Appropriations bills will help rural Oregonians

WASHINGTON D.C. — The U.S. Senate approved appropriations bills last week dealing with research, public safety, housing, transportation, natural resources and emergency preparedness, according to news releases from the offices of Oregon two senators, Jeff Merkley, who sits on the Senate Appropriations bill and Ron Wyden.

One provision in the Department of Interior spending bill of major interest in Malheur County was the $500 million set aside for the Payment In Lieu of Taxes program which sends found to Oregon counties that have large tracts federal lands which are not charged property taxes.

Oregon’s senators were leaders in securing PILT Funding, which was $35 million above the president’s request.

Also of interest to western states, in particular, was the inclusion of $1.394 billion for fire suppression for Forest Service and Department of Interior, which includes the Bureau of Land Management. The bill provides for an additional $2.25 billion in additional funds for fire suppression if needed.

In the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill, more than $2 billion to deal with unaffordable rents and homelessness.

Key elements include homeless assistance grants, which provides $2.8 billion for organizations that serve the homeless, $3.7 million to promote coordination of federal agencies combatting homelessness and $1.25 billion to provide resources to address affordable housing challenges and $40 million to provide rental assistance for homeless veterans plus case management and clinical services.

Transportation funding includes $1 billion investment in transportation grants. A grant is being sought from this program to provide additional funds for the Treasure Valley Reload Center Project.

Housing funding include continuing the Community Development Block Grants, funding for affordable housing programs and funding for rural low income housing projects.

The Senate passed bills have to be merged with similar House Bills and be passed by both bodies before going to the president.