WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), the first Delaware Senator in more than four decades to serve on the critical Appropriations Committee, joined his colleagues on the committee to approve the appropriations bill for Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies as well as the Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies bill. Both of these bills passed out of the Appropriations Committee and are now ready for debate by the full Senate.
“Serving on the Appropriations Committee is a unique opportunity to deliver federal resources to Delaware, and that’s exactly what I’m working to accomplish with these appropriations bills,” said Senator Coons. “I’ve been working hard to ensure that these appropriations bills continue to include funding for critical Delaware priorities, like our highways, airports, and rail lines that Delawareans rely on. For too long, the appropriations process has been partisan and dysfunctional, but thankfully, we’ve been able to work together this year to fund programs and priorities that Senators on both sides of the aisle support. That’s the way Washington is supposed to work, and I’m excited to continue working with my Republican and Democratic colleagues to deliver for Delawareans and all Americans.”
Support for Transportation Infrastructure
Senator Coons fought for $1.94 billion in funding for Amtrak, $300 million for Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair grants, and $255 million for Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) grants. This funding will help keep passenger rail operating safely and efficiently throughout the Northeast Corridor, as well as throughout the country. Senator Coons also fought for $4.1 billion for the Airport Improvement Program and $46 billion for the Federal-Aid Highways Program. The Airport Improvement Program has funded many upgrades in the past few years at a number of airports throughout the state. Funding for the Federal-Aid Highways Program supports Delaware highway systems by providing financial assistance for construction, maintenance, and operations.
Senator Coons also fought for $1 billion for the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant program, formerly known as TIGER grants. While President Trump had proposed eliminating the BUILD grant program, the Appropriations Committee has continued to support it. The BUILD grant program is extremely popular, helping fund a wide variety of infrastructure projects through a competitive grant process. This program helps state and local governments pay for new highways and bridges, public transit projects, railways, and port infrastructure; and finances innovative shovel-ready projects to improve the U.S. transportation system. Delaware has received BUILD grants that have been used to design and build the Newark rail station, improve the Port of Wilmington, and build the new Claymont station. The most recent BUILD grant awarded to Delaware will be used to improve the intersection of US 9, Airport Road, and Sand Hill Road in Georgetown.
Support for HOME Investment Partnerships Program
Senator Coons secured $1.362 billion for the HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME). The HOME program serves as the only federal block grant program for state and local governments designed exclusively to produce affordable housing for low-income families. Since 1992, the HOME program has created more than 1.27 million affordable homes and helped provide direct rental assistance to over 337,000 low-income families. The program provides a flexible resource to meet communities’ highest priority affordable housing needs like tenant-based rental assistance, rehabilitation of affordable rental and ownership housing, and construction of affordable housing. The program also has an exceptionally broad reach, serving urban, suburban, and rural communities and providing vital resources for seniors, persons with disabilities, the homeless, and veterans. The Delaware State Housing Authority leveraged HOME funding to repair and save affordable rental properties in Millsboro and in Dover. The City of Wilmington and New Castle County governments came together with HOME funding to build a new affordable senior housing at Sacred Heart Village II, and New Castle County put HOME funding to work to preserve affordable housing for seniors in Newark.
Support for Community Development Block Grants
Senator Coons fought for $3.365 billion for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program. CDBG funding supports homeownership, housing rehabilitation, public improvements, and economic development projects while encouraging additional local investment. Every $1.00 of CDBG funds leverages an additional $4.09 in other funding. CDBG makes its way into local economies through an extensive network of local organizations and remains a necessary resource for families and communities. In Delaware, CDBG funding helped residents in Pinetown and Georgetown address long-standing housing rehabilitation and infrastructure development issues, made home ownership possible for New Castle County residents through the Housing Choice Voucher Program, and kept struggling homeowners tackle essential repairs that allowed them to stay in their homes.
Support for Other Housing Programs
Senator Coons also fought for increased funding for Section 8 Project-Based Rental Assistance at $11.74 billion, Section 8 Tenant-Based Rental Assistance at $22.78 billion, and Homeless Assistance Grants at $2.612 billion. The formula based funding for Fiscal Year 2018, has already been distributed to the states. Delaware received $7.9 million in homeless assistance grant funding which supports 27 programs across the state – 17 of which serve families with children – with emergency shelter beds, permanent supportive housing, and rapid rehousing programs. This recent funding allows Delaware’s housing community to implement an innovative program to serves all homeless families with temporary safe shelter accommodations, and case management support and temporary financial assistance to help them move back into housing as quickly as possible and remain stably housed.
Support for National Guard Priorities
Senator Coons helped secure $190.1 million for Army National Guard military construction and $139.1 million for Air National Guard military construction nationwide. This funding will support various missions vital to both Delaware and broader U.S. national security. It ensures Guardsmen are able to fulfill their dual missions of supporting civilian authorities at home and U.S. military efforts abroad.