Funding included in fiscal year 2024 Senate funding bills champion Oregon manufacturing, employment training opportunities, and enhanced emergency response coordination

Friday, July 14, 2023

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, as a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced he secured major economic development and community safety improvement investments for the state in the FY24 Senate Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) bill and Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) bill. The bills passed out of committee with bipartisan support.

Federal funding in the bills include a total of $15,510,000 for 14 community-initiated projects throughout the state, as well as key investments to support programs and projects that boost job creation and innovation—particularly in rural, coastal, and underserved communities—and public safety system upgrades that will better protect Oregon communities from wildfire threats and other disasters.

“As I hold a town hall for each of Oregon’s 36 counties every year, I hear from folks about what matters most to them, including robustly supporting Oregon’s economic development and ensuring our communities are prepared should disasters strike,” Merkley said. “The community-initiated projects funded in these bills will boost rural and coastal infrastructure and salmon recovery efforts, and help upgrade public safety and emergency alert systems to keep Oregonians safe during disasters.”

Merkley is the only Oregon member of Congress from either chamber since Senator Mark Hatfield to serve on the Appropriations Committee, which is considered to be one of the most powerful on Capitol Hill. He joined the committee in 2013 so that Oregon would have a strong voice in decisions about the investments our nation should be making.

Senator Merkley, along with Senator Ron Wyden, secured investments for a total of 14 Oregon community-initiated projects in the Senate FSGG and CJS spending bills.

The six community-initiated projects included in the FSGG bill are as follows:

  • $1,500,000 for the City of Boardman to construct a new facility to support new and emerging businesses with the space they need to operate. The incubator building will especially focus on enhancing opportunities for minority business enterprises and low-income populations in an underserved area of Morrow County.
  • $1,500,000 to Regional Rural Revitalization—an Oregon intergovernmental agency—to help facilitate public-private partnerships between emerging small businesses and public sector agencies for small frontier cities, including Lakeview, Burns, and John Day. The funding will be used to help source the needed expertise and capacity for projects that may not otherwise be available in rural and frontier communities.
  • $500,000 to expand the City of Portland’s Small Business Digital Navigator Training Program—which supports targeted technical assistance, training, and other activities leading to the development or expansion of small and emerging private businesses and BIPOC entrepreneurs—and hire an English-Spanish speaking staff member.
  • $500,000 for Elderberry Wisdom Farm in Salem to expand their agricultural business accelerator to provide culturally specific technical assistance to Indigenous people interested in establishing or growing their agricultural business.
  • $488,000 for the Archives for the Public, which includes four projects that preserve, organize, digitize, and make accessible unique primary materials cared for by four Oregon institutions: the Oregon Historical Society based in Portland, Oregon Black Pioneers based in Salem, the Maxville Heritage Interpretive Center (MHIC) based in Joseph, and the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association (CCBA) based in Portland.
  • $30,000 for the Lane County Historical Museum to expand access to physical and online archive materials. This project comprises the expansion of a publicly accessible reading room and research space that lowers barriers to accessing library and archive materials and online subscription-based history research resources.

For quotes from community-initiated project recipients included in the FSGG bill, click HERE.

The eight community-initiated projects included in the CJS bill are as follows:

  • $2,521,000 for the Oregon Kelp Alliance to help address marine habitat loss while providing benefits for community well-being, ecosystem services, climate resilience, and biodiversity. This project will restore 3-6 hectares of declining kelp forest habitat and benefit various coastal communities by increasing essential fish habitat, business opportunities in ecotourism and recreation, as well as enhancing job opportunities in kelp restoration work.
  • $2 million for Lake County to upgrade its current public safety interoperable radio and microwave system. Lake County is Oregon’s third largest county by land area, and the funding will help modernize its microwaves and radios so public safety agencies in the south end of county can hear the north end public safety radio traffic. This project will address major officer safety issues, better handle call volume increases, and support more reliable, clear radio communication in the event of emergencies.
  • $1.8 million for Marion County to install an emergency announcement system with loudspeakers in strategic locations in the Santiam Canyon. This will help ensure community members are notified of emergencies, such as wildfire, flooding, landslides, or dam failures given the unreliable phone and radio service in the remote area.
  • $1,359,000 to help the City of Portland expedite the launch of a body worn cameras program for officers and help ensure the longevity of the program to support further safety and transparency in law enforcement.
  • $1,087,000 to help fund a fisheries vulnerability assessment through Oregon State University to provide timely, science-based information to better support science-informed community engagement in the Floating Offshore Wind development process.  
  • $1,045,000 for the Oregon Institute of Technology to purchase solar manufacturing research equipment to create a Thin Film Research & Development Center at OIT’s Wilsonville campus, allowing students hands-on training and the potential for industry partnerships. 
  • $880,000 to help the City of Medford acquire a Mobile Incident Command Center which will provide a central hub for coordinating emergency response and significantly enhance regional resiliency among the City of Medford and its partners throughout the Rogue Valley. 
  • $300,000 to support the final major equipment needs for the Columbia Gorge Community College’s Advanced Manufacturing Program, which consists of two labs used by all programs offered by CGCC, high school pathway programs, and local businesses in the area.  

For quotes from community-initiated project recipients included in the CJS bill, click HERE.

Other key funding for Oregon communities in the bills that passed out of the Appropriations Committee include:

Economic Development Administration (EDA): $396 million was secured for the program through the CJS bill. The EDA leverages existing regional assets to support economic development in rural communities. 

Small Business Development: The FSGG bill includes $320 million to support entrepreneurial and small business development.

Mass Timber Expansion: The FSGG bill includes language encouraging the General Services Administration to partner with the innovative wood products industry to expand the use of mass timber and other innovative wood products in Federal buildings and for future construction projects.

Klamath Basin Salmon Restoration: As historic dam removal continues in the Klamath River Basin, it is vital for NOAA and other federal agencies to have a comprehensive strategy for habitat restoration and recovery of salmon to the Basin. The CJS bill directs NOAA to develop an investment strategy for the entire Basin in anticipation for the completion of the dam removal.

Salmon Management: Salmon population management programs, including the operations and maintenance of Mitchell Act hatcheries and the implementation of the Pacific Salmon Treaty, received $23.5 million and $41 million respectively, in the CJS bill. The Committee included $41 million to support the implementation of Pacific Salmon Treaty.

Salmon Recovery: The Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund received $65 million in the CJS bill. The competitive grant program is designed to address declining Pacific salmon and steelhead populations by supporting conservation efforts in California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Alaska. 

Sea Grant Program: Merkley secured $14 million for the Sea Grant Program in the CJS bill. The program is a priority for Oregon State University and uses targeted local investments to create economic growth, sustainable fisheries, and resilient coastal communities.

Coastal Zone Management: The Coastal Zone Management grants were funded at $81.5 million in the CJS bill. The program works with Oregon and other coastal states to address some of today’s most pressing coastal issues — climate change, ocean planning, and planning for energy facilities and development. These grants help protect natural resources, improve public access, facilitate coordination between state and federal authorities, and manage hazardous areas.

Wine Labeling: The FSGG bill secured $5 million for the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau to accelerate label applications, helping Oregon businesses get their new products to customers sooner.

Tribal Grants and Victim Assistance: Historically, the Native and Tribal community in Oregon has been disenfranchised in law enforcement, health outcomes, and victims’ rights. To address these critical issues, the committee approved a total of $139 million in grant funding for various programs, including $60 million for tribal assistance, $37 million for tribal resources, and $6 million for the Office of Violence Against Women for a special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction program.

Addressing Violence Against Women: The CJS bill contains $732 million, the highest funding level ever, for grants provided by the Office on Violence Against Women. This funding supports multiple grant programs that support training for police officers and prosecutors, state domestic violence and sexual assault coalitions, rape prevention programs, domestic violence hotlines, and women’s shelters and transitional housing support services.

Transnational Repression: The Senate Appropriations Committee included provisions from Senator Merkley directing the FBI to address transnational repression, which is when foreign governments seek to stifle dissent against individuals who live outside of their borders. This language will enable the FBI to provide specialized training to its employees on how to identify different tactics of transnational repression to protect Americans abroad and diaspora communities within the U.S., including through the FBI’s own tip lines.

Now these bills have cleared the Appropriations Committee, they head next to the Senate floor for a full vote before they can be conferenced with its counterpart bill in the U.S. House of Representatives. The final, merged legislation must then be passed by both chambers before it is signed into law.