as a tobacco product.
Social Emotional Learning: The bill includes a $160 million increase for programs dedicated to advancing and studying the practice of “whole child” approaches to education. Social emotional learning has been shown to support students in dealing with mental health challenges and trauma, and has long been an initiative supported by Blumenthal.
Finding Treatments and Cures for Brain Disease: The bill includes $620 million to fund the Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies (BRAIN) Initiative, which supports efforts to develop cures and treatments for brain disorders including Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, autism, epilepsy, schizophrenia, depression, addiction, and traumatic brain injury. Blumenthal has long-led the call in advocating for enhanced resources for researchers.
Modernizing CDC’s Data Collection: The bill includes $100 million, a $50 million increase, in funding for the data modernization initiative at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to enhance the CDC’s data collection capabilities and promote seamless information sharing with state and local health departments. Blumenthal has been a leading voice in calling on appropriators to provide public health officials and community leaders with more accurate, real-time information as they make critical public health decisions.
Agency on Health Care Research and Quality: The legislation includes $350,400,000 for the Agency on Health Care Research and Quality, which is responsible for studying the delivery and efficiency of our health care system. AHRQ’s work is critical in improving health care outcomes, and the nation’s strategy in our fight against COVID-19. Blumenthal led efforts urging negotiators to include robust funding for the sole federal agency focused on generating research to advance health care delivery system efficiency.
Supporting Special Olympics: The spending bill includes $31 million for Special Olympics education programs, an increase of $7 million over last fiscal year. Blumenthal had led efforts in the Senate to increase funding for the organization and its athletes across the country.
Career, Technical, and Adult Education: The bill includes $2.1 billion in funding for efforts to support adult education and literacy, career and technical education, and community colleges. Specifically, this funding includes $1.38 billion for CTE State Grants and $690 million for Adult Education State Grants. Blumenthal has led efforts to fully fund grants and programs supporting these educational and career opportunities.
Rebuilding Our Refugee Assistance Infrastructure: The bill contains $4.8 billion in refugee and entrant assistance funding for HHS that will help rebuild our refugee assistance infrastructure after years of neglect. This funding will ensure that resettlement agencies are able to maintain their capacity at a level that allows them to continue to serve existing refugee populations as well as newly arrived refugees, including from Afghanistan.
Energy and Environment Programs
Promoting Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technology: Blumenthal fought for funding that will support Connecticut’s growing hydrogen and fuel cell industry, including $825 million for the Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon, $347 million for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), $105 million Solid Oxide Fuel Cell Systems and Hydrogen, and $20 million for the Advanced Manufacturing Office (AMO).
Fish and Wildlife Refuge: The bill directs $5,000,000 to the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge. Covering parts of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire, the Refuge conserves, protects, and enhances the abundance and diversity of native plant, fish and wildlife species and the ecosystems on which they depend throughout the 7.2 million acre Connecticut River watershed.
Aquatic Research: The bill provides $1 million for research on hydrilla, eel, and milfoil invasive grasses. Blumenthal led a letter calling on Congress to address the eradication of invasive Hydrilla verticillata in over 65 miles of the Connecticut River and adjoining coves and tributaries.
Investments in the Army Corps: The bill includes $8.3 billion for investigations, construction, and operations and maintenance conducted by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to enact its projects. This includes 12 projects throughout the state of Connecticut totaling more than $12.7 million.
Agriculture, Rural Development, and FDA Programs
Dietary Supplements: The bill increases funding for inspections and enforcement under the Dietary Supplements Health and Education Act of 1994 to ensure dietary supplements are not adulterated or misbranded. Blumenthal has called on the FTC and FDA to prevent marketing and sales of deceptive, potentially unsafe products and supplements.
Food and Drug Administration: The bill includes $3.3 billion for discretionary spending by the FDA, including a $29.5 million increase to address food outbreaks, animal food inspection systems, and heavy metals in baby food—bolstering funding for the “Closer to Zero” initiative. Blumenthal has urged congressional leadership to fund the “Closer to Zero” initiative and cosponsors legislation to direct the FDA and food manufacturers to reduce toxic heavy metals in baby food.
Climate Change at USDA: The bill includes $78.3 million for USDA to address climate change and invest in sustainable agriculture, clean energy, and research initiatives. Blumenthal has sponsored legislation to help farmers achieve net-zero emissions by 2040, generate sustainable agriculture, and decrease food waste.
Interior & Environment Programs
Funding for the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument: This bill includes $2 million for wildlife and habitat management, including $700,000 for the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument, the first dedicated funding the monument has received. This monument helps preserves the rich biodiversity and marine ecosystem of the Atlantic Ocean. Blumenthal has long-supported the monument and was a leading voice in advocating for the designation of this first-ever Atlantic marine national monument.