This week, from his seat on the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., was able to secure funds for the Sunshine State as appropriations bills gained momentum in the upper chamber.
The committee passed the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill; the Homeland Security Appropriations bill; the State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations bill; the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill; and the Legislative Branch Appropriations bill.
Rubio’s fingerprints are all over those bills as he helped ensure Florida would benefit from them.
Pointing to the $35.8 billion Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, Rubio showcased the funds set aside for Everglades restoration efforts and for taking on coral disease and Harmful Algal Blooms, water quality, and wildlife. Rubio, who sits on the U.S. Senate Interior, Environmental, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee, also said he had received a pledge from U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, the chairwoman of the subcommittee, to “work together on a path forward to extend the current moratorium on oil drilling in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico.”
Rubio weighed in on the bill on Thursday.
“As a member of the Committee on Appropriations, I am proud to have worked with my colleagues to craft this funding bill which includes critical federal support for important Florida priorities, including for Everglades restoration, coral reefs, and hurricane recovery.” Rubio said. “I look forward to when the full Senate advances this measure to ensure continued progress for Florida’s environment and natural resources—cornerstones of our state’s economy.”
Rubio also helped shape the other bills which cleared the Appropriations Committee this week, including the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill which stood at $70.833 billion; the $70.7 billion Homeland Security Appropriations bill; the $55 billion State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations bill; and the $3.5 billion Legislative Branch Appropriations bill.
“I was proud to secure critical funding to keep our schools and communities safe and to ensure the federal government partners with the state and local governments to continue recovery efforts from recent natural disasters,” Rubio said on Thursday. “These bills also include support for many Florida priorities, including important funding to ensure Florida’s Space Coast can accommodate our booming space economy, as well as much needed research to restore our coral reefs. I was pleased to work with the committee to include a provision to help ensure the operational implementation of a website to host a clearinghouse for school safety and security best practices.
“I was also proud to secure critical funding to keep America safe and secure and advance human rights and democracy around the world, including countering the threat posed by the Chinese government and Communist Party and emerging challenges in our own Hemisphere, including in Cuba and Venezuela,” Rubio continued. “Funding for programs that promote democracy, prioritize global health, protect U.S. diplomats, and combat threats posed by authoritarian regimes remains imperative to our nation’s security.”
Rubio provisions in the FY2020 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill ($35.8 billion) include:
- Report languages and funding highlighting the critical progress towards Everglades Restoration.
- Report language acknowledges unique opportunity for Miami-Dade County to assist in land purchases and swaps to protect a vital project footprint to implement the Bird Drive Basin Conveyance, Seepage Collection and Recharge concept and achieve the goals of the original Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan Bird Drive Recharge Area project.
- Report language encourages the Department of Interior to work with the Federal and state partners to make progress towards completing an important element of the CERP. Additionally, expects the National Park Service to complete and transit the complete design package for the Tamiami Trail Next Steps Final Phase to the Florida Department of Transportation no later than February 28, 2020.
- Report language related to exotic plant management in Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, and up to $10 million in funding towards control of invasive species, with an emphasis on agency activities in the Everglades.
- Report language urges U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services to continue all efforts to consult and coordinate with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to expedite the biological opinions for the Central Everglades Planning Project South Phase and New Water Phase, including the Everglades Agricultural Area Storage Reservoir, to enable the initiation of construction critical elements of the CEPP in fiscal year 2020.
- Additional $100,000 for Florida Grasshopper Sparrow recovery efforts.
- Report language encouraging USFWS to contribute funding aligned with commitments established in the 2018 license agreement with the South Florida Water Management District towards the management of invasive plant infestations.
- Report language on Unknown Florida Panther Disorder: encourages the Service to assist FWC in increasing monitoring efforts to locate impacted animals, and work cooperatively with the state of Florida, including through the provision of technical assistance, to diagnose and determine the causes of this concerning disorder that could threaten the recovery of the endangered Florida panther.
- $3.7 million for land acquisition for Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge.
- $1.5 million for land acquisition for St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge.
- $400,000 for Coral Disease research, detection, and response (USGS).
- Report language noting grave ecological threats and public nuisance posed by many invasive species (including Burmese Pythons Lionfish) and directs USGS to prioritize research, detection, and response efforts.
- $44.5 million for USGS Climate Adaptation Centers.
- Report language recognizing increased challenges many communities face from Harmful Algal Blooms. Encourages agency to fund research grants that help promote scientific progress towards preventing and controlling HABs in freshwater and coastal ecosystems.
- $25 million bill-wide and report language for PFAS and contaminants of emerging concern.
- $4.704 million for the South Florida Geographic Program ($1.5 million increased).
- $1 million to monitor coral health in South Florida.
- $650,000 to enhance water quality and seagrass monitoring in Caloosahatchee Estuary and the Indian River Lagoon, especially with respect to assessing the impact of Lake Okeechobee discharges and HABs.
- $650,000 to enhance water quality and seagrass monitoring in Florida Bay and Biscayne Bay, especially with respect to assessing the impact of Everglades Restoration projects and HABs
- $20.5 million for Sewer Overflow Control Grants.
- $73 million for Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act.
- $1.639 million for Clean Water State Revolving Fund.
- $1.13 million for Clean Water State Revolving Fund.
- $28.9 million for the National Estuary program, including support for Florida four NEPs at Charlotte Harbor, Indian River Lagoon, Sarasota, and Tampa Bay.
- Report language related to the damages caused by Hurricane Michael on the Apalachicola National Forest/
- Report language supporting creation of the Museum of the American Latino within the Smithsonian Institution.
- $63.9 million for the Forest Legacy Program, including $2.9 million for Welannee Watershed Forest.
Rubio provisions in the FY2020 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill ($70.833 billion):
Combating violence and funding for community safety:
- $100 million for STOP School Violence Grants.
- $38 million for Regional Information Sharing Systems (RISS).
- $78.3M included for NCHIP grants, including $25M for NICS Improvements grants.
Funding for oceans and natural resources:
- Report language related to the Coral Reef Program, and providing up to $5 million for the agency to work with academic institutions and non-governmental research organizations to establish innovation restoration projects to restore degraded coral reefs.
- Report language provisions related to Gulf Reef Fish, including $2 million to support surveys, research, and sampling; Exempted Fishing Permits for Red Snapper Fishing, including $5 million; South Atlantic Reef Fish, including $1.5 million for stock assessments.
- Report language and $5 million to accelerate deployment of effective methods of intervention and mitigation to reduce the frequency, severity, and impact of Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) in freshwater systems. The report language encourages the agency to expand its collaboration with states to monitor, predict, track, and respond to HABs in the marine environment, and $1 million under Integrated Ocean Observing Systems for pilot programs to enhance the nation’s capacity to monitor and detect HABs.
- $55.5 million for Marine Sanctuaries .
- $27.5 million for the National Estuarine Research Reserve Systems, which may be used by Rookery Bay, Guana Tolomato Matanzas, and Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserves in Florida.
- $7.5 million for the Marine Debris Program.
- China and U.S. rare earth metals. Report language highlighting the economic and national security risks of China’s near monopoly on rare earth minerals. Encourages the Department to study the benefits and feasibility of a privately funded and managed Rare Earth Elements Manufacturing
- Cooperative based in the U.S. to minimize Chinese dominance in this critical area.
- Funding for NASA, Florida’s Space Coast, and small businesses.
- $6.2 billion for Exploration to advance NASA’s human exploration program, like the Artemis mission.
- $2.586 billion for the Space Launch System (SLS), including $300 million for concurrent Exploration Upper Stage deployment and procurement.
- $1.4 billion for the Orion crewed spacecraft to continue development of NASA’s next deep-space crewed capsule.
- $590 million for Exploration Ground Systems which is housed at Kennedy Space Center and was the top request in the NASA portfolio.
- $44.1 million for lunar lander development.
- $1.076 billion for Space Technology, a $149.5 million from FY19.
- Funds basic research to advance multi-purpose technologies and also includes funding for NASA’s SBIR programs, which many small businesses near Cape Canaveral and across the state use to create new approaches and technologies for NASA missions.
- Lunar Discovery and Exploration program fully funded at $300M.
- Full funding for the Commercial Crew and Cargo Program ($1.7266 billion) and Commercial Crew Program ($102 million) which partners with the U.S. commercial sector to develop and operate safe, reliable, and affordable crew transportation to low Earth orbit. Companies like SpaceX, Boeing, and ULA will restore American access to space from Florida and facilitate launching U.S. astronauts on U.S. vehicles to the International Space Station (ISS) during fiscal year 2020.
Report language provisions include:
- Language promoting commercial low-earth orbit development and maintaining the International Space Station with direct federal funding beyond 2025 until a viable alternative exists to achieve NASA’s objectives in LEO.
- Language for space flight support launch services, including approximately $21.5 million for launch vehicles of small payloads. Many of these payloads will be launched from Cape Canaveral.
- $210.8 million for SBIR/STTR and report language recognizing the importance of the Small Business Innovation Research program and its previous success in commercialization of results from federally funded research and development projects.
- Trade. Report language recognizing that strong trade enforcement is critical to promoting free, fair, and reciprocal trade. As the administration continues to pursue new and modified trade agreements with global partners, it encourages enhanced prioritization of compliance monitoring and the prosecution of enforced actions.
Rubio provisions in the FY2020 Homeland Security Appropriations bill ($70.7 billion):
- Countering Chinese-manufactured Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS). Report language outlining concerns with the threat of foreign-made drones, mainly Chinese-manufactured UAS, collecting intelligence on U.S. national security facilities and critical infrastructure.
- School Safety. A provision to direct the Department of Homeland Security to establish an operational school safety best practices clearinghouse website to serve as a centralized location for the federal government’s interagency efforts to develop and make available best practices regarding school safety and security. In October 2018, Rubio led a bipartisan and bicameral letter urging the Federal Commission on School Safety to include a recommendation that a central authority for school safety best practices be identified and a central location for best practices be implemented.
Funding to enhance Florida’s port and airport security:
- Funding and report language to support Customs and Border Protection in deploying additional officers, including supporting robust staffing levels at both cargo and passenger seaports and to improve clearance operations.
- $40 million in TSA funding to continue reimbursing airports—including Tampa, Orlando, Sarasota-Bradenton, Southwest Florida, and Jacksonville—that incurred costs associated with the development of a partial or completed in-line baggage system post 9/11.
- $165.7 million for TSA’s National Explosives Detection Canine Team Program to support the additional 50 canine teams added in FY2019 that will allow for better passenger throughput and enhanced security.
- $46.275 million for TSA’s Law Enforcement Officer Reimbursement Program.
- Funding for the U.S. Coast Guard.
- $457 million for the Offshore Patrol Cutter program, the Coast Guard’s highest recapitalization priority, which are being built by Eastern Shipbuilding Group in Panama City, Florida.
- $35 million to maintain the acquisition schedule for the Polar Security Cutter program, which will promote U.S. national security interests in the Arctic region to remain on-par with foreign near-peer competitors, like China and Russia. In March, Rubio urged the Coast Guard to maintain the program schedule.
Funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA):
- $17.8 billion for the Disaster Relief Fund.
- $600 million for Urban Area Security Initiative grants.
- $60 million for Nonprofit Security Grant Program.
- $100 million each for Port Security grants.
- $355 for Assistance to Firefighter Grants.
- $355 million for Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grants.
- $148 million for Flood Hazard Mapping and Risk Analysis Program.
- $2 million for Over-the-Road Bus Security Intercity Bus Security Grant Program.
- $525 million for the State Homeland Security Grant Program.
- $1 million to enable vulnerable water and wastewater utilities in coastal States along the Gulf of Mexico to better prepare for and respond to disasters.
- Report language encouraging FEMA to evaluate the need for new technologies, including an inventory of atmospheric water generation machines, to better prepare for disaster response.
- Report language to prioritize disaster preparedness and mitigation funding to states with high-risk hurricane districts.
Rubio provisions in the FY2020 State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs Appropriations bill ($55 billion):
Key provisions and funding to keep America safe and secure and advance democracy and human rights globally:
- $20 million to support democracy programs for Cuba.
- Report language on PAHO’s role in facilitating agreements to procure foreign medical professional missions from the Cuban government with other countries.
- $21 million for the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB).
- $30 million to support democracy programs in Venezuela.
- $403 million to support programs in Colombia.
- Rubio provision advancing the Bahamas recovery efforts following Hurricane Dorian.
- $2 million for Nicaragua Development Assistance Fund through CARSI.
- $20 million to address sexual and gender-based violence in Central America.
- $1.5 million for democracy programs for Hong Kong.
- $3.3 billion for Israel FMF pursuant to the U.S.-Israel MOU.
- $6.2 billion for global HIV/AIDS.
- $1.56 million for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.
- $61 million for Polio eradication efforts.
- $44 million for Radio Free Asia.
- $18 million for Tibet.
- $70 million for internet freedom programs.
- $1.4 billion for International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement.
- $2.8 billion for democracy programs.
- $360 million for the National Endowment for Democracy.
- Broadband Access in Cuba. The bill directs the USAGM Chief Executive Officer (CEO), in consultation with the Director of the Office of Cuba Broadcasting (OCB), to submit a report to Congress on the feasibility and cost of delivering satellite-based broadband Internet services to the people of Cuba, as well as establishing a Marti website to serve as an access point and news aggregator service. The report shall also review the potential for, and cost effectiveness of, increasing access to firewall circumvention tools and providing space-based communications technologies that are resistant to jamming.
Additional key funding to advance U.S. foreign policy:
- $375 million for a new Countering Chinese Influence Fund to combat malign Chinese influence activities and increase transparency and accountability associated with the Belt and Road Initiative.
- $2.6 billion to implement the Indo-Pacific Strategy.
- $275 million for the Countering Russian Influence Fund.
- $6.5 million for programs to promote international religious freedom.
Rubio provisions in the FY2020 Legislative Branch Appropriations bill ($3.5 billion):
- Chinese state-directed telecommunications companies. Language prohibiting the use of funds for acquiring telecommunications equipment produced by Huawei, ZTE or a high-impact or moderate-impact information system, unless the agency meets certain criteria which includes supply chain and cyber-espionage risk assessments in consultation with the FBI.
Reach Kevin Derby at email@example.com.