Rep. Schrader Supports Funding Package that Includes Wildfire Fixes for Oregon
Congressman Kurt Schrader (OR-05) today voted for the FY2018 Omnibus spending package that includes multiple provisions for Oregon that Rep. Schrader has led, including legislation that will fix the broken system of ‘fire-borrowing’ and improve our forest management to help prevent wildfires across the west. Also included in the package is funding for Secure Rural Schools (SRS) for Oregon counties, and legislation to reduce gun violence.
“After six months of short-term, skeleton funding bills that did nothing to address some of the biggest challenges we are currently facing in Oregon, I’m very pleased to finally see a package that not only has real meat to it, but actually includes some of our top priorities,” said Rep. Schrader. “While this package isn’t perfect, it contains countless wins that we’ve been working tirelessly on for Oregon for years. Finally, the wildfires we face out west are receiving similar treatment as the hurricanes and other natural disasters in the east. This package not only fixes the endless cycle of ‘fire-borrowing,’ but it also improves our forest management practices to help prevent the devastating wildfires in the first place. It also renews funding for the Secure Rural Schools program which provides funding for critical services to our rural communities.\
“I’m also encouraged by some of the actions the bill takes on immigration reform. Rather than funding 12,000 new detention beds and nearly 1,000 new ICE agents, as the President requested, this bill provides funding for ZERO new beds and ZERO new agents. It also caps the number of new investigators, analysts, and attorneys that DHS can hire. At the very least, this means we aren’t taking more steps backwards as we continue the fight to protect the tens of thousands of Dreamers in Oregon, and the hundreds of thousands more across the country.
“While not the exact bill that I would have written, this package is a net win for Oregonians. This is a great example of the kind of good, bipartisan governance that both chambers can get done if we roll up our sleeves, put the politicking aside, and focus on our communities’ needs back at home.”
Since coming to Congress in 2009, Rep. Schrader has spearheaded countless pieces of legislation to curb the destruction caused by wildfires in Oregon and across the west. Included in the package is legislation reintroduced by Rep. Schrader and Congressman Mike Simpson (R-ID-02) to fix the current budgeting process for wildfires. Their legislation, the Wildfire Disaster Funding Act, ends the practice known as ‘fire-borrowing’ by treating wildfires like other natural disasters when wildfire suppression costs are exhausted. Also included is Rep. Schrader’s Electricity Reliability and Forest Protection Act, which passed the House last summer with overwhelming bipartisan support but had yet to move through the Senate. The legislation will improve the safety and reliability of the electric grid on our federal lands by providing utility companies the ability to rapidly remove hazardous vegetation by receiving pre-approval from the Forest Service. Also included in the package is two years of funding for the Secure Rural Schools (SRS) program which supports rural counties in Oregon and across the country with funding for critical programs. Funding for the program expired in 2015 and had yet to be renewed.
Last fall, Rep. Schrader took a number of actions in an effort to bring attention to the historic wildfires that ripped through communities across the west, participating in Committee hearings on forest management, successfully calling for supplemental funding to support wildfire suppression in Oregon, and taking to the House floor to draw attention to the dire need for better forest management to prevent these fires in Oregon.
The package includes increases to funding for a number of education programs that have been priorities for Rep. Schrader. Funding for IDEA Part B for Special Education received a $275 million increase, while career and technical education programs received a $75 million increase. TRIO and GEAR UP, programs aimed at disadvantaged, first-generation college students and children of migrant workers, see a combined increase of $70 million over fiscal year 2017 levels. Additionally, it contains a number of provisions to help reduce gun violence of which Rep. Schrader, a gun owner and 2nd amendment supporter, is a cosponsor including legislation to repeal the Dickey Amendment, which currently prohibits federal dollars from being used for research into gun violence prevention, and legislation to update and improve the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).