Washington, D.C. - Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet today announced that several Colorado priorities are included in the $1.1 trillion omnibus budget deal to fund the government through September 30, 2017.
"This bipartisan agreement removes the threat of a government shutdown and makes significant investments in education, infrastructure, and science programs that are important to Colorado," Bennet said. "During a time of unprecedented mistrust in government, this agreement is an example of a responsible, bipartisan solution to maintain important investments in our country."
Below are several Colorado priorities secured by Bennet and included in the budget deal:
- Provides $3 million for the Arkansas Valley Conduit, six times more funding than previous years. Bennet worked with the Senate Appropriations Committee to include this funding to ensure work on the Conduit will continue.
- Restores year-round eligibility for the Pell Grant program, which will allow college students to continue their coursework during summer months. Bennet has pushed for year-round Pell grants since it was cut in 2011.
- Provides $150 million for the Denver RTD Eagle P3 project to complete the next phase of the Denver metro area's light rail transportation project.
- Fully funds the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) program, which provides Colorado counties with funding to carry out vital services like fire and police protection, school construction, and road maintenance. Bennet has consistently advocated for full funding of this program.
- Fully funds the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), located in Golden.
- Increases investments in NASA, including $2.15 billion for the Space Launch System and $1.35 billion for the Orion Crew Exploration Program. Dozens of Colorado aerospace companies are involved in these projects.
- Increases funding for the Transportation Security Administration, including more money for security in unsecure areas and funding to help reduce long wait times at airports. Bennet worked with Denver International Airport to secure this funding to support the airport's efforts to enhance security and improve the efficiency of its screening process.
- Includes language that will allow Colorado businesses to hire returning workers through the H-2B visa program. More than 300 Colorado businesses rely on the H-2B visa program to hire temporary non-agricultural workers for seasonal jobs that are vital to our state's economy.