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Senator Jones Announces Funding for Alabama Priorities in Appropriations Package Passed by Congress

WASHINGTON – U.S.
Senator Doug Jones (D-Ala.) today announced that dozens of his requests to fund
priorities for Alabama were included in a year-end appropriations package that
passed the Senate today. The two funding bills now head to the President’s desk
for his signature.

“From
increased resources for our HBCUs to additional funding to prevent the spread
of Chronic Wasting Disease in our deer population, there are dozens of Alabama
priorities included in this bill,” said Senator Doug Jones. “The deal
will also fund my Civil Rights Cold Case Records Collection Commission, end the
Kiddie Tax on military families, and provide funding for heirs’ property owners
to resolve burdensome legal issues. I want to thank Senators Richard Shelby and
Patrick Leahy, who lead our Appropriations Committee, for their bipartisan work
to get this done.”

Key
provisions championed by Senator Jones include:

·        
Ending the “Kiddie Tax”: As a result
of the
Military
Widow’s Tax
,
Gold Star spouses often put benefits in their children’s names in order to
collect full survivor benefits. The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act significantly raised
taxes due on these benefits up to a tax rate of 37 percent, resulting in
surprise tax increases of over $1,000 for many families. The inclusion of
Senator
Jones’ bill

to get rid of the Kiddie Tax will restore the previous lower tax rate on these
benefits.

·        
Civil Rights Cold Case bill implementation: $2M has
been allocated for National Archives and Records Administration to implement
Senator Jones’ Civil Rights Cold Case Collection Act, which was
signed into
law

by the President early this year.

·        
Funding gun violence prevention research: For the
first time in two decades, Congress will allocate $25M for research into the
causes of gun violence in America. Senator Jones has supported this effort as a
common-sense, bipartisan step to better understand and prevent acts of gun
violence.

·        
Improving maternal and child health: $17M
increase for programs to improve maternal and child health through the Health
Resources and Services Administration, including an additional $5 million to
reduce maternal mortality. Senator Jones has introduced numerous
pieces of
legislation

to support families and increase access to health care for women and children.

·        
Increasing funding to enforce federal child
protection laws:
$90M
for State Grants and $55.66 million for the Community-Based Child Abuse
Prevention grants to enforce the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment
Act, which Senator Jones has introduced legislation to reauthorize in 2020.

·        
Raising the purchasing age for tobacco to 21: The deal
prohibits sale of tobacco products to anyone under the age of 21 across the
country. Senator Jones joined similar legislation earlier this year.

·        
Clotilda excavation assistance: $500,000
for the Smithsonian Institution to support excavation, education, and community
engagement around discovery of the Clotilda, the last known slave ship
to arrive in the United States. The bill also expands eligibility for Civil
Rights grants under the Historic Preservation Fund to include recently
discovered sites of the transatlantic slave trade, including the Clotilda.
Senator Jones also recently
memorialized
the discovery

of the Clotilda, which was found near Mobile, Alabama, in a Senate resolution.

·        
Funding programs to resolve heirs’ property
disputes:
$5M
secured by
Senator Jones

for a new heirs’ property relending fund program.

·        
Preventing the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease: Preventing
the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease
: $1.72M for the U.S. Geological
Survey and $5M to the Animal Plant Health Inspection Service to combat chronic
wasting disease. As an avid hunter and outdoorsman, Senator Jones has
introduced several
pieces of legislation
to fight the spread of CWD. Also included in the bill
was another of Senator Jones’ priorities, the Modernizing the
Pittman-Robertson Fund for Tomorrow’s Needs Act
, which will help state
wildlife agencies to conduct important CWD outreach activities.

·        
Increasing HBCU funding:

o  
In
addition to securing
permanent
mandatory funding

for HBCUs, Senator Jones has advocated for this bill to also provide $325M—a 15
percent increase—for HBCU discretionary funding next year. Last year, he also
secured a 14-percent
discretionary funding increase in the omnibus funding bill.

o  
$119M
for Historic Preservation Fund; including $10M for Historically Black Colleges
and Universities (HBCUs) grants, and $15M for civil rights grants.

o  
$50M,
including $10M for Public HBCUs, for HBCU Capital Financing.

·        
Increasing the maximum Pell Grant award: Students are
now eligible for a $150 increase in the maximum Pell Grant award, bringing the
maximum award to $6,345 per student.

·        
Funding wastewater grant programs: $5M for the
Household Water Well System Grant Program, which Senator Jones
expanded in last
year’s Farm Bill to include up to $15,000 for households in rural areas to
install and maintain individually owned decentralized wastewater systems.

·        
Enforcing EPA civil rights protections: $9.554M for
enforcement of environmental justice programs under EPA. Earlier this year,
Senator Jones called
on EPA
to better enforce civil rights protections in the environmental
justice context.

·        
Saving miners pensions: The bill
shores up the miners pension plan, which is headed for insolvency due to coal
company bankruptcies and the 2008 financial crisis, and ensures that the miners
who are at risk due to coal company bankruptcies will not lose their healthcare. There
are nearly 6,000 United Mine Workers of America pensioners in Alabama.

·        
Protecting public transportation funds: The bill
includes Senator Jones’ amendment to protect $1.2B in public transportation
funds, including more than $7M that was set to be cut for Alabama transit
agencies without this amendment.

·        
Protecting Alabama auto manufacturers from
unnecessary tariffs
:
The bill requires the release of automobile and auto part Section 232
investigation within 30 days, which
Senator Jones
has called on

the Administration to make public.

·        
Addressing the shortage of pilots and lack of
diversity in military service:
$3M for the Air Force and Army 
Junior ROTC to create pilot scholarship programs to increase diversity in
military pilot ranks. Senator Jones
introduced a
bill

earlier this year to authorize the secretaries of each military department to
create these programs.  

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