On Jan. 17, President Obama signed into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014, a bill that would fund the federal government for Fiscal Year 2014 at an overall level of $1.012 trillion, an increase of $45 billion in comparison to FY 2013 levels, post sequestration. The omnibus includes all 12 of the federal appropriations bills that fund various programs throughout the government. Of the 12 spending bills, four (Interior/Environment, Energy/Water, Transportation, and Agriculture) are relevant to the issues covered by the NRI Committee. To read more from the National Conference of State Legislatures click here.
The omnibus provides $2.4 billion for Rural Development programs, which is $180 million above the FY 2013 enacted level. These programs help spur economic growth by supporting basic infrastructure, providing loans to rural businesses and industries, and helping strengthen housing markets in rural areas. Specifically the bill provides $1.2 billion in direct loans ($200 million above FY 2013 pre-sequestration), $50 million in guaranteed loans ($11 million below FY 2013 pre-sequestion), and $345 million in grants ($35.5 million above FY 2013 pre-sequestration) for the Water and Waste Disposal Program which helps rural communities address the backlog of clean water and waste disposal projects. Click here to read the entire Omnibus Special Report from the National Association of Counties.
Earlier today, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced $203 million in funding to finance investments in improved water and wastewater systems for 74 projects in 40 states. “Rural businesses and residents need access to clean water and modern waste disposal systems. This isn’t just an economic issue, it’s an issue of basic health and safety,” said Vilsack. “Water and wastewater projects like these help safeguard rural access to a modern, working infrastructure, which in turn ensures a decent quality of life and helps attract – and keep – the best and brightest in small towns across America.” Click here to read more from the Rural Community Assistance Partnership.