Oregon stands to gain millions from federal spending bills

Setting a budget for 2020? It’s just a bit different on Capitol Hill.

With the passage into law of two massive spending bills late last month, the feds have nailed down more than $1.3 trillion in outlays for the fiscal year that ends in September. And both sides of the aisle have plenty to crow about.

Major appropriations touted by the Republicans include a $22 billion boost to U.S. military spending, a 3.1 percent pay bump for service members, and $1.375 billion for border security, according to National Public Radio.

Democrats are equally excited to pay out $7.6 billion for the 2020 U.S. Census, $425 million for election security grants and $25 million for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health to conduct research into gun violence.

The bills also raise the nationwide age for buying tobacco to 21, a rule that already went into effect in Oregon in 2018.

Oregon Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley say the new spending bills include cash for Oregonians’ top priorities, including homelessness, housing, transit, renewable energy and investments in coastal, rural and Native communities.

“At my annual town halls and community meetings in each of our state’s 36 counties, I hear a consistent message of working to support job creation – which is just what this legislation accomplishes for Oregonians,” Wyden said.

Added Merkley: “One of the most gratifying parts of serving on the Senate Appropriations Committee is that I get to work with communities across the state to fund their needs, and then see the funding in action.”

But where else does Oregon specifically stand to benefit? Here are the most noteworthy line items:

— Scoggins Dam: Situated on Henry Hagg Lake in rural Washington County, the Scoggins Dam has been deemed a risk to life and property in the event of a major earthquake. The feds have approved $2 million for upgrades ahead of reconstruction.

— ShakeAlert: When tremors begin, a new warning system could send a text straight to your phone. ShakeAlert already is being tested in California, but Oregon’s system isn’t ready yet. Now another $19 million has been set aside to fund this U.S. Geological Survey program.

— Scorched gorge: $2 million has been set aside to fund rural business development grants in national scenic areas burned by wildfires, such as the Columbia River Gorge. 

— Bonneville not for sale: It’s now illegal to sell power-marketing agencies like Bonneville Power Administration or transfer their assets to private control.

— Aquatic invaders: $1 million has been dedicated to the monitoring and control of an aquatic invasive plant known as flowering rush in the Columbia River.

— Salmon recovery: Although President Trump suggested putting it on the chopping block, the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund will get $65 million to support declining fish populations here and in California, Washington, Idaho and Alaska.

— Basin restoration: The Environmental Protection Agency will receive $1.2 million to continue implementing the Columbia River Basin Restoration Program, which was created by Merkley to provide grants to business owners, farmers, ranchers and local governments to reduce toxins in this natural area.

— Legal hemp: Commercial hemp is poised to bring $1 billion in economic output to Oregon this year, and lawmakers say the new bills will direct the Drug Enforcement Administration to update their drug schedules, now that hemp no longer is part of the Controlled Substances Act.