As I write you with this mid-August report, the public health and economic crisis of COVID-19 continues to dominate the work of my office as it must. But the year-to-year non-COVID work of Congress must also go on, especially my House Appropriations Committee’s responsibility to fund our federal government for the upcoming fiscal year starting October 1st. In this report I update you on critical additional federal assistance to Hawai’i to address critical continuing COVID-19 needs, as well as the status of my Appropriations work. As always, we stand ready to assist you and your communities and constituents with your own questions and needs.
COVID-19 FEDERAL EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE UPDATE
Congress’ initial CARES Act $3 trillion in emergency assistance for COVID-19 needs was critical to helping so many in dire need these last few months. In Hawai’i alone we have received some $9 billion in federal grants and loans to date. But with the deeply disappointing resurgence of COVID-19 across our country and state and its continuing consequences to our health care system, economy, social safety net and communities, clearly still more federal emergency assistance is needed to help see us all through.
In my U.S. House we passed a further $3 trillion in emergency assistance bill, the HEROES Act, in mid-May. Our measure would further assist those hardest hit by the pandemic, including our unemployed, keiki and kupuna, small businesses, and front-line health care providers. Unfortunately the U.S. Senate majority and Administration did not view additional assistance as urgent and deferred consideration of HEROES until just recently when the needs became inescapable. The next package is now under intense negotiation and I am hopeful agreement will be reached and additional assistance will be distributed soon.
This crisis my Capitol Hill and Honolulu Offices have remained open (mostly remotely) with my staff and I on the job and working overtime to assist our state, our communities, and you through this terrible crisis. Information on COVID-19, ranging from the latest from our national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and our Hawaii Department of Health, along with federal assistance, and my own efforts, as well as how to contact me, is on my official web page at https://case.house.gov/coronavirus/. As to the developments regarding the virus itself, my web page features the latest updates by the CDC so that you can keep up with the latest on COVID-19 both in our country and around the world.
CONTINUING APPROPRIATIONS FOR HAWAII
Amidst my focus on COVID-19, I have also continued the vital work of preserving, protecting and enhancing the many federal programs, services and funding we depend on from year to year from the federal government. To that end, I have been working hard with my Appropriations Committee colleagues to approve what amounts to a $1.4 trillion funding measure for Fiscal Year 2021.
Our Appropriations Committee works through twelve subcommittees covering different parts of the federal government, each of which subcommittee produces its own bill. In July, our subcommittees and full Committee developed and approved all bills and the full House then approved almost all of them. There are many good results for our country and Hawai’i included in these bills, which now go to the Senate. Here are some highlights:
Military Construction & Veterans Affairs
I am a member of this subcommittee, which especially assists me in delivering federal funds to support the two other key pillars of our island economy after tourism, defense and construction, in addition to our over 100,000 veterans and their families.
Our appropriations bill includes my requests for more than $300 million for five major construction projects including two new child development centers ($97 million), an aircraft maintenance center ($89 million), and two wharf improvement projects at Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam ($115 million). For Hawai’i veterans, I was able to win approval to direct completion of the new Leeward outpatient facility and adequate parking at Tripler Hospital.
State and Foreign Operations
I was able to continue funding for the East-West Center ($19.7 million) which is key to bolstering our commitment to democracy at a time when our allies, partners and friends all over the world look even more to the United States to engage, stabilize and lead.
As founding co-chair of the first-ever Congressional Pacific Islands Caucus, I also secured several provisions related to the Pacific Islands:
- Recommended funding under Titles III and IV to strengthen maritime security and combat transnational crime, improve health care, mitigate and adapt to environmental challenges, reduce disaster risk, promote economic development and strengthen democratic governance.
- Report language urging the new U.S. Development Finance Corporation (DFC) to prioritize investments in the Pacific Islands, including to support women’s economic empowerment, and requiring a report on a strategy to increase DFC investments in the region.
- Report language requiring an assessment of U.S. diplomatic and development presence in the Pacific Islands and a strategy to fill any such gaps.
- Report language supporting coverage of Voice of America in the Pacific Islands on digital and conventional media and directing the U.S. Agency for Global Media to include plans for expanding such coverage for FY 2021.
In my remarks to my fellow Appropriations Committee members, I shared that defense capacity alone, while critical, won’t itself maintain our leadership throughout the Indo-Pacific, and in fact to rely on that solely would be the same mistake others have made and are making. Hawai’i remains widely recognized as the unofficial capital of the Pacific, and so as we support our institutions here we not only solidify our position but help our economy with federal support and good jobs.
Agriculture and Rural Development
Agriculture remains a major driver of our local economy, and it is even more important that we support it right through COVID-19’s devastating effect especially on tourism as a critical economic and employment foundation.
Rural development is also critical, and most important here is ensuring broadband connectivity which, as we’ve also seen in COVID-19, is essential to effective tele-health, remote learning and working from home. The importance of maintaining and funding a full school lunch program, especially for so many families in need, has also been reinforced.
Key provisions I secured in this bill of special interest to Hawai‘i include:
- Report language directing the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to update its 1979 calculation of school nutrition assistance program reimbursement rates in Hawai‘i to actually reflect today’s cost of producing a school lunch and breakfast.
- $5,000,000 for the Micro-Grants for Food Security program, which provides grants to increase the quantity and quality of locally grown food through small-scale gardening, herding and livestock operations in food insecure communities in Hawai‘i.
- A $5,000,000 increase to expand USDA’s canine program, which plays a critical role in invasive species and disease detection.
- A $740,000 increase in funding for USDA’s Agriculture Quarantine Inspections, which is vital to preventing the spread of invasive pests and diseases.
- Report language coordinating federal agencies and resources to combat invasive species such as the avocado lace bug, spittlebug and Queensland longhorn beetle.
- Report language promoting tropical and subtropical, floriculture and coffee agricultural research.
- A study examining USDA’s outreach and recruitment activities to Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander farmers and a list of available required resources in additional Asian and Pacific Islander languages.
The bill’s $153 billion in overall federal spending also includes:
- $100 billion in food and nutrition programs for women, infants and children (WIC), targeted child nutrition and supplemental nutrition assistance (SNAP).
- $3.3 billion for agricultural research.
- $4.2 billion for rural development and infrastructure including $1 billion for rural broadband.
Interior and the Environment
This measure includes my request for more than $5 million for much needed improvements to the Pearl Harbor National Memorial. With the Memorial and its attractions reopened In July for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic shut them down in March, these much-needed additional improvements at Pearl Harbor will enhance the visitor experience at these historical sites. The money will go to replace an aging shoreside dock at the Visitor Center, one of two docks used to launch boat tours of Battleship Row.
The bill also makes critical investments in environmental protection and land conservation, clean air and water to protect our communities’ health, earthquake and volcano warning systems, protecting our public lands and endangered species, tribal communities, our territories and climate change mitigation.
Other funding provisions of interest I secured for Hawai‘i include:
- $223.907 million for National Park Service (NPS) construction, which includes $5.647 million for the Pearl Harbor National Memorial and $16.03 million for Kalaupapa National Historical Park.
- $3.5 million for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service State of the Birds Activities, a $250,000 increase. These funds support efforts to recover our most endangered Hawaiian forest bird species.
- $1.25 million for the NPS American Indian and Native Hawaiian Art and Culture Grants program.
- $34 million in DOI Compact Impact funds, which helps Hawai‘i and the Pacific territories offset the costs of Compact migration.
- $3.155 million for the NPS Japanese American Confinement Sites program, which funds the preservation and interpretation of U.S. confinement sites where Japanese Americans were detained during World War II, such as the Honouliuli Internment Camp and Sand Island Detention Camp on O‘ahu.
- $30.695 million, a $429,000 increase, for the U.S. Geological Survey Volcano Hazards Program. This includes funding for the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, which monitors the active volcanoes in Hawai‘i, assesses their hazards, issues warnings, and advances scientific understanding to reduce impacts of volcanic eruptions.
- $15 million, an $800,000 increase, for the NPS National Trails System. This includes the Ala Kahakai National Historical Trail on Hawai‘i Island.
- $3.5 million for brown tree snake research and control.
Other report provisions (directions on the spending of federal funds) of interest to Hawai‘i include:
- Language directing the NPS to fully implement the National Air Tour Management Plan Act of 2000, which requires the NPS and Federal Aviation Administration to promulgate air tour management plans for the nation’s most impacted National Parks, including Hawai‘i Volcanoes and Haleakalā National Parks.
- Language directing the Bureau of Land Management to execute the survey requirements of the Hawaiian Home Lands Recovery Act and consult with Homestead Beneficiary Associations on confirmation of the specific lands classified as Hawaiian Home Lands.
- Language supporting the Smithsonian Institution’s work with the Filipino Veterans Recognition and Education Project on the development of an educational website and accompanying resources to recognize Filipino and American WWII veterans.
- Language ensuring that the NPS consider archaeological collections representing indigenous cultures and remote regions of the country for Save America’s Treasures grants, which provides grants to preserve nationally significant historic properties and collections.
Labor, Health, Human Services and Education
This measure is the main vehicle for funding the principal federal programs benefiting Native Hawaiians, and this year’s bill improves on existing programs, programs which I support and help to fund as a member of both Appropriations and of the House Natural Resources Committee and of its Subcommittee on Indigenous Peoples of the United States with jurisdiction over Native Hawaiian programs. This measure also funds new partnerships to focus on health policy and care disparities facing our indigenous peoples which I hope and believe will include the University of Hawai’i.
Native Hawaiian-related funding I requested and secured include:
- $19M for the Native Hawaiian Health Care program.
- $38M for the Native Hawaiian Education program.
- $19.4M for the Strengthening Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Serving Institutions program.
- $4.7M for the Strengthening Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions program.
- $12.3M for the Native American Caregivers program.
- $67M for the Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health program.
- $5M for the Native American/Native Hawaiian Library Services program.
- $2M for a new Center for Indigenous Innovation and Health Equity consisting of a partnership between the Department of Health and Human Services and two universities to focus on health disparities facing indigenous communities.
Other requests I was able to incorporate in the measure include two focused on Hawai’i’s chronic difficulty in attracting and retaining health care providers, especially in non-urban areas. The first would require the Government Accountability Office (GAO), Congress’ investigative and oversight agency, to conduct a study and report on unique challenges faced by the nation’s non-contiguous areas in recruiting and retaining such health care providers. The second would mandate increased focus on improving primary care, especially in rural and underserved areas to include remote and non-contiguous locations.
The measure also adopted various requests I made for full funding of national programs of special importance to Hawai’i, including:
- $1.76 billion for Job Corps, the premier career and technical education program for out-of-work and out-of-school youth nationwide, including two Job Corps programs in Hawai’i serving hundreds of Hawai’i youth annually.
- $1.65 billion for Community Health Centers, including fourteen throughout Hawai’i which are critical to health care delivery to whole segments of Hawaii’s population especially rural, lower income and Native Hawaiian.
- $10.8 billion for Head Start, which provides the bulk of federal funding to early childhood education and health at various programs throughout Hawai’i.
- $1.49 billion for the Impact Aid Program, through which the federal government contributes to the cost of public education in areas especially impacted by a federal presence such as Hawai’i.
- $2.9 billion for Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act State Grants to assist with employment diversification and job retraining.
This year, as we continue to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, Appropriations is especially focused on further support for schools severely impacted by this public health emergency. Our bill includes $74 billion for education as classes try to reopen as safely as possible this fall.
This bill also continues to fund critical health programs including more than $24 billion targeted for agencies leading the fight against COVID-19: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.
Energy and Water
This bill makes critical investments in accelerating, improving and addressing Hawai‘i’s aging water infrastructure including our harbors, coastal erosion, and aquatic ecosystem restoration. By accelerating work on these infrastructure projects, we are also helping Hawai‘i by providing much needed construction jobs to contribute to economic recovery from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This measure includes the following I requested for national programs that especially benefit Hawai’i:
- $1.68 billion for the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund.
- $8 million for the Continuing Authorities Program (CAP) Section 107, Small Navigation Improvements.
- $10 million for the Continuing Authorities Program (CAP) Section 206, Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration.
- $5 million for the National Shoreline Management Study.
- $7 million for the Coastal and Deep-Draft Program.
- $10 billion for the general Construction Account.
- $20 million for the Aquatic Plant Control Program.
I also secured further operations and maintenance funds for projects including Barbers Point Deep Draft Harbor and Hilo Harbor.
National Department of Energy programs of particular interest to Hawai‘i include:
- $65,000,000 for the State Energy Program Grants. This program will allow Hawai‘i to ramp up energy efficiency, renewable energy projects and grid-modernization projects.
- $60 million for the WaterSMART Grants to help fund water conservation and drought projects, which provide resources for better data collection and analysis of water supply and use.
- $435 million for the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy (ARPA-E).
- $280 million for the Solar Energy Programs to optimize the mix of renewable energy sources in Hawai‘i.
- $150 million for the Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies.
- $285 million for the Building Technologies Office to help reduce energy, water waste and modernize Hawai‘i’s building and industrial facilities.
- $258 million for the Bioenergy Technologies Program to encourage the Department of Energy to continue to address issues regarding biomass and waste. This program is critical in ensuring that Hawai‘i has efficient and cost-effective methods of waste management by funding waste-to energy projects.
Hawai‘i has led the nation when it comes to clean energy, and this measure will ensure that our state can access sufficient federal funding to continue our leadership role by supporting new energy technologies such as reliable and resilient electric grid infrastructure to help our Hawai‘i’s ongoing initiative in achieving 100 percent clean energy by 2045.
This bill also makes critical investments in environmental protection and land conservation, clean air and water to protect our communities’ health, earthquake and volcano warning systems, protecting our public lands and endangered species, tribal communities, and our territories.
When we look at our national defense strategy over the next generation and focus our priorities in this
and other measures dealing with the military, we cannot help but look to Hawaii’s corner of the world, the Indo-Pacific. Spent correctly, this funding will both improve the security of our nation and support one of the key legs of our local economy – federal/defense spending – in continuing to generate good jobs and maintain the best economic foundation possible during the pandemic. Provisions I secured in this measure of direct interest to Hawai‘i include:
- $133 million to continue development of Home Defense Radar – Hawai‘i, (HDR-H) rejecting the Administration’s decision to zero-out funding for the project. The HDR-H is a critical state-of-the-art radar system designed to protect our country and state from ballistic missile threats from countries like North Korea and was strongly supported by our Indo-Pacific military leaders.
- $5 million to assure the full research needed to ensure the safety of military underground fuel storage tanks while the Navy, Environmental Protection Agency and State of Hawai‘i work to determine a permanent solution for the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility. This funding will allow the Navy to improve the facility by developing new techniques for measuring and controlling corrosion; improving testing, inspection, repair and maintenance processes; creating cost-effective secondary containment technology; and improving groundwater monitoring and modeling.
- $77.3 million for the Defense Security Cooperation Agency’s Regional Centers, $3.9 million above the President’s budget. This additional funding will help expand the work of the Daniel K. Inouye Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies (DKI-APCSS), a premier defense-supported research and education center in Honolulu that fosters shared understanding and networked relationships among civilian and military leaders throughout the Indo-Pacific. Coupled with my securing an 18% funding increase for the East-West Center, this support strengthens Hawaii’s position as the center of international cooperation and coordination in the Indo-Pacific.
- $289 million for the Formerly Used Defense Sites / Military Munitions Response program, $72 million more than requested, to help accelerate efforts to remove unexploded ordnance and discarded military munitions in Hawai‘i and throughout the nation. As of September 30, 2018, approximately 5,400 locations nationwide have been identified for investigation and cleanup, including hundreds in Hawai‘i.
- $14 million for the Asia Pacific Regional Initiative (APRI). This program enables the military to execute Theater Security Cooperation activities, such as humanitarian assistance and paying incremental personnel costs of training and exercising with foreign security forces. The initiative is a critical tool for the U.S. military to strengthen relationships throughout the Indo-Pacific region.
- The Appropriations Committee again blocked efforts to change the command and control structure of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. There have been efforts within the department to streamline control of forces under one command structure, which would limit the ability of Navy forces in Hawai‘i to respond quickly to changing threats in the Indo-Pacific region.
- $281 million for the Department of Defense Civil-Military Account, a $31 million increase from the Administration’s proposal. This account supports two critical initiatives – the National Guard Youth Challenge Program and the Innovative Readiness Training Program.
- The National Guard Youth Challenge Program is a voluntary five-month program directed at 16 to 18-year-old at-risk youth and comes at no cost to them or their families. It is led by members of the National Guard who help enhance the cadet’s life, physical development and education skills, along with assisting them in obtaining their high school diploma or GED. In Hawai‘i, 78% of Youth Challenge graduates receive their high school equivalency diploma.
- The Innovative Readiness Training Program is a military training initiative frequently run in Hawai‘i that also provides much-needed community infrastructure through civil-military partnerships.
- Continued funding for the Shipyard Infrastructure Optimization Plan (SIOP) program office. I requested funds to ensure support for the SIOP program office, which is undertaking a $21 billion effort to improve the Navy’s public shipyards, including Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, Hawaii’s largest industrial employer.
- Retention of the military contracting preference language for Native American tribes and Native Hawaiian Organizations.
While Congress works to ensure that our men and women in uniform have the resources necessary to maintain combat readiness in an evolving threat landscape, this funding measure also supports a wide range of programs that help improve our environment and local community. The bill also includes:
- $22.3 billion to procure nine Navy ships, including two SSN-774 Virginia Class attack submarines. The U.S. Pacific Fleet’s submarine force includes multiple Virginia Class attack submarines homeported at Naval Station Pearl Harbor tasked with ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific.
- $1.5 billion for environmental restoration activities, $413 million above the Administration’s request. This added funding will help the military identify, investigate and clean up hazardous substances, pollutants, and contaminants at installations nationwide. It will also support the Readiness and Environmental Protection Initiative, which helps remove or avoid land-use conflicts near installations.
- $196 million for the National Guard Counterdrug Program, an increase of $101 million over the Administration’s request. This program supports military, law enforcement and community-based counterdrug operations at all levels of government so they can anticipate, deter and defeat the threats created by illegal drugs.
- $179 million for the Office of Economic Adjustment, which supports the Defense Community Investment Program and the Public Schools on Military Installations Program. The Defense Community Infrastructure Program is a new grant program designed to help state and local governments improve and expand local infrastructure to accommodate growing defense installations.
The Public Schools on Military Installations Program helps military installations that have schools with serious capacity or facility deficiencies.
- $50 million for military Impact Aid programs, with $10 million specifically set aside for children with severe disabilities. This program reimburses local educational agencies for money previously spent on military dependent children.
- $150 million to the Defense Health Program to respond to COVID–19.
- Prohibitions against the use of military funds for a border wall at our troops’ expense.
Commerce, Justice and Science
I am also a member of this subcommittee, which is the main vehicle for funding the principal federal programs benefiting our oceans and atmosphere, As I am also a member of the House Natural Resources Committee and its Subcommittee on Water, Oceans and Wildlife with jurisdiction over national ocean programs, these positions assist me in focusing on our world’s oceans, which is not only critical to our planet’s wellbeing but very beneficial to continuing Hawaii’s position and one of the world’s leading experts on the oceans and to expanding the federal support and good jobs that result.
Among all the critical programs this bill will continue to fund, one literally rises to the top: the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) observatory on Mauna Loa, which has provided consistent measurements of the level of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere for more than 60 years. The work atop Mauna Loa is the basis of the world-renowned ‘Keeling Curve’, demonstrating rapidly accelerating climate change beyond any reasonable scientific doubt, with its data relied upon by more than 500 external partners and stakeholders internationally. This bill will further upgrade the capabilities of the observatory and NOAA’s other Atmospheric Baseline Observatories to ensure that we have the latest accurate understanding of how our atmosphere is changing and what we must do to level that curve.
Among the other ocean and atmosphere-related funding requests I secured in this Appropriations measure are:
- $58 million, a $2.5 million increase, for the NOAA National Marine Sanctuaries Program, which includes the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument and the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary.
- $34 million, a $5.5 million increase, for the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program.
- Rejection of the President’s proposed $11 million cut for the NOAA Tsunami Warning Program.
- $42.724 million for Ocean Exploration and Research, which is expected to fund work to map our Exclusive Economic Zone around Hawai‘i and the Pacific.
- $9 million for the Marine Debris Program to clean up our oceans and develop solutions to land-generated debris.
- $127 million for Marine Mammals, Sea Turtles, and Other Protected Species, a $4.8 million increase. These funds help to protect Hawai‘i species including monk seals and Hawaiian green sea turtles.
My other requests in the bill focus on helping communities and industries in need of support include:
- A directive to the Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration to report to Congress on how the federal government can best assist the travel and tourism industry to address the severe effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- $52 million, a $10 million increase, for the Minority Business Development Agency. This includes $3 million for Native American Business Development, including Native Hawaiians.
- $38 million, a $2 million increase, for the NASA Minority University Research and Education Project to support minority-serving institutions and its underrepresented and underserved students, including women and girls, and persons with disabilities, into science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.
The measure also adopted my various other requests for funding of national programs of special importance to Hawai‘i, including:
- NSF Astronomy Assets, which includes the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope on Maui.
- NASA Planetary Defense programs, which support the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Reporting System (Pan-STARRS) on Maui.
- $343 million, rejecting the President’s proposed cuts, for the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) program.
- $88 million for the National Instant Background Checks System (NICS) to run background checks on gun purchases.
- $348 million, a $15 million increase, for the U.S. Commercial Service, which offers American companies a full range of expertise in international trade to export and expand to new markets. Honolulu hosts an office of the U.S. Commercial Service focused on exporting Hawai‘i products to Asia.
Transportation, Housing and Urban Development
This measure starts by investing $75 billion in upgrading our nation’s transportation and housing infrastructure. This will not only upgrade aging facilities and networks, but assist in stabilizing our job market as we recover from COVID-19.
It also boosts key federal programs assuring affordable housing to the most vulnerable among us, such as the homeless, elderly, those with disabilities and too many of our veterans. These programs are especially critical in high-cost Hawai‘i and so were among my highest requests to my committee.
This funding measure also includes a provision that would give the Federal Transit Administration, the federal agency that oversees federal cost-sharing of transit projects, flexibility to amend the local cost share. “This could assist HART’s critical financing needs as the tax revenues supporting local funding of the project dry up amidst the COVID-19 economic effects.
My requests for funding of housing programs and projects include:
- $24 million for the Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant program. The bill doubles regular funding to $4 million for FY21, and adds another $20 million for COVID-specific economic recovery infrastructure funding.
- Rejects the President’s proposal to rescind $2 million from the Native Hawaiian Housing Loan Guarantee program.
- $25.7 billion for the Tenant-based Rental Assistance (also known as the Section 8) program, a $1.9 billion increase.
- $3.4 billion for Homeless Assistance Grants, a $638 million increase.
- $60 million for programs to help homeless veterans, a $20 million increase.
- $1.65 billion for Supportive Housing for the Elderly, which includes $893 million, a $100 million increase, for FY 2021 and $750 million for COVID economic recovery infrastructure funding.
- $406 million for Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities, which includes $227 million, a $25 million increase, for FY 2021 and $179 million for COVID economic recovery infrastructure funding.
In response to ongoing concerns in Hawai‘i arising from virtually unregulated tour helicopter and other commercial flights, this appropriations measure also includes my multiple provisions to require the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to address various chronic and worsening safety and community disruption issues. Among these provisions are directives to the FAA to:
- Report to Congress on the implementation of the National Parks Air Tour Management Act, which requires the FAA and National Park Service to establish air tour management plans for the most impacted National Parks, including Hawai‘i Volcanoes and Haleakalā National Parks.
- Report to Congress on how FAA has implemented National Transportation Safety Board recommendations on commercial tour flights, and, if FAA decided not to implement these recommendations, they will need to explain why they were not implemented.
- Report on the activities undertaken by the newly established Regional Ombudsmen, who serve as the regional liaisons on issues regarding aircraft noise, pollution and safety.
- Report on the current FAA in-take and response process for noise complaints and the process expected after the Noise Complaint and Inquiry Database and Tracking System (Noise Portal) is implemented nationally.
- Encourage research on the health effects of exploding aircraft noise throughout the United States.
The measure also adopted my various requests for maximum support of other national programs of special importance to Hawai‘i, including:
- $5 billion in COVID economic recovery infrastructure funding for Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Capital Investment Grants (CIG), as well as flexibility for FTA to amend the local cost share for Full Funding Grant Agreement CIG projects, such as the Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transit, due the impacts of the COVID pandemic.
- $162 million for the Essential Air Service Program, which supports rural communities, such as Hāna and Kamuela, to ensure essential air service.
- $61.9 billion, consistent with the INVEST in America Act, for highway programs funded from the Highway Trust Fund, an increase of $14.7 billion.
- A directive to the Federal Highways Administration (FHWA) to report to the Congress on shoreline erosion impacting roadways in Hawai‘i and the island U.S. Territories. The report is to include a list of coastal roads most vulnerable to sea level rise and recommendations for addressing shoreline erosion impacting these roadways. FHWA is also directed to provide technical assistance to departments of transportation in Hawai‘i and the affected territories as they develop their transportation budgets and priorities.
- $7.5 billion for the Community Development Block Grant Program, including $3.5 billion, a $100 million increase, for FY 2021, and $4 billion for COVID economic recovery infrastructure funding.
Financial Services and General Government
This measure is the main vehicle for funding the principal federal programs promoting small business development and economic diversification, and this year’s bill provides additional funding to these programs, which are even more critical yet having been strained by demand due to the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. It also provides critical funding for programs that help our
Native Hawaiian entrepreneurs and nonprofits expand their reach throughout our communities. These are my community and economic development funding requests included in this measure:
- $4 million for the Federal and State Technology Partnership (FAST) Program to foster innovative, technology-driven small business development;
- $20.5 million for the State Trade & Export Promotion Program;
- $277 million for the SBA’s Entrepreneurial Development Programs;
- $24.5 million for Women’s Business Centers;
- $35 million for the Microloan Technical Assistance Program;
- $140 million for Small Business Development Centers;
- $3 million for the Historically Underutilized Business Zones Program;
- $273 million for the Community Development Financial Institutions Fund, which supports community focused CDFIs such as the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement;
- $16 million for the Native Community Development Financial Institutions Fund;
- $2 million for the Community Development Revolving Loan Fund;
- $102 million for the Drug Free Communities Program; and
- $290 million for the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program.
Other requests incorporated in the measure include efforts to map and develop broadband to close the digital divide in Hawai‘i. I want to especially highlight first-time funding of $33 million for the Broadband DATA Act. This provision will allow for more precise broadband data maps, making it easier for federal programs to support broadband development in Hawai‘i.
The measure also included $61 billion in emergency funding for the FCC to support the expansion of broadband to unserved areas and multi-year funding for the replacement of telecommunications equipment deemed essential to national security. The bill will also fund the recent House passage of H.R. 2, the Moving Forward Act, which included $100 billion in supplemental broadband development funding. The measure also adopted various of my requests to support national initiatives of special importance to Hawai’i, including:
- An extension of Hawaii’s longstanding fourth temporary federal district judgeship.
- Language directing the Internal Revenue Service to develop tax notices in Chinese, Vietnamese and Tagalog.
This year, as we continue to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, Appropriations especially focused on further support for election security and voter access, and this bill includes $500 million for Election Security Grants to enhance efforts by State and local election officials to improve the security of elections for our upcoming elections.
The Indo-Pacific is the most dynamic and consequential region in the world, to include two of the world’s largest economies (China and the United States), 9 of the 10 busiest seaports and 60 percent of global maritime trade. Hawai’i is at the center of the Indo-Pacific’s future, and the Coast Guard is a critical part of our country’s efforts in maritime security, humanitarian and other region-wide engagement.
As a founding member of the first-ever Congressional Pacific Islands Caucus, I was able to gain approval for an overall funding level of $12.8 billion for the Coast Guard, including language advocating for an increased operational role for the Coast Guard in our national Indo-Pacific Strategy and requiring a new strategic intent report to reflect the Coast Guard’s evolving and growing role in the region.
The Committee’s Homeland Security bill funds the Department of Homeland Security, which includes the U.S. Coast Guard, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Transportation Security Administration (TSA), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency and more.
The bill also includes my report language addressing the introduction of invasive species to Hawai‘i and other non-contiguous territories, including through ballast water discharge. We must continue to mitigate and prevent the spread of invasive species to Hawai‘i, where we have seen 195 new invasive species introduced since 2005 alone. Invasive species pose a significant ecological and economic threat to our Hawai‘i, with especially damaging impacts on local agriculture.
This measure also includes $3.66 billion in federal grants and training programs for FEMA, which have been so critical to Hawaii’s response to a number of disasters in recent years in addition to the COVID-19 pandemic. These include:
- $795 million for the Urban Areas Security Initiative, an increase of $130 million above the FY 2020 enacted level.
- $385 million for Emergency Management Performance Grants, an increase of $30 million above the FY 2020 enacted level. This program helps fund the Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency.
- $700 million for the State Homeland Security Grant Program, an increase of $140 million over the FY 2020 enacted level.
- $770 million for firefighter grants, with $385 million for each of the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response and Firefighters Grant Programs.
- $150 million for the Emergency Food and Shelter Program, an increase of $25 million above the FY 2020 enacted level.
Other provisions I secured in the bill of interest to Hawai‘i include:
- Report language directing CBP to consult and provide recommendations with the Department of Agriculture and other state and local partners on preventing the introduction of invasive species to Hawai‘i and non-contiguous U.S. territories.
- Report language requiring a report by the Coast Guard on current enforcement efforts on ballast water management and discharge and additional resources needed to expand enforcement and prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.
- $101 million, level funding from FY 2020, for the National Domestic Preparedness Consortium, which includes the National Disaster Preparedness Training Center at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.
Finally, the bill also provides $7.6 billion for TSA, an increase of $202 million above the FY 2020 enacted level. This includes $90.1 million to continue funding TSA staffing of exit lanes at about a third of our country’s airports, as well as $46.4 million for the Local Law Enforcement Reimbursement Program. The bill also invests in new technology to enhance the operational capabilities of TSA.
More information on my initiatives and other efforts can be found on my website at case.house.gov. Again, I welcome your own input and questions on any matter.
I remain at your service and wish you and yours the very best as we all get through this together.
P.S. Please sign up for my regular e-newsletter here.