U.S. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) supported the passage of the Omnibus Appropriations bill which funds the federal government through the end of the 2018 fiscal year and includes many priorities important to Texas:
Reducing Gun Violence
- The Omnibus Appropriations of 2018 includes Senator Cornyn’s Fix NICS Act to strengthen the criminal background check system to ensure convicted felons and domestic abusers cannot illegally purchase a firearm.
- It also includes the Students, Teachers, and Officers Preventing (STOP) School Violence Act, of which Senator Cornyn is an original cosponsor, which funds school security improvements and invests in early intervention and prevention programs to stop school violence before it occurs.
- The Omnibus Appropriations of 2018 allocates $1.57 billion for a border security tactical infrastructure package based on provisions in Senator Cornyn’s Building America’s Trust Act that focus on improving existing border wall systems and increasing technology. Specifically, the Omnibus provides funding for:
- Replacement and upgrade of existing primary fencing along entire Southwest border;
- Additional border security technology for situational awareness;
- And prevents funds from being used to deploy barriers in Santa Ana National Wildlife Refuge.
- Additionally, the bill increases funding for border Port of Entry construction and improvements, including 328 new CBP officers for ports of entry.
- The Omnibus Appropriations of 2018 increases defense funding by over $61 billion above fiscal year 2017, the largest increase of defense spending in 15 years. This funding provides a pay raise for military personnel and provides the Department of Defense with greater funding flexibility with the operation and maintenance accounts to avoid the “use it or lose it” dilemma.
- The bill includes funding for 90 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, 14 V-22 Ospreys, two C-40 aircraft for the Marine Corps, 29 Bell AH-1Z helicopters and six C-130s for the National Guard.
- Additionally, the Omnibus includes Senator Cornyn’s Veteran Urgent Access to Mental Healthcare Act, legislation to require the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Secretary to provide initial mental health assessments and healthcare services to veterans with an other than honorable (OTH) discharge, including those that may be at risk of suicide or harming others.
Crime and Law Enforcement
- The Omnibus Appropriations of 2018 provides increases in funding available for domestic human trafficking victims’ programs, including programs funded by Senator Cornyn’s Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act and programs that will be reauthorized by Senator Cornyn’s Abolish Human Trafficking Act.
- The bill also provides funding for the Debbie Smith DNA Backlog Grant Program, a program reauthorized by Senator Cornyn’s Debbie Smith Crime Victims’ Rights Act, to reduce the national rape kit backlog.
- The Omnibus includes funding for implementation of Senator Cornyn’s POLICE Act, which provides active-shooter training for state and local law enforcement.
- The Omnibus Appropriations of 2018 increases funding for NASA Space Launch System and Orion manned spacecraft, the next crewed vehicle for NASA being developed at Johnson Space Center.
- The Omnibus Appropriations of 2018 modifies a provision from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to ensure farmers and ranchers receive the 20% pass-through deduction and are able to retain tax benefits that had been available to agricultural cooperatives and their farmer patrons under prior law.
- The Omnibus Appropriations of 2018 increases funding for state grants, charter management organizations, and other related entities to expand and improve charter schools, with a portion of the funds targeted to the expansion of charter schools in rural areas. The bill also includes funding for a program to help school districts with large military populations.
Transportation and Infrastructure
- The Omnibus Appropriations of 2018 includes additional funding for national investment grants (TIGER program), ensures the near term solvency of the Highway Trust Fund, and increases funding for the Contract Tower program which provides air traffic control service at designated towers in primarily rural airports.
- The bill also includes language supported by Senator Cornyn to mandate that the Department of Transportation expedite the entry of new towers, such as the North Texas Regional Airport, into the contract tower program.
- The bill also allocates funding for a new rural broadband grant and loan program targeted to areas that currently lack access to broadband services.
Senator John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, is a member of the Senate Finance, Intelligence, and Judiciary Committees.