WASHINGTON, D.C. — Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley, who serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee, today announced key provisions in education and health care in the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education bill that will help Oregon communities.
“This bill provides important support for economic development in rural communities,” Merkley said. “The committee joined me in soundly rejecting the president’s proposed cuts. Instead, we preserved and grew investments in nurses and teachers; in providing opportunity to our most vulnerable students; and in grants that support rural communities’ efforts to alleviate poverty.”
“This bill provides much-needed resources for Oregonians pursuing a quality education and good jobs, and supports rural communities and health care,” Wyden said. “Unlike the Trump administration’s empty promises about the challenges facing our communities, this legislation actually supports proven programs that help people.”
Merkley is the only Oregon member of Congress from either chamber since Senator Mark Hatfield to serve on the Appropriations Committee, 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.
Key elements of the legislation that will impact Oregon include:
Nursing: Merkley secured $249.5 million to support nurses in Oregon and across the country. For the third year in a row, Merkley led 32 senators in a letter to the committee to push for an increase in federal funding for nursing workforce development. Oregon benefitted from nearly $2 million in program funding in 2015.
Women’s Health: Merkley protected over $20 million for the WISEWOMAN program to help low-income women reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke. Heart disease is currently the leading cause of death for women in the United States. Oregon is one of 20 states funded by the program, which was eliminated in President Trump’s proposed budget.
Medical Research: Merkley helped secure a $2 billion increase in funding for the NIH, totaling more than $39 billion in the fight against cancer, Alzheimer’s, and other devastating diseases.
Migrant Students: The bill includes $44.6 million dollars for education programs for migrant students. Through this program, higher education and non-profit organizations can receive funding to give migrant and seasonal farmworkers and their children the opportunity to attend higher education or earn their GED. Oregon State University, Chemeketa Community College, Portland Community College, and Treasure Valley Community College receive funds through this program.
Special Education Research: Merkley also worked to preserve $56 million for research and innovation in special education. The University of Oregon — a leading university on special education research — and other institutions use these funds to ensure public education benefits students with disabilities.
Teachers: Merkley worked to restore billions in funding for teacher training and student academic achievement that the Trump budget eliminated. Merkley also secured $1 billion for TRIO, an educational program that supports students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Career Training: The bill maintains $1.2 billion for Career and Technical Education, which supports our workforce and economy by training young people to fill in-demand, twenty-first century jobs.
Community Services Block Grants: Merkley led the fight to restore the program—which was eliminated in President Trump’s budget proposal—that provides critical support for rural Oregon communities. Merkley successfully preserved $725 million in grant funding to help alleviate the causes and conditions of poverty.
Community Service: The bill rejects Trump’s elimination of national community service programs that place talented Americans in vulnerable communities. Instead, the bill funds AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers at $92 million; Senior Corps programs at $202 million; and State AmeriCorps grants at $415 million.
The bill was voted out of committee on Thursday. The next step is a full Senate vote, and eventually merging with a counterpart bill from the U.S. House of Representatives in order to be passed by both houses and signed into law.