June 14, 2018

Spending Bill with Manchin Provisions to Fully Fund Green Bank Observatory, End to BOP Overreliance on Augmentation and Passage of Skylar's Law Pass Appropriations Committee

Senator Manchin also secured funding for opioids, rural communities and economic development

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) secured funding for top West Virginia priorities in the FY19 Commerce, Justice, Science, Interior & Environment and Legislative Branch spending bills, which were passed by the full Appropriations Committee today.

Senator Manchin included provisions to preserve current and future operations at the Green Bank Observatory, end the Bureau of Prisons’ overreliance on augmentation and implement Senator Manchin’s bill, Skylar’s Law, which would establish a network that would immediately notify the public when an abduction has taken place. Senator Manchin also fought to include funding to fight the opioid epidemic, deploy broadband to rural communities and economic development in West Virginia.

“I’m glad this bill passed out of the Appropriations Committee because it included huge wins for West Virginia. I made sure that this legislation included Skylar’s Law, full funding for the Green Bank Observatory and a provision to end the Bureau of Prison’s overreliance on augmentation practices that put our correctional officers and inmates at risk and contributed to the death of an inmate in West Virginia last year. I also made sure to include language that recognizes what the residents of Minden are going through, encouraged the FBI to fix pay issues that affect officers in Clarksburg, and included funding that will help West Virginia fight the opioid epidemic, ensure that rural communities in West Virginia get their fair share of funding and grow economic development in West Virginia. Now my top priority will be making sure these West Virginia wins stay in the final spending bill,” Senator Manchin said.

Here is a full list of West Virginia priorities Senator Manchin secured in the spending bills that passed today:

Commerce, Justice, Science & Related Agencies:

  • Skylar’s Law: Directs the Secretary to establish a National Endangered Missing Advisory network that would enable immediate public notification regardless of evidence of abduction. Senator Manchin introduced Skylar’s law in December following the death of Skylar Neese, who was murdered by two friends. No AMBER Alert was sent out for her disappearance because it did not meet the strict criteria for an AMBER Alert.

  • Green Bank: Report language ensuring full funding and continued NASA and NSF support for operations at the Green Bank Observatory. Senator Manchin has been working with the Observatory, NASA and the National Science Foundation to ensure its continued operation. Read his latest efforts here.

  • Bureau of Prisons: Directs the Bureau of Prisons to curtail its overreliance on augmentation which allows BOP to move any employees – secretaries, teachers, case managers, etc. – to the front lines enforcing security at federal correctional facilities, regardless of the department the staff member usually works in. In March, Senator Manchin sent a letter to former Bureau of Prisons director Marc Inch urging him to end overreliance on augmentation. He also sent a letter in April highlighting the $106 million in additional funding he helped secure in the FY18 omnibus bill to hire more full-time correctional officers.

  • Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Police Officers:  Directs the FBI to report on the retention rate and pay of FBI police, which are given lower pay and fewer benefits.  This results in high turnover and low morale.  Senator Manchin’s language would encourage the FBI to work with OPM to fix this problem.

  • Rural Broadband: First-time authorization allowing EDA to use funds in support of broadband infrastructure as well as strong report language directing the Commerce Department to ensure broadband access and improve mapping in rural areas through the National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA).

  • Opioids: Within DOJ, significant funding aimed at combatting the opioid and heroin epidemic, including $360 million for the Opioid Initiative, $80 million for drug courts ($5 million more than FY18), and $90 million for Second Chance Act Programs (+$5 million), as well as significant funding targeting fentanyl detection.

  • RESTORE-L: language was added to help clarify how NASA intends to work with organizations like the West Virginia Robotics and Technology Center to commercialize satellite servicing technology.

  • Rural Funding: Report language throughout the bill and Committee report highlighting the needs of rural and underserved, and requiring agencies to ensure the equitable geographic distribution of funds and an appropriate balance of rural and urban needs

  • Restored Funding: Not only restored but increased funding for a number of programs and agencies important to West Virginia that were proposed for elimination by the administration, including Economic Development Administration, Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership, NASA RESTORE-L satellite servicing program, and the Legal Services Corporation, among others.

  • EDA: $305.5 million for the Economic Development Administration ($4 million more than FY18), which provides critical grant funding to help foster innovation and rebuild our nation’s small, rural communities. This also includes $25 million for EDA’s Regional Innovation Program, with a 40% set aside for rural communities.

  • Census: Increased support and funding for the 2020 Decennial Census.

Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies:

  • PCB Contamination in Minden, WV: Report language recognizing the persistent PCB (polychlorinated biphenyls) issues in Minden. A contaminated facility has been listed as a SuperFund site since 1984. Residents of the community are facing higher rates of cancer than the rest of Fayette County.  The report language recognizes the high rates of cancer experienced by residents of Minden, and urges the EPA to regularly report to the West Virginia delegation their efforts in Minden.

  • Canaan Valley National Wildlife Refuge: Report language recognizing the Fish and Wildlife forthcoming construction for a new visitors center at the Canaan, and urging the FWS to consider and prioritize LEED certification as a goal for the new visitors center.

  • Land and Water Conservation Fund: $425 million for LWCF, which supports the protection and conservation of public lands. LWCF has been used to ensure and improve access in many areas in West Virginia, including New River Gorge National River, and Harpers Ferry National Historical Park.

  • Chesapeake Bay Geographic Program: West Virginia is part of the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, the largest estuary in the nation. The Interior and Environment mark includes $73 million for the EPA’s Chesapeake Bay cleanup program.

  • EPA Coal Combustion Residuals Permit Program: $8 million for the EPA to provide for state coal combustion residuals (CCR) permit programs. Senator Manchin’s Coal Combustion Residuals Regulatory Improvement Act was included in S. 612, the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act or the WIIN Act in 2016 first authorized the approval of state programs for control of coal combustion residuals.

  • Wood Education Research Center: $500,000 increase for the Forest Service research facility located in Princeton, West Virginia. The WERC is the go-to for the hardwood manufacturing industries located in the 35 states of the eastern hardwood forest region.

Legislative Branch:

  • Congressional Research Service: Report language that ensures the Congressional Research Service is able to make their non-confidential materials available to the public.