Cortez Masto Applauds Signing of Veterans Affairs, Energy ‘Minibus’
As President Trump is poised to sign funding legislation for critical agencies, Cortez Masto touts legislative accomplishments including amendment to improve oversight of VA nursing homes and blocking federal funding for Yucca Mountain
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) today celebrated the signing of the ‘minibus I’ legislation that includes the Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs funding bills. The spending package passed in the Senate last week by a 92-5 vote.
Senator Cortez Masto secured numerous legislative victories for the State of Nevada including strong investments in renewable energy, nearly $97 million dollars for military construction projects in the state, improved oversight of VA nursing homes, and zero funding for the toxic Yucca Mountain project.
“This funding package is a major victory for Nevada. It provides billions of dollars in funding for state priorities like renewable energy and water conservation, much needed support for our veterans, and military construction projects that create good-paying jobs for Nevadans. And it includes my amendment to improve federal oversight of VA nursing homes because Nevada’s veterans deserve the best care we can provide.
“I am equally proud of what I was able to keep out of the funding package: federal funds for Yucca Mountain. I will continue to fight tooth and nail against plans to put a radioactive waste dump in Nevadans’ backyard. Nevadans can rest assured I will continue working to defend them and their interests in Washington.”
Below are Senator Cortez Masto’s priorities included in the “Minibus I” Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Funding Bill.
Energy and Water
The Minibus I Funding Bill secures funding for several important energy and water-related measures, providing the resources needed to invest in our water and energy infrastructure, bolster our green energy economy, preserve our environment, and keep our state safe and healthy.
Yucca Mountain: The Minibus I Funding Bill rejected all requests for funding to restart licensing and construction activities at Yucca Mountain. The bill does not appropriate any funding for Yucca Mountain.
Renewable Energy Development and Research: The legislation will help support the development of clean, renewable, and efficient energy technologies in America.
- Includes $2,379,000,000 for Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).
- Provides $6,585,000,000 in the Department of Energy’s Office of Science.
• The Senator also successfully pushed to ensure adequate funding for our nation’s five Photovoltaic (PV) Regional Test Centers (RTC) for Solar Technologies within the Department of Energy. The Nevada Regional Test Center (NV-RTC) is located in Henderson, Nevada, and is an integral part of the EERE’s Sunshot Initiative – which aims to reduce the price and increase the adoption of solar technologies.
Conservation: The minibus agreement secures funding for conservation efforts along the Colorado River system, an important water-source for Nevada.
• Senator Cortez Masto also fought for the inclusion of language to reauthorize the Colorado River System Conservation Pilot program, a collective effort by water districts and the federal government to fund voluntary water savings efforts and water conservation projects, until 2022.
Energy Efficiency: This legislation allocates $257,000,000 for the Weatherization Assistance Program, which helps low-income households reduce their energy costs by increasing the energy efficiency of their homes
Tribal Communities: This legislation provides $1,000,000 to the Tribal Energy Loan Guarantee Program, which provides economic opportunities to tribes through energy development projects and activities.
Military Construction and Veterans Affairs
The Minibus I legislation increases the funding for a variety of programs within the Department of Veterans Affairs. It prioritizes our nation’s veterans, military service members, and military families. In addition, the bill provides funding to four important military construction projects in Nevada.
VA Nursing Home Oversight: The legislation includes an amendment sponsored by Senator Cortez Masto that requires the Department of Veterans Affairs Inspector General’s office to conduct an investigation of all VA Community Living Centers (CLCs) rated with a one-star rating in the past two years.
- A report on best practices that would improve the performance of VA CLCs that perform poorly on VA's ranking system is expected by January 2019.
Veterans Affairs: The Minibus I Funding Bill will help bolster and expand the services under the Department of Veterans Affairs, ensuring that veterans from Nevada and throughout the United States continue to receive the top quality care they deserve.
- Secures $2.956 billion in funding to speed up the claims processing for more than 450k veterans who are waiting for compensation they deserve. This funding will also allow VA to hire more staff to manage the disability appeals backlog.
- Prioritizes the modernization of the VA's electronic health record system by providing $1.1 million to update their systems and help provide seamless care to veterans as they transition from military service to civilian life.
- Allocates $400 million dollars for opioid treatment and prevention programs.
- This bill provides $270 million to rural veteran health initiatives, which includes money for justice outreach programs. These programs give veterans encountered by police, in jails, and in court system timely access to the substance abuse treatment or prevention programs they need.
- Secures $206 million for suicide prevention efforts, an increase of over $16 million from last year’s appropriations. Nevada has one of the highest veteran suicide rates in the country, and this funding will help Nevada’s veterans receive crucial medical help and treatment.
- This bill allocates $86.5 billion in discretionary funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs, an increase of $5 billion above last year’s enacted level.
Military Construction: This legislation will also help to ensure that the men and women of our country’s armed forces have the infrastructure needed to carry out daily operations in defense of our country.
- Funds four military construction projects in the State of Nevada. These projects will receive the following funds:
- $32 million to build the National Guard Readiness Center in North Las Vegas.
- $31 million to build an MQ-9 Operations and Command Center Facility at Creech Air Force Base as part of an effort to implement the Air Force’s Culture and Process Improvement Program (CPIP).
- $28 million to build a permanent MQ-9 ground control station (GCS) at Creech Air Force Base as part of an effort to implement the Air Force’s Culture and Process and Improvement Program (CPIP).
- $5.9 million to build a combat rescue helicopter (CRH) simulator at Nellis Air Force Base.
- The bill continues rebuilding infrastructure for our service members and their families with a total of $10.3B for military construction projects. The bill prioritizes improving the quality of military family housing and enhancing anti-terrorism efforts, force protection, and safety on military installations.
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