Senate Passes Padilla Bills, Amendments in FY 2024 Appropriations Minibus Package; Padilla Secures Over $286 Million for 171 Community Projects Across California

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senator Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) announced that he secured over $286 million for 171 community projects across California and provisions to improve emergency evacuation route planning, streamline veterans’ access to housing vouchers, expand collaboration between the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and farm workers, better coordinate behavioral health and homelessness services, and resist additional workforce cuts for the Mars Sample Return mission in the first bipartisan FY24 appropriations package.

The package passed by the Senate today includes the Agriculture; Energy and Water; Military Construction-VA; Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development; Commerce, Justice, and Science; and Interior appropriations bills. The bills will now be sent to President Biden to be signed into law ahead of today’s funding deadline.

“I am glad to see the Senate adopt key measures I led to better coordinate homelessness and behavioral health services, help establish life-saving emergency evacuation routes, support our farm workers, and fight back against threats to California’s space leadership and workforce,” said Senator Padilla. “The significant funding I also secured for local projects across California in this package will bolster our clean water and sanitation infrastructure, improve resilience against flooding, help address our housing crisis, and make our streets safer.”

Padilla secured funding for critical local projects throughout California:

  • The Inland Empire received over $75 million for 27 projects. Additional details are available here.
  • Los Angeles County received over $45 million for 25 projects. Additional details are available here.
  • The Bay Area received over $41 million for 31 projects. Additional details are available here.
  • The Central Valley received over $35 million for 20 projects. Additional details are available here.
  • The San Diego region received over $25 million for 17 projects. Additional details are available here.
  • The greater Sacramento region received over $22 million for 18 projects. Additional details are available here.
  • The Central Coast received over $18 million for 15 projects. Additional details are available here.
  • Orange County received over $14 million for 11 projects. Additional details are available here.

Legislative priorities Senator Padilla secured in the appropriations minibus bill include:

  • Emergency Evacuation Routes: The minibus includes Padilla’s bipartisan Emergency Vehicle and Community (EVAC) Planning Act, which directs the Department of Transportation, in consultation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to develop and publish best practices and guidelines for states, cities, counties, and Tribal governments to utilize when conducting local emergency evacuation route planning, both for evacuating communities and bringing in emergency personnel and supplies.
    • “California, and far too many other states, have seen lives lost during flooding and fires because of a lack of adequate evacuation routes,” said Senator Padilla. “We have to equip communities — particularly smaller, tribal, and rural communities — with the guidelines and best practices necessary to plan for emergency evacuation and emergency response. Today’s legislation goes a long way toward preventing avoidable losses of life when disasters strike.”
  • Improving HUD-VASH Voucher Access: This provision expedites the stalled Congressionally-directed requirement for the Department of Veteran Affairs (VA) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development to publish guidelines to allow for temporary, transitional case management by Public Housing Authorities instead of the VA in areas in which Public Housing Authorities have vouchers that are available and allocated but are underutilized due to the lack of VA referrals.
    • “No veteran should experience homelessness because of bureaucratic red tape,” said Senator Padilla. “With so much on the line for our veterans and housing crisis, it is critical that we give back to those who have given so much for our country.”
  • Expanding the USDA Farm Worker Coordinator Role to Better Support Farm Workers: Language included in the bill echoes Padilla’s Voice for Farm Workers Act and Supporting Our Farm and Food System Workforce Act to request that USDA explores options to streamline and coordinate existing Federal programs that impact farm workers.
    • “Farm workers who work tirelessly to put food on our tables deserve a seat at the table,” said Senator Padilla. “I am hopeful that the USDA will heed Congress’ call and follow through on my work to better integrate farm workers’ key priorities and viewpoints, bolster farm worker support programs, and improve outreach to these vital communities who feed our nation.”
  • Coordinating Homelessness Services and Behavioral Health Care: The bill includes language and funding based on Padilla’s Coordinating Substance Use and Homelessness Care Act of 2022 to better coordinate efforts and provide direct technical assistance to communities offering housing-related supportive services and behavioral care.
    • “On any given night, hundreds of thousands of people experience homelessness across the country, many of whom are also dealing with mental health or behavioral health challenges,” said Senator Padilla. “This bill will help streamline and coordinate much-needed additional health and housing services to more effectively address the homelessness and behavioral health crises in California and across the nation.”
  • Securing Strong Support and No Less Than $300 Million for the Mars Sample Return Mission: The funding package reiterates Congress’ commitment to the Mars Sample Return (MSR) mission, led by California’s Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL), and provides no less than $300 million in funding for the Mars Sample Return Program. The bill slams NASA’s decision to cut jobs without Congressional consultation and directs NASA to hold off on further decisions until a report on MSR’s schedule is sent to Congress.
    • “The funding agreement passed today is a step in the right direction to ensure that California continues to lead our nation’s space program,” said Senator Padilla. “I will keep fighting to ensure that NASA sufficiently funds JPL’s Mars Sample Return mission to prevent further loss of essential, highly-skilled workers.”
  • Language on PL-280 that Padilla pushed for, which directs the Department of the Interior to conduct Tribal consultation on the budgetary needs of Tribal law enforcement in PL-280 states such as California, and to report on the available federal funding for these tribes and outline the barriers to developing this funding. In 1953, Congress enacted Public Law 83-280, or “PL-280,” over the unanimous objection of Tribal governments and without any meaningful tribal consultation. The law ceded criminal jurisdiction over tribal lands from the federal government to certain states, greatly undermining public safety on tribal land in California. This requirement is similar to the GAO report that Padilla requested on the topic.
  • Language that expresses support for the Inflation Reduction Act funding that the Bureau of Reclamation has committed to the Salton Sea and reminds Reclamation that they need to continue requesting additional funding in future budget requests.
  • Language requested by Padilla directing Reclamation to impose a 25 percent cost-share on desalination projects and to waive the $30 million per-project cap so projects can receive more federal funding.
  • Language directing the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to acquire two new aircraft to replace aging WP-30 Hurricane Hunter aircraft.

Additional funding highlights of the FY 24 appropriations package include:

  • Full funding for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), over a $1 billion increase from the previous fiscal year. This funding will serve projected caseloads, avoid putting our most vulnerable families on waitlists, and maintain the increased fruit and vegetable benefit. 
  • $4.05 billion for the Homeless Assistance Grants program, a $418 million increase above Fiscal Year 2023, to fund programs such as permanent supportive housing, homelessness prevention, emergency shelter, a cost of living adjustment to help providers hire and retain qualified personnel, and more.
  • $1.34 billion for the Native American Housing Block Grant Program, which is a record funding amount for this program.
  • $125 million for the Outdoor Recreation Legacy Partnership Program, which builds urban parks in disadvantaged, park poor communities. Padilla’s Outdoors for All Act would codify this urban parks program and expand outdoor recreational opportunities in urban and low-income communities across the nation.
  • Up to $100 million for enhanced geothermal system demonstrations and next-generation demonstration projects in diverse geographic areas. Padilla and four other Senators specifically pushed for this funding last month.
  • $90 million in loan authority for the Presidio Trust to help them unlock federal funding for needed water infrastructure projects.
  • $54.5 million for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s San Francisco Bay Geographic Program. Padilla’s San Francisco Bay Restoration Act previously authorized the program to help protect and clean up the San Francisco Bay.
  • $28.6 million for continued development and expansion of the ShakeAlert West Coast earthquake early warning system.
  • $10 million for Forecast Informed Reservoir Operations (FIRO) to improve U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reservoir operations to increase water conservation and reliability, while maintaining flood control and enhanced public safety during extreme precipitation events.
  • $9.8 million to continue the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Coastal Ocean Data System base program activities, including for long-term coastal wave and coastal sediment observations, research, and data products that support sustainable coastal and navigation projects.
  • $8 million for space-based wildfire detection technologies and warning systems.
  • $7 million for wildfire smoke preparedness grants. These grants will be distributed on a competitive basis to States, federally recognized Tribes, local educational agencies, and non-profit organizations, for assessment, prevention, control, or abatement of wildfire smoke hazards in community buildings.
  • $5 million for Wildfire Smoke Taint research to help growers and processors establish science-based threshold levels of smoke compounds that cause smoke-tainted grapes, identify the compounds responsible for smoke taints, develop mitigation methods to reduce or eliminate smoke taint, and conduct research into compounds that can act as a barrier between the grapes and the smoke compounds. Last year, Padilla introduced two pieces of legislation to better protect winegrape growers in California, Washington, and Oregon, the top three states for wine production in the U.S., against wildfire smoke damage.
  • $3 million for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Rural and Low-Income Water Assistance Pilot Program needs assessment authorized in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
  • $1 million for the U.S. Weather Service’s Subseasonal to Seasonal Weather Prediction research program to seed innovative research testbeds including a pilot project for forecasts for water management in the western United States.
  • $900,000 for the Advanced Quantitative Precipitation Information System, a regional radar array demonstration project to enable better forecasting of extreme West Coast precipitation events, like atmospheric rivers.
  • $500,000 for strawberry production research to address the highly perishable, delicate, and labor-intensive nature of strawberry production. 

A summary of the first FY 2024 Appropriations minibus package is available here.

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