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Merkley, Walden outline Oregon items in spending bill


Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., released statements Thursday outlining Oregon programs funded by the congressional spending deal that apparently will avert another partial government shutdown, including $25 million for Central Oregon irrigation canal piping projects.

First, here’s Merkleye’s statement:

“This bill keeps the government open through the balance of fiscal year. That’s a great relief for millions of Americans.

“I am very disturbed that the Homeland Security portion of this bill does not address key immigration issues , including Trump’s string of child prisons, his internment camps, and his misuse of ICE detention to criminalize families fleeing persecution. Those are battles I will continue to fight fiercely.

“The other six bills contained in this legislation have many wins for Oregon, including in the Agriculture bill I helped to write. I am proud to support those bills, which include significant victories for our state, such as:

· A $583 million increase in rental assistance funding, and a $123 million increase in Homeless Assistance grants;

· Funding for transportation and infrastructure, including an additional $549 million for clean water and sanitary waste systems in rural communities, and an increase in funding for my WIFIA program which will leverage up to $7.3 billion in low-cost loans for water infrastructure;

· Increased funding for wildfire prevention and $2.5 billion in funding for wildfire suppression, plus a $508 million emergency buffer to prevent fire borrowing if necessary;

· A massive, $550 million investment in rural broadband;

· $500 million for the PILT program, which helps fund vital services in counties with large tracts of BLM land;

· Increased funding for agricultural research;

· $25 million for irrigation modernization in Central Oregon;

· $4 million for local water efforts in the Klamath Basin, including $3.5 million to help restore healthy populations of shortnose and Lost River sucker;

· $3.5 million for mass timber research;

· $1.2 million to combat Sudden Oak Death;

· $1 million for Columbia River Basin Restoration;

· Maintaining funding for the Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program, which creates jobs in the woods and helps make forests more fire-resilient.

Walden’s news release:

Representative Greg Walden, R-Ore., released Thursday released the following statement after the House passed a government funding measure that included key priorities for Oregon:

“I am pleased that leaders in Congress could come together with the President on a compromise package that provides needed border security improvements and ensures that we avert another unnecessary shutdown,” said Walden. “Importantly, the measure passed today includes several provisions that I helped secure to address key priorities for Oregon.

“To improve forest health and reduce the risk of wildfire, this bill boosts funding for hazardous fuels reduction activities. Actively managing the dense fire fuels that have built up in our forests will help prevent the catastrophic wildfires that pollute our skies and choke Oregon’s communities with smoke. With another wildfire season just on the horizon, these resources will be crucial to completing necessary forest management and fire prevention projects across our state.

“We also fully fund the Payment in Lieu of Taxes — or PILT — program, which is welcome news for rural communities across Oregon. These funds ensure communities in our district have law enforcement, infrastructure, and other local services. Because the majority of the land in our district is controlled by the federal government, the PILT program provides vital funds to rural Oregon.

“To address the evolving challenges facing our wheat growers in Oregon, we are putting forward needed resources to boost agriculture research that will benefit the wheat growing community. I’ve been proud to work with wheat growers on the liaison committee for Pendleton agriculture research station on this issue. The funding we secured will help ensure the station can continue their critical mission to support farmers and rural communities in our district.

“For sugar beet growers in eastern Oregon communities like Vale, Ontario, and Nyssa, we make it easier to transport their product to the area’s only sugar processing facility in Idaho. By lifting an onerous transportation regulation on Oregon’s sugar beet growers, they will be able to use the same trucks on the Oregon and Idaho highways to haul their beets.

“This funding measure marks important progress on critical issues for our state and country, and I look forward to President Trump signing this measure into law.”

Forest Management

Dedicates $3.946 billion to wildland fire programs, including $624 million hazardous fuels reduction activities to reduce the threat of catastrophic wildfire.

Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT)

Fully funds the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program at $500 million for counties to offset property tax losses due to nontaxable federal lands within their jurisdiction.

Resilient Dryland Wheat Farming Project

Provides $2 million for the United States Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service (USDA-ARS) resilient dryland farming project.

Transportation Exemption for Eastern Oregon Sugar Beet Growers

Federal weight exemption for sugar beet growers in Vale, Ontario, and Nyssa transporting produce to Idaho on non-interstate highways using trucks weighing up to 120,000 lbs.

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