Following Assurances on Immigration, Curbelo Supports Government Spending Package with Multiple South Florida Priorities

Legislation includes disaster relief, defense, health, education, environmental priorities

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Washington, D.C., February 9, 2018 | Joanna Rodriguez (202-225-2778) | comments
Following assurances from Congressional Leadership both Chambers will move on immigration legislation that incorporates a pathway for DACA recipients, Representative Carlos Curbelo (FL-26) issued the following statement on his vote in favor of a government spending package that incorporates multiple South Florida priorities:

“When Hurricane Irma hit Florida last year, many hard-working Americans in my home state of Florida, and specifically many of my constituents in the Florida Keys, lost everything they owned, and some even lost their lives. The community has come together to help their neighbors and begin the long road to recovery from the damage caused by the storm’s 130 miles-per-hour winds and significant storm surge. Despite substantial progress, Keys Recovery in my district still has ways to go. The same can be said of recovery efforts in California, Texas, Louisiana, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands as they recover from natural disasters.

“The increased disaster funding, increased budget caps on domestic and military spending, and numerous South Florida priorities in this legislation will do a lot of good for our community and the country, and fortunately, there is hope immigration will be addressed by Congress soon.

“The main obstacles to a compromise on immigration that delivers a fair, permanent solution for young immigrants brought to our country as children and secures the border so future illegal entry is discouraged and diminished have been Congressional Leaders’ refusal to allow each Chamber to consider legislation on the Floor and the objections of extremists in both parties. However, this week, Members of Congress and the American people have received public assurances from Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell both Chambers will make immigration their next priority.‎

“I am now more hopeful than ever a solution on DACA is within reach. With this significant development, I was proud to support today’s spending measure to keep the government open so we can move onto the important issue of immigration.”

Curbelo Legislative Priorities in Today’s Spending Package 

  • This legislation includes a massive disaster relief package that includes: 
  • Over $80 billion in emergency disaster relief to provide additional funding for recovery efforts across the country while communities in Florida, California, Texas, Louisiana, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands continue to recover; 
  • Critical funding for the Disaster Relief Fund, Army Corps of Engineers, Agriculture, SBA disaster loans, Federal Highways, and Housing;
  • Disaster-related tax relief to survivors of the California wildfires and other communities affected by hurricanes; and
  • Stabilizes Medicaid Programs in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands with $4.9 billion provided to increase Medicaid caps for Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands for two years.
  • The legislation includes increased spending for multiple energy and environmental priorities including: 
  • The Climate Solutions Caucus supported Technologies for Energy Security Act, which extends and phases out tax credits for renewable and alternative energy technologies, such as geothermal, small wind and combined heat and power, to bring more of these innovative technologies to market for commercial and residential use;
  • $400 million to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) for marine debris removal, mapping of affected areas, improved weather forecasting and other activities.
  • $17.39 billion for the Army Corps of Engineers with $1.86 billion for emergency response and $15.55 billion would fund projects meant to reduce the risks of damage from future severe weather events;
  • $63.2 million to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to assist in the clean-up and inspection of Superfund, hazardous waste and leaking underground storage tank sites;
  • $8.7 million to the Department of Energy (DOE) to repair damages sustained at SPR sites due to hurricanes;
  • $13 million to the DOE’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability for responding to electric grid damage,
  • $119.7 million to the Forest Service for mitigation and restoration efforts;
  • Credit for Production from Advanced Nuclear Power Facilities, which allows the Secretary of the Treasury, after January 1, 2021, to re-allocate any of the national 6,000 megawatt capacity that is unused, first to qualifying facilities to the extent such facilities did not receive an allocation equal to their full capacity, and then to facilities placed in service after such date; and
  • Enhancement of Carbon Dioxide Sequestration Tax Credit, which modifies the existing credit for carbon dioxide sequestration.
  • The legislation includes spending for multiple healthcare priorities including: 
  • Expanded access to telehealth services;
  • Robust Funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), specifically $1 billion for FY18 and $1 billion for FY19;
  • Extension of funding for Community Health Centers;
  • 10-year reauthorization of CHIP;
  • $6 Billion to fight the opioid epidemic and treat mental health issues; and
  • Repeal of the Independent Advisory Board (IPAB) created by the ACA – there was bipartisan support to repeal because of concern regarding arbitrary cuts to Medicare.
  • The legislation includes direct assistance for Puerto Rico as they continue to recover from Hurricanes Irma and Maria including:
  • The creation of Opportunity Zones Rule for Puerto Rico similar to those created by the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in the mainland United States, which would expand the areas that could qualify for Opportunity Zone designation to include all census tracts within Puerto Rico;
  • Extension of the tax deduction allowable with respect to income attributable to domestic production activities in Puerto Rico; and
  • Modifications to Rum Cover Over, which extends the rum cover over through the end of 2021 and maintains the cover-amount as being based on $13.25 per proof gallon of rum imported into the U.S. regardless of actual tax collected.
  • The legislation includes multiple defense and veterans’ priorities
  • Unwinding sequestration cuts to defense spending;
  • Breaks the spending “parity” by giving defense a larger funding increase than non-defense discretionary spending; and
  • Provisions to reduce the maintenance backlog at the Veterans Administration.
  • The legislation includes language requiring simplified filing forms for tax returns for use by persons who are age 65 or older by the close of the taxable year.
  • The legislation includes the reauthorization of the Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program, an evidence-based program that supports families and improves outcomes for children, for 5 years.
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