Merkley Announces Key Funding for Nurses, Educators in Appropriations Committee Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley today announced key provisions in education and health care in the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education bill that will fund programs that support frontline health care workers and educators, who have suffered through the strain of a global pandemic for nearly two years. The bill is the basis for negotiations with the House, as Congress works to fund the government for fiscal year 2022.

“As both a dad of two kids and the husband of a nurse who worked on the front lines throughout the pandemic, I felt deeply for everyone in our communities who suffered the extra strain of navigating teaching, parenting, and working in health care professions over the past 18 months,” Merkley said. “This bill not only contains critical investments in federal programs that support nursing, health care, research, and education, it also contains funding for scores of projects identified by our Oregon communities as important for our friends and neighbors to thrive on the other side of the pandemic. This bill delivers in a big way for Oregon and the nation, and it’s critical that the appropriations process move ahead without delay to make sure these critical investments become reality.”

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.

The Labor, Health and Human Services and Education bill includes research and workforce development funding that will help health care professionals, as well as funding to help students from underserved populations:

  • Nursing: The bill includes $280.9 million to support nurses in Oregon and across the country. Merkley led 36 senators in a letter to the committee leaders to push for an increase in federal funding for nursing workforce development. Oregon benefitted from nearly $2 million in program funding in prior years.
  • Women’s Health: The bill includes $237 million to combat this country’s maternal mortality crisis. The bill would also improve access to care by repealing the Hyde Amendment, the abortion coverage restriction, for those who depend on Medicaid and other government-sponsored plans.
  • Medical Research: The bill includes a $5 billion increase in funding for the National Institutes of Health, totaling more than $47.9 billion in the fight against cancer, Alzheimer’s, and other devastating diseases.
  • Institute of Education Sciences: The bill includes $814.5 million to support innovation, evidence, and evaluation in education. Merkley led 17 senators in a letter to the committee advocating for this investment.
  • Migrant Students: The bill includes $66.1 million 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.
  • Accessible Education: The bill includes a $2.6 billion increase for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part B State Grants to assist states in providing a free, appropriate education for children with disabilities and provide support services for over 7.6 million students.
  • Students: The bill includes $1.3 billion for TRIO, a set of eight educational programs that supports students from first-generation college students and individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds; as the first person in his family to go to college, Merkley knows firsthand the value of this type of support, and has been a fierce advocate for the funding.
  • Career Training: The bill includes $2.1 billion, a $100 million increase, for Career and Technical Education, which supports the workforce and economy by training young people to fill in-demand, twenty-first century jobs.
  • Community Services Block Grants: The bill includes $800 million, a $24.7 million increase, for the program which provides critical support for rural Oregon communities. Merkley led 30 senators in a letter to the committee pushing to preserve and increase funding for the program.
  • Community Service: The bill funds AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers at $103.8 million; Senior Corps programs at $244.5 million; and State AmeriCorps grants at $480 million.

The next step for the bill 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.

In addition to the funding allotments above, Merkley, along with Senator Ron Wyden, secured in the bill federal funding for specific community projects throughout Oregon, including:

  • $500,000 for Oregon Association of Relief Nurseries, for the prevention of child abuse.
  • $840,000 for Southern Oregon Success, for services to prevent abuse and neglect, homelessness, and addiction.
  • $1.276 million for Oregon Social Learning Center Developments Inc., to promote child welfare.          
  • $79,000 for the Council on Aging of Central Oregon, for equipment.
  • $232,000 for Easterseals Oregon, to support an outreach program.
  • $400,000 for Urban League of Portland, for workforce development and training.         
  • $500,000 for Oregon Tradeswomen, for expansion of registered apprenticeships.        
  • $500,000 for Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center, for career training and placement services.
  • $544,000 for Baker Technical Institute, for heavy equipment and trucking and logistics training programs, including the purchase of equipment. 
  • $165,000 for Northwest Mothers Milk Bank, for equipment.
  • $175,000 for SPOON Foundation, for workforce development.
  • $189,000 for Trillium Family Services, for equipment.
  • $199,000 for the City of Elgin, for equipment.
  • $250,000 for Mano a Mano Family Center, for workforce development.
  • $500,000 for OCHIN, Inc., for equipment.
  • $503,000 for Oregon Coast Community College, for equipment.
  • $660,000 for La Pine Rural Fire Protection District, for equipment.
  • $850,000 for Bandon Community Health Center, for facilities and equipment.
  • $943,000 for Oregon Health & Science University, for equipment.
  • $1 million for Oregon Institute of Technology (Oregon Tech), to improve health care services.
  • $1 million for Parrott Creek Child & Family Services, for facilities and equipment.    
  • $1.3 million for Deschutes Rim Clinic Foundation, for facilities and equipment.
  • $1.5 million for Lane County, for facilities and equipment.
  • $2 million for Community Action Program of East Central Oregon, for facilities and equipment.
  • $2.124 million for Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center, for facilities and equipment.    
  • $449,000 for Oregon State University, for professional learning opportunities in timber design.
  • $600,000 for Portland State University, for education and training programs in cybersecurity.
  • $50,000 for Winston Area Community Partnership, for the Winston Community Teen Center, including equipment.
  • $56,000 for Willamalane Park and Recreation District, for mobile technology lab, including equipment.     
  • $93,000 for Circle of Friends, for youth development and mentoring, including equipment.
  • $250,000 for Latino Network, for early childhood education.
  • $500,000 for College Possible, for college access programming, including technology and student support.
  • $645,000 for Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center (OMIC), for career and technical education, including equipment.
  • $900,000 for High Desert Education Service District, for expansion of a childhood trauma program.
  • $100,000 for Mental Health for Children, dba The Child Center, for the expansion of access to school-based mental health services.
  • $375,000 for Multnomah County, for behavioral health care services.
  • $433,000 for Lines for Life, for mental health care and crisis intervention services.
  • $459,000 for Oregon Center for Nursing, to support the mental health and emotional well-being of nurses.
  • $501,000 for Rogue Retreat, for services for individuals with mental health or substance use disorders.
  • $535,000 for Friends of the Children, for mental health care services to youth and families.
  • $750,000 for Youth Rising Oregon, for substance abuse treatment for youth parents.

“The trauma nurses have experienced through this pandemic has been well-documented, and impact it has had on the nursing workforce will be felt for many years to come,” said Jana Bitton, Executive Director of the Oregon Center for Nursing. “OCN’s RN Well-Being Project will work at a community level to support nurses’ mental and emotional health as we move toward the next normal. Many thanks to Sen. Merkley, who has been a constant champion for nursing and nursing workforce in Oregon, for making this important work possible.”

“Building with mass timber offers the opportunity to lower our carbon emissions, reduce wildfire risk and create resilient, well-paying rural jobs,” said Iain Macdonald, Director of the Tall Wood Design Institute at Oregon State University. “However, to fully realize these benefits, construction managers and structural engineers also need access to specialized education and training. We are sincerely grateful to Senator Jeff Merkley for championing a FY2022 congressionally directed spending investment to help OSU develop a first-of-its-kind, nationally-accessible professional development program on building with mass timber.”

“As our communities work to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, we have the opportunity to not only help our current clients find their footing, but also increase our programming to help around 500 families move from desperation to stability,” said Joe McFerrin II, President & CEO of Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center. “With this $500,000 in federal funding, we will be able to serve hundreds more through our culturally specific job training programs, ultimately placing them in living-wage careers in industries like construction, culinary arts, tech, and more. We thank Senator Merkley for working to secure this important funding for our community.”

“We can’t say enough how excited and thankful we are that Senator Merkley successfully included the renovation and expansion of our youth residential care facilities in this spending bill,” said Simon Fulford, Executive Director of Parrott Creek Child & Family Services. “This project is part of our vision to become a regional center of excellence providing services to vulnerable children and families. Not only will it allow us to expand our services, we will be able to build new buildings using trauma-informed and environmentally sustainable design principles. Our communities will be feeling the long term impacts of the coronavirus pandemic for many years to come and this project will allow us to meet the behavioral health and related needs of highly traumatized children and youth for many, many years. The project is estimated to create 25 construction jobs in the short term and over 20 social care jobs upon completion. We thank Senator Merkley for his leadership, and urge Congress to include this funding in the final bill.”

“With this CDS funding we are able to replace our 13-year-old ambulance,” said Elgin Mayor Risa Hallgarth. “What a blessing to know our community emergencies will be responded to with complete confidence in our new vehicle. A BIG thank you to all for making this happen.”

“This community and its fire and paramedic services have been severely impacted by a multitude of challenges these past two years, which they have met unwaveringly—but only to be exasperated by serving the largest population in Oregon with the furthest distance to emergency medical care,” said Mike Supkis, Fire Chief of the La Pine Rural Fire Protection District. “We are humbled that the U.S. Senate and our Oregon Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden have stepped in to assist with this funding for severely needed ambulances and medical equipment. It will be truly a lifesaving hand up, which this fire chief is extremely grateful for.”

“Oregon Tradeswomen is grateful for the stellar leadership from Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley to ensure that all Oregonians, including the most vulnerable in our community, have access to job training and supports to be able to have a lifelong career that will support themselves and their families,” said Kelly Kupcak, Executive Director of Oregon Tradeswomen. “Investing in community-based programs such as Oregon Tradeswomen’s help put women to work, and we know that when women have economic security, it not only means that for her family, but for our broader communities because we know that strong women build strong communities. This historic investment will allow Oregon Tradeswomen to expand our training across Oregon and help put even more women to work in high-wage, high-skilled trades careers! Thank you to Senator Merkley for investing in our workforce and in our future.”

“I could not be more humbled and grateful to Senator Merkley and his staff for selecting Rogue Retreat to receive funding that will further our program participants, specifically those struggling with mental health and substance abuse disorders,” said Chad McComas, Executive Director of Rogue Retreat. “We are delighted to work with so many worthy organizations that help us restore lives of homeless individuals, couples and families as well as strengthen the communities where we all live and work. Thank you to Senator Merkley for working hard on behalf of our participants, and all Oregonians so that the state we love to call ‘home’ continues to flourish and thrive.”

“The Deschutes Rim Clinic Foundation is extremely pleased that funding for the new Deschutes Rim Health Clinic was included in the markup bill through the efforts of Senator Merkley,” said Suzanne Knapp, Chair of the Board of Directors, White River Health District. “This funding will provide for a new, modernized and expanded health care center that will greatly improve health care access and delivery, facilitate integrated health care, and promote provider partnerships in rural South Wasco County. It will also eliminate our loan debt service and allow for expanded mission services. We are forever grateful that Senator Merkley saw our vision and supported it through this bill. We thank Senator Merkley for his leadership and urge Congress to include this funding in the final bill.”

“We’re grateful to Sen. Merkley and members of the Senate Appropriation Committee for making this impactful investment in the kids of Oregon,” said Chris Otis, SMART Reading Executive Director. “This vital funding will help SMART Reading implement our virtual programming we developed in response to the pandemic. Our Virtual SMART delivery model has promising potential to extend our reach, engage students and volunteers in new ways, and eliminate geographical boundaries that we previously faced. Ultimately, this investment means more kids across our state will be prepared for reading and learning success.”

“Virginia Garcia’s first priority has always been to ensure access to high quality care for those who need it most. The expansion of the Newberg Clinic in Yamhill County will do just that,” said Virginia Garcia CEO, Gil Muñoz. “By growing the Newberg location we will be able to double the number of individuals we serve in that area. This expansion will also act as an economic stimulus for the area, allowing us to employ 13-15 more staff members providing medical, dental and pharmacy services. We are so grateful for the support of Senator Merkley on this project.”

“I am pleased that Congress is moving forward with funding to support the expansion of the League’s jobs program,” said Urban League President Nkenge Harmon Johnson. “The $400,000 will help provide opportunities for more Oregonians to get back to work. As our team continues to help community members recover from job- and income loss caused by the pandemic economy, we will help them explore in-demand jobs, map their career pathways, and receive career coaching designed to meet their specific needs. The League will stay with them from workforce training through the first year on the job—to help Oregonians find work and keep it.”

“We are fortunate to have the support of Senator Merkley and Senator Wyden who value ALL youth in our state, especially those in rural communities,” said Nicole Swisher Woodson, Executive Director of Circle of Friends. “At Circle of Friends, we are honored to be granted this Project 92 funding and are excited to bring more opportunities to youth in need in our Sisters Country community.”

“Health center providers deserve essential technology to help their patients thrive by optimizing value and enhancing care delivery to meet the often more complex medical or social needs of those who seek their care,” said Jennifer Stoll, Executive Vice President of Government Relations and Public Affairs at OCHIN. “We deeply appreciate U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden for supporting the OCHIN network, helping to sustain and transform community-based care into the future.”

“Senators Merkley and Wyden understand the tremendous need for at-risk Tribal youth in crisis and struggling from substance abuse addiction,” said Tasha Locks, Founding CEO-President, Youth Rising Oregon. “They also know innovative solutions can help to deter and eliminate such behaviors resulting in productive healthy futures. Youth Rising is prepared to lead this pilot and demonstration project serving Oregon’s tribal youth in need and this vital investment by our Senators provides the hope, investment, and opportunities to our youth today for a better future tomorrow.”

“We know the root causes of so many things our children and families struggle with and we know that the only way we can effectively address them is through collaboration with all levels of education, health care, mental health care, human services, public safety and workforce development,” said Peter Buckley, program manager with Southern Oregon Success. “This funding means effective support for thousands of families throughout Southern Oregon.”

“These funds will allow us to develop virtual CTE training, which will enable us to support CTE programs in rural and low income school districts and in school districts that serve populations that do not traditionally enter into manufacturing careers,” said Craig Campbell, executive director, Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center. “For the workforce development efforts of the OMIC Initiative and its partners this is a game changer. I cannot show enough gratitude to Senator Merkley, Senator Wyden and Congresswoman Bonamici and their amazing staffs. They are truly serving Oregon!”

“We are honored to receive such a wonderful award in support of our continued expansion of services in Curry County,” said Linda Maxon, Chief Executive Officer, Coast Community Health Center. “These funds will directly support our delivery of health and wellness services to south Curry County. Our investment not only expands health care but brings economic investment and jobs to the region. We are grateful for our State and Federal Legislators continued trust in our ability to deliver on our commitment to the communities we serve.

“I’ve had the privilege to work with Coast Community Health since its conception and have long been an advocate to expand access to healthcare services that are desperately needed on the South Coast,” said State Rep. David Brock Smith (R-01). “I’m grateful to Senators Merkley and Wyden for their incredible advocacy for this funding to expand vital healthcare services to our residents through a dedicated partner with Coast Community Health.”

“Connecting rural and urban cybersecurity is a national priority,” said Portland State University Provost Susan Jeffords. “PSU’s excellence in education and research—as recognized by our partners at the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security—is uniquely qualified to make that connection. This investment allows PSU to expand workforce training, improve student success and strengthen security for the critical infrastructure in our state.”

“Thank you Senators Merkley and Wyden for sponsoring our need for new vehicles to improve the scope, response and delivery of respite care, Meals on Wheels, home safety inspections and case management for at risk older adults,” said Susan Rotella, executive director of the Council on Aging of Central Oregon. “The two new vehicles will allow our client services team to reach a large, rural population throughout the tri-county and provide critical client assessments to ensure that all seniors, and people with disabilities, are safe and can remain in their homes as long as possible.”

“The dangers of respiratory problems during times of wildfires are real and very prevalent in rural areas such as Klamath County,” said Oregon Tech president, Dr. Nagi Naganathan. “This funding will allow Oregon Tech faculty and students to conduct critical research on the resources needed to support respiratory care hospitalization during wildfires, improving response times and increasing collaboration with local, state, and federal agencies. Our sincere thanks go to Senators Merkley and Wyden for their advocacy for this important research about the impact of wildfires on Oregon’s healthcare systems.”

“This investment in our school-based mental and behavioral health services will fundamentally and profoundly shift our educational systems across Crook, Deschutes and Jefferson counties, including Warm Springs,” said Jim Boen, regional director of mental and behavioral health for the High Desert Education Service District. “It will dramatically strengthen our ability as educators to create school environments that nurture resilience by caring for all students and staff impacted by trauma. It will allow us to grow trauma-informed cultures of care for 45,000 children and youth ages 3-18 in our region and the dedicated educators and staff who serve them.”

“With the expansion of our heavy equipment and truck driving mobile programs, we will be able to reach more Oregonians that have not had the opportunity for this type of training, allowing them to pursue careers in fields that are in high demand,” said Doug Dalton, President of the Baker Technical Institute. “In turn, businesses will have access to a trained workforce that will build healthy communities and drive sustained economic growth in areas that desperately need it.”

“Easterseals Oregon is honored to receive this funding to support our Senior Community Service Employment Program,” said Carol Salter, President & CEO of Easterseals Oregon. “This funding will allow us to expand our reach to more poverty-level seniors in every county in Oregon who face some of the greatest barriers to employment equity—barriers that have been magnified during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has proven to be disproportionately isolating and damaging to individuals over the age of 55.”

“We are appreciative of the support of our work at Northwest Mothers Milk Bank,” said Lesley Mondeaux, Executive Director, Northwest Mothers Milk Bank. “Receiving direct congressional spending is an investment in the health of Oregon’s most vulnerable infants. Every baby deserves the best start in life.”

“Oregon Association of Relief Nurseries show up every day for our most vulnerable children and families,” Cara Copeland, Executive Director at Oregon Association of Relief Nurseries. “We are deeply grateful to Senator Merkley and his team for their tireless effort to champion our children through the process. While we are currently serving 2,300 children across the state, we know that there are more than 6,500 than need our help. We know this investment will help us to elevate child abuse prevention across Oregon and expand our capacity to strengthen families.”

“Latino Network’s Early Childhood Education programs have served families in the Multnomah County area for over 15 years,” said Tony DeFalco, Executive Director of Latino Network. “If passed, this will serve as an important investment in the continuing success of historically underrepresented youth and children in Oregon. We applaud Senators Merkley and Wyden for their continuous support and belief in our mission, to positively transform the lives of Latino youth, families, and communities in Oregon.”

“The Connected Coast Virtual ICU project will extend OHSU’s critical care expertise to patients across Oregon,” said Joe Ness, M.H.A., BSPharm, senior vice president and chief operating officer for OHSU Health. “This federal investment will strengthen the capacity of community hospitals to care for critically ill patients, while allowing those patients to stay in their communities.”

“I was born in Curry General Hospital 67 years ago,” said Curry County Oregon Commissioner Court Boice. “During my life here, including five years as Curry Commissioner, I’ve witnessed many positive progressions within our local health care systems. This, of course, includes a tremendous source of pride—our new Curry General Hospital. Then, just a couple of years ago, the hard work and successes in finding the critical funds needed to open the South County Emergency Room Facility. And now everything looks very promising: a $ 850,000 Federal Appropriation for our Brookings Coast Community Health Facility. Senator Merkley and his staff quickly recognized this very legitimate need and acted. A huge thanks! I couldn’t be happier for the CCH team, our veterans, our seniors and all of our Curry citizens.”