WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) today voted in support of several bipartisan federal spending bills to provide key funding for New Jersey’s infrastructure, transportation, housing, environment, and agriculture. The combined federal appropriations spending bills, known as a minibus, provide critical funding for New Jersey priorities in Fiscal Year 2019, such as: funding the New Starts program; increasing funding for Cranberry research; reinstating the Floriculture Crops Report; sustaining funding for an inter-regional research project based at Rutgers and prohibiting changes to the weight limits at the Teterboro Airport.
“This spending bill includes critical funding for New Jersey’s agriculture, infrastructure, housing, and environment,” said Senator Bob Menendez. “As always, I welcome any opportunity to work with colleagues from across the aisle to reach bipartisan agreements that benefit New Jerseyans and Americans. Common-sense funding bills like this one that ensures our economy is allowed to move in the right direction, as opposed to letting vindictive, partisan politics threaten critical programs.”
These bipartisan federal spending bills include significant investments and several priorities for which Sen. Menendez fought, such as:
- Cranberry Research: The Senate bill increases funding for cranberry research by $1 million to $3.9 million, which will be used for the improvement of cranberry yields, pest management, disease management, and water resource management by developing fields devoted to cranberry research and collection and storage of samples for analysis in appropriate existing laboratory facilities.
- Horse slaughter: The Senate bill includes the continued prohibition of funding for USDA meat inspectors at horse slaughter plants, thereby continuing the ban on horse meat. Senator Menendez is the Senate leader in the fight to ban horse slaughter.
- Floriculture Crops Report: The Senate bill reinstates $500,000 for the Floriculture Crops Report by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). New Jersey’s large greenhouse industry stands to benefit from this report.
- Inter-regional Research Project #4: The Senate bill sustains funding for the IR-4 program based at Rutgers University, the only entity in the country that helps small farmers by facilitating the registrations of conventional pesticides and biopesticides for use on specialty food crops and non-food environmental horticulture crops with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
- Amtrak: The Senate bill provides Amtrak with $1.94 billion, including $650,000 million in dedicated funding for the Northeast Corridor.
- New Starts: The Senate bill includes $2.55 billion for the New Starts program for light rail, heavy rail, commuter rail, streetcar, and bus rapid transit projects.
- Additional highway/transit formula funds: The Senate bill includes additional highway and transit formula funds, above and beyond the record funding levels Senator Menendez already fought to secure. This includes $3.3 billion additional nationwide for highways and $800 million additional nationwide for transit.
- Teterboro Airport: The Senate bill includes a provision, sponsored by Senator Menendez, prohibiting changes to the weight limits at Teterboro Airport. The provision ensures that larger, noisier aircraft can’t access the airport, protecting the airport’s infrastructure and improving quality of life for surrounding neighborhoods.
Housing and Urban Development
- Housing and Community Development: The Senate bill includes $100 million in funding for the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative; $45 million in funding for the Housing Counseling Assistance program; and $4.76 billion for the Public Housing Operating Fund which is an increase from the fiscal year 2018 spending bill. The Senate bill also includes $154 million for the Section 811 Housing for Persons with Disabilities program and $678 million for the Section 202 Housing for the Elderly program.
- Rental Assistance: The Senate bill includes $11.75 billion for section 8 project-based rental assistance, which is an increase from the fiscal year spending bill.
- BEACH Act Grants: The Senate bill funds the BEACH Act grants at $9.5 million, level funding with FY18. Senator Menendez led the effort in the Senate to preserve these grants after the Trump Administration called for their elimination. These grants provide coastal water quality monitoring funding to ensure that the water at our beaches is safe for swimming and recreation.
- Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers: The Senate bill contains $2.108 million for the Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers program, which creates partnerships across all levels of government to preserve rivers in a natural, free-flowing state. Senator Menendez led the fight in the Senate to secure funding for this program, which benefits four New Jersey rivers: Great Egg Harbor, Lower Delaware, Maurice, and Musconetcong.
The minibus appropriation bill will go to conference with the House of Representatives in the coming weeks.