SUPPLEMENTAL SPENDING BILL, TO BE CONSIDERED BY CONGRESS IN THE NEXT FEW DAYS, MUST CONTAIN CRUCIAL FUNDS FOR ESSENTIAL AMERICAN PROGRAMS
In the next few days Congress is scheduled to consider a supplemental spending bill for 2010. A supplemental spending bill is an almost annual legislative occurrence which pays for unexpected expenses which may arise after the annual appropriations cycle (which is meant to be completed by October), including natural disasters, unexpected economic downturns, or wars.
This year the supplemental spending bill is perhaps more vital than before: at risk are more than 100,000 teachers’ jobs nationwide, an estimated 5,525 law enforcement officers, and an untold number of firefighters all of whom were hired with federal stimulus dollars. These jobs, and the services they provide, are at risk as states and local municipalities struggle to make ends meet as the economy has not recovered as quickly as had been originally hoped. As drafted by House Appropriations Chairman David Obey (WI), the supplemental appropriations bill contains just over $24 billion in federal assistance to states and local governments to keep the teachers, police officers and firefighters doing their jobs, and helping their communities, for up to 3 years.
As proposed the Supplemental spending bill would also provide $5.667 billion to meet the current shortfall, which was unanticipated last year, in the Pell Grant Program, which benefited more than 8 million college students this year; more than $13 billion for the payment of benefits to Vietnam veterans and survivors for exposure to Agent Orange, the full effects of which we are just beginning to understand. This funding will result in an estimated 86,069 people becoming eligible to receive retroactive payments and 67,259 people becoming eligible to receive new benefits; monies to assist in the on-going efforts to help the nation of Haiti, which was devastated by a horrible earthquake earlier this year; and $224 million to help mitigate some of the current problems resulting from the Gulf Coast oil spill. This includes: $83 million for unemployment assistance related to the oil spill and an oil spill relief employment program; $14 million to respond to economic impacts on fishermen; $10 million for Justice legal activities; and $5 million for economic recovery planning. The bill also requires that all costs directly related to the Gulf Coast oil spill must be reimbursed to the federal government by the responsible parties.