PA Senior Senator advances measures related to savings accounts for people with disabilities, furniture tip-over injury prevention, PA water pollution remediation
Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) announced the Senate passage of the federal spending bill for Fiscal Year 2023. In addition to government funding, the spending bill includes funds going directly to community projects across the Commonwealth. Senator Casey secured more than $111.5 million for 92 projects across Pennsylvania. The funding bill also includes a number of critical pieces of legislation, including the Electoral Count Reform Act, which would safeguard the results of a presidential election, and SECURE 2.0, which would make it easier to save for retirement.
“In this bill, I fought for programs that make it easier to live, work, and raise a family in Pennsylvania. Additionally, more than $111 million is going directly to community projects in every region of Pennsylvania, sending taxpayer dollars straight back to our communities,” said Senator Casey. “We are working toward an America where our children are safer and provided more opportunities in life, where seniors and people with disabilities are taken care of, and where we can have faith in our Democracy and our elections. There is always more to be done, and I will continue fighting for these ideals and working hard to deliver for Pennsylvanians.”
Along with the federal spending bill, the Senate passed multiple bipartisan Casey-led bills, including:
- The ABLE Age Adjustment Act, which would provide 6.2 million additional Americans, including more than one million veterans, the opportunity to open an ABLE account and save for the future by extending access to people who acquired their disability between 26 and 46 years of age.
- The Stop Tip-overs of Unstable, Risky Dressers on Youth (STURDY) Act, legislation to prevent furniture tip-overs resulting in injury or death. The STURDY Act would change the stability standard for manufacturers of clothing storage units from voluntary to mandatory—requiring companies to ensure their products are tested for safety and stability before being sold.
- The Safeguarding Treatment for the Restoration of Ecosystems from Abandoned Mines (STREAM) Act, which would allow states and tribes to set aside a portion of the abandoned mine land funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to treat acid mine drainage, reducing long-term water pollution and investing in the economic health of their communities.
- The Public and Federally Assisted Housing Fire Safety Act, which was introduced in the wake of a tragic house fire that killed 12 people, including 9 children, in the Fairmount section of Philadelphia. This bill would help protect the more than 10 million Americans who live in public or federally assisted housing from the risk of fire and institutes stricter requirements around smoke detectors in public housing.
- The Rural Hospital Support Act, legislation that would ensure rural hospitals can stay fiscally solvent and prevent closures that would disrupt access to care for individuals in rural communities.
- The Improving Part-time Workers Access to Retirement Act, which would expand retirement plan eligibility to part-time workers after 2 years of employment, compared to 3 years under current law. This policy allows part-time workers—who are often women, caregivers, or lower-income workers—to access retirement plans and save for their future.
The federal spending bill included many of Senator Casey’s priorities and programs important to Pennsylvania, including:
Senator Casey secured $111.5 million for 92 projects across Pennsylvania. The projects include community revitalization, workforce development, critical infrastructure and resilience, and health care expansion in the Commonwealth.
Descriptions of the 92 community projects can be found HERE.
Jobs and Economy
- Supporting Small Businesses and Low-Income Communities: The bill includes an increase in funding for the Small Business Administration as well as significant funding for the Small Business Development Centers, which provide counseling and training to small businesses through local centers such as those at Kutztown University and Shippensburg University. The bill also increases funding dedicated to promoting economic and community development in low-income communities.
- Investing in Appalachia and Local Economies: The spending bill increased funding for the Appalachian Regional Commission, which funds economic and community development efforts, including job training and infrastructure projects, throughout the Appalachian region in Pennsylvania. The legislation also included increased funding for economic development assistance programs through the Economic Development Administration.
- Helping Workers Save for Retirement: The spending bill includes a new Saver’s Credit in the SECURE 2.0 package, which will provide a matching contribution to a worker’s retirement account of up to $1,000 for single workers making under $35,500. This will boost savings for workers who do not have the disposable income to save much for retirement. The bill also has a new provision by which workers will be automatically enrolled in their employer’s retirement plan, if one exists. This eliminates a paperwork hassle for workers and ensures more will benefit from automatic contributions.
- Protecting Workers’ Rights: The spending bill contains language encouraging the IRS to pursue businesses that illegally misclassify their workers as contractors and to notify Congress if the IRS reduces the resources devoted to this task. Senator Casey has worked to make sure that all workers are given the protections of labor laws, including through his recent letter to the Department of Labor. Protecting workers is a whole-of-government effort not confined to the DOL.
- Increasing Funding for National Labor Relations Board: After a nearly ten-year blockade by Republicans on a funding increase for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), the funding bill includes a $25 million funding increase for the NLRB. Notably, this will prevent a hiring freeze and furloughs for staff and allow the NLRB to work at full capacity as the Nation sees an increase in union and labor activity. Senator Casey led letters in May and December 2022 with Senator John Hickenlooper (D-CO) urging leadership to include a funding increase.
- Creating Good Jobs: The bill includes funding for job training and apprenticeship programs with $10.5 billion for the Employment and Training Administration, including $285 million for Registered Apprenticeships and $65 million for Strengthening Community College Training Grants.
- Boosting Domestic Manufacturing and Innovation: Programs authorized by the CHIPS and Science Act, passed earlier this year, received $1.8 billion. The FY2023 appropriations bill also increases funding for long-standing federal programs for domestic innovation. Programs that support domestic manufacturing under the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Food and Drug Administration, and the Department of Defense got a boost this year.
- Looking Toward Future Innovation: The appropriations bill makes a down payment on many of the regional economic development and innovation programs authorized in the CHIPS and Science Act, including dedicated funding for the new Recompete Pilot Program which will work to deliver economic development support to particularly distressed communities, as well as significant funding to provide planning grants for the Regional Technology and Innovation Hub program which aims to spread the innovation economy and its benefits to cities beyond the coasts.
Infrastructure, Housing, and Community Development
- Building on the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act: The bill includes an increase in funding for the Federal Highway Administration to execute the programs laid out in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act as well as over a billion dollars to reduce the backlog of structurally deficient bridges. The bill also includes increases in funding for Amtrak and passenger rail.
- Boosting Community Development: The bill includes increased funding for the Community Development Block Grant formula program, which provides annual grants to states, cities, and counties to support community development, develop affordable housing, and expand opportunity for low- and moderate-income families. The bill also includes new funding for the “Yes In My Back Yard” grant program to incentivize affordable housing production.
- Addressing Homelessness: The bill includes increased funding for programs that provide services to people experiencing homelessness, an increase in funding for the Rural Housing Service, and continued investment in the HOME Investment Partnerships Program which provides funds to build, buy, or rehabilitate affordable housing for rent or homeownership as well as provide direct rental assistance. The bill also includes significant dedicated funding for housing programs focused on providing housing for older Americans and people with disabilities.
- Expanding High-Speed Internet: The ReConnect broadband program will receive total funding of nearly $350 million to deploy high-speed internet to rural areas. This funding follows the $450 million in ReConnect funding in the Fiscal Year 2022 appropriations bill, and the nearly $2 billion in ReConnect funding in the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
- Helping Families Save on Energy Bills: The bill provides $4 billion for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), helping low-income families and seniors with their home energy costs.
- Investing in Early Childhood Education and Child Care: Senator Casey successfully led advocacy for increased funding for several early childhood education programs, including Head Start, Preschool Development Grants, and early childhood services provided through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The Child Care and Development Block Grant received a 30% increase in funding, which will help the families of more than 130,000 children find and afford child care.
- Supporting Students with Disabilities: The spending bill includes billions for Special Education State Grant programs that support services to an estimated nine million students and children with a disability, including those participating in early intervention and preschool programs.
- Broadening Access to College and Higher Education: The bill makes attending college a possibility for more students by making higher education more affordable through increased funding for Pell Grants. The bill increases the maximum Pell Grant award for the upcoming school year. Each year, Pell Grants help approximately 7 million students pursue a postsecondary education and further their careers.
- Improving Childhood Nutrition: The spending bill creates a permanent nationwide Summer Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) program to provide families with $40 per child, per month to buy groceries during the summer months, starting in summer 2024. The bill also establishes a nationwide non-congregate meals program to provide meals to children in rural areas without congregate feeding sites. The omnibus additionally provides $3 million to expand school breakfast programs, increases funding for SNAP by $13.4 billion, and authorizes USDA to replace benefits that have been skimmed. It also includes $6 billion for Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC), including funding to help new mothers in a breastfeeding peer counselor program.
Seniors and People with Disabilities
- Bolstering Aging Services: The bill increases funding for Social Security programs to provide critical anti-poverty protections for millions of older adults. It continues to fund nutrition services such as Meals on Wheels and group lunch programs for seniors to have access to healthy food. The bill also includes funding to increase the pool of workers who provide critical home and nursing care.
- Upholding Disability Savings and Protections: The bill makes home care support available to millions of older couples without risking loss of all of their assets through Senator Casey’s Spousal Impoverishment Protection Act. It also provides funds to help people with disabilities find and live in their own homes rather than in congregate settings, providing a meaningful choice for those choosing to receive home care in their community.
Pennsylvania’s Natural Resources and Environment
- Reclaiming Abandoned Mine Land: The spending bill includes $135 million in funding for the Abandoned Mine Land Economic Revitalization (AMLER) Program, which reclaims abandoned mine land and spurs economic development in rural communities.
Safety and Security
- Preventing Gun Violence: The bill provides $50 million for the Department of Justice's Community Violence Intervention and Prevention Initiative. This funding follows $300 million for community violence intervention and prevention programs in the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act and the FY22 appropriations bill.
- Addressing Infant Formula Shortages: The appropriations bill includes multiple provisions from Senator Casey’s Protecting Infants from Formula Shortages Act of 2022. The language provides the FDA with authority to address potential or actual infant formula shortages and establishes new requirements for infant formula manufacturers when a recall affects more than 10 percent of the domestic formula supply or when interruptions in the production of a formula occur.
- Building a Sustainable Health Care Workforce: The spending bill includes a Casey-led bill, the Building a Sustainable Workforce for Healthy Communities Act, to reauthorize a competitive grant program for state and local governments, tribal organizations, and community-based organizations to develop and expand community health worker programs. The provision authorizes a total of $250 million for this critical workforce.
- Strengthening Mental Health Care for Kids: The legislation reauthorizes several mental health workforce programs, for which Senator Casey championed a greater focus on pediatric populations. It also includes many provisions which Senator Casey has broadly advocated for, such as mental health and substance use disorder services for students in schools and higher education.
- Bolstering the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP): The spending bill includes a provision extending funding for CHIP through FY2029 and a provision ensuring 12 months of continuous eligibility for children for health care continuity. Senator Casey signed onto a letter to leadership in support of expanding access to Medicaid and CHIP and including these policies in this end-of-year package.
- Investing in Medical Research: The spending bill provides $47.5 billion for the National Institute of Health (NIH), the Nation’s premier institution for medical research that funds researchers across the Nation. NIH funding supports jobs in Pennsylvania’s biomedical research and life sciences industries and furthers lifesaving medical research. Senator Casey leads the annual appropriations letter calling for robust funding for NIH.
- Extending Postpartum Health Care: The spending bill makes permanent the 12-month postpartum coverage option for states first enacted in the American Rescue Plan, which was initially only authorized for five years. This provision ensures continued health care coverage for pregnant people and mothers on Medicaid who have just given birth for 12 months postpartum.
- Reforming Outdated Elections Legislation: This legislation would reform and modernize the Electoral Count Act of 1887 to ensure that electoral votes counted by Congress accurately reflect each state’s vote for President. It would also clarify the vice president’s role in certifying a presidential election is solely ministerial—and does not allow him to solely determine disputes over electors—when Congress convenes in a joint session to certify the results of a presidential election. It safeguards our elections by resolving any ambiguity about whether the vice president has the power to overturn the vote of the Electoral College, something that former President Trump claimed was possible after losing the 2020 presidential election.
National Security and Veterans
- Increasing Medical Care Funding for Veterans: The bill includes $118.7 billion, a 22.4 percent increase compared with FY22, to provide essential health services for our veterans, including deferred care due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, the bill includes $5 billion in additional funding to implement the Honoring Our PACT Act, specifically enabling the VA to respond to the increased need for health care services to veterans with conditions relating to toxic exposure which occurred during their service.
- Providing Support to Ukraine: This provision provides an additional $45 billion in emergency assistance to respond to the war in Ukraine, an increase from President Biden’s original $38 billion request.
- Implementing Outbound Investment Initiatives: The bill includes language encouraging the Department of Commerce and the Department of the Treasury to establish an outbound investment screening program to address the threats in certain sectors critical to U.S. national security and our economic and technological competition with China. Approximately $20 million in funding has been included to stand up an outbound investment screening mechanism to be established by an Executive Order. Senator Casey is the author of the National Critical Capabilities Defense Act, legislation to establish a similar outbound investment screening mechanism.
- Increasing Global Food Security Funding: Global food security accounts received a $26 million increase relative to last fiscal year across the Food for Peace, McGovern Dole Food for Education, and Global Agriculture and Food Security Programs. Additionally, the Ukraine Supplemental provision included an emergency appropriation of $55 million for the Food for Peace and McGovern Dole Food for Education Programs and $300 million for International Disaster Assistance, including food aid, to Ukraine and other countries affected by Russia’s war.
For funding levels on specific programs, please email Natalie_Adams@casey.senate.gov.