by Todd DeFeo
A massive appropriations bill the U.S. House passed includes billions in federal spending proponents say will benefit Ohio and the Great Lakes region.
H.R. 7617, a $1.3 trillion “minibus” package, contains six appropriations measures for various federal agencies — including the defense, justice, transportation and energy departments — for the 2021 fiscal year. The House passed the bill by a vote of 217-197.
The Energy and Water Development portion of the bill, which includes funding for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, includes $49.6 billion for “energy and water development programs,” according to Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio-09). Kaptur said the bill “captures the American spirit of ingenuity and independence” and will “propel real economic growth.”
“It provides the foundation of critical investments to combat climate change and is poised to be the most important climate change bill Congress passes this year,” she said. “It will upgrade and strengthen our nation’s energy and water infrastructure, and it responsibly funds our nation’s nuclear deterrent while rejecting the Administration’s dangerous plan to restart nuclear explosive testing.”
The bill, which faces an uncertain future in the GOP-controlled Senate, includes $123.2 million for the Soo Locks project, which is $47.9 million above the 2020 fiscal year budget. It also includes $59.2 million for new navigation projects on the inland waterways system, which is $9.2 million more than the previous year.
On the energy front, the measure includes $100 million for hydrogen/nuclear demonstration projects. Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station in Oak Harbor currently receives funds under the current partnership and can compete for future funds.
It also includes $120 million for the Portsmouth Cleanup Site.
However, a provision aimed at police reform is drawing the ire of Republicans. According to Rep. Marcia L. Fudge (D-Ohio-11) the bill implements components of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act and conditions federal grant funding for state and local law enforcement agencies on “significant improvements to police practices.”
President Donald Trump has threatened to veto the bill, Politico reported.
“The bills in the package passed today are particularly disappointing because they give in to the voices that want to defund the police, encourage illegal immigration, and reverse pro-life policies,” U.S. Rep. Kay Granger (R-Texas-12) said in a statement. “These bills jeopardize our nation’s safety and security, and they trample upon the rights and freedoms of the American people.
“While these bills support many important programs, there were too many fatal flaws that made them unacceptable,” Granger added. “These provisions must be reversed when these bills are finalized. That is the only way we will be able to produce bipartisan bills that the President can and will sign into law.”
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Todd DeFeo is a contributor to The Center Square.