Coons, Carper tout benefits for Delaware in federal spending bill

Sens. Chris Coons and Tom Carper have both touted the $1.3 trillion bipartisan appropriations bill approved last week by Congress as a win for Delaware.

“When Congress is gridlocked, the annual spending bill is one of the best opportunities we have to authorize and fund key programs that Delaware and our entire country rely on. While this bill isn’t perfect, and both parties had to compromise to reach an agreement, I believe this bill provides important investments in our military and domestic programs that will make a real difference across the country,” said Coons.

The spending bill passed as part of a package of legislation supporting environmental initiatives, infrastructure projects and education funding, among other areas. Here are some of the highlights:

The bill designated $5 million to implement the Delaware River Basin Conservation Act, which seeks to protect the basin from environmental harm, and maintained the $73 million annual investment in the multi-state Chesapeake Bay Program.

The FARM Act, which passed as part of the omnibus, exempts livestock farmers from reporting emissions from animal waste. Coons and Carper said the bill would provide certainty to local farmers (though some have criticized the bill for neglected the environmental health of southern Delaware).

The bill includes $8.5 million for Delaware’s transportation needs, including much-needed repairs. The Wilmington area alone will receive $2.4 million of the funds.

The Diesel Emissions Reduction Act, first introduced by Sen. Carper in 2005, will get $15 million towards continuing the work of retrofitting diesel vehicles.

Delaware State University will have access to $244.7 million in funding set aside for historically black colleges and universities (HBCU).

The senators said the final bill differed significantly from President Donald Trump’s original budget proposal.

“The final spending bill for fiscal year 2018 is a rejection of President Trump’s budget proposal that sought to undermine environmental protections, failed to invest in rebuilding our infrastructure and ignored the needs of our veterans, families and communities,” said Carper.

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