Alexander Votes to Fund Meth Lab Cleanup in Tennessee, Community Development Block Grants and TIGER Grants to Support Infrastructure

Posted on July 27, 2017

WASHINGTON, July 27, 2017 — United States Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) released the following statement after voting in favor of three appropriations bills approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee. The legislation included Alexander’s provision directing the U.S. Secretary of Transportation to issue a rule prohibiting the use of cell phones for voice calls on flights. 

“These three appropriations bills provide critical funding for Tennessee projects and priorities – such as helping build roads and bridges, supporting housing needs, cleaning up methamphetamine labs and ensuring law enforcement has the tools they need to fight crime. At my request, language was also included to direct the U.S. Secretary of Transportation to issue a rule to prohibit the use of cell phones for voice calls on commercial flights and helps ensure the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is prioritizing the massive backlog of more than 73,000 unresolved workplace discrimination complaints it inherited from the Obama administration.”

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved the Fiscal Year 2018 Transportation, Housing & Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, the Fiscal Year 2018 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, and the Fiscal Year 2018 Legislative Branch Appropriations bill. Today’s vote means these three funding bills are ready to be considered by the full Senate.

Fiscal Year 2018 Transportation, Housing & Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill

The Fiscal Year 2018 Transportation, Housing & Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill includes:

  • Language directing the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation to issue a rule prohibiting the use of cell phones for voice calls on flights. The language included in the appropriations bill is similar to bipartisan legislation Alexander introduced  in June. Alexander has said, “Stop and think about what we hear now in airport lobbies from those who wander around shouting personal details into their phones: babbling about next week’s schedule, orders to an assistant, or arguments with spouses. Now imagine nearly two million passengers, hurtling through space yapping their innermost thoughts while you travel restrained by your seatbelt and unable to escape. Keeping phone conversations off commercial flights may not be enshrined in the Constitution, but surely it is enshrined in common sense.”
  • $45 billion for the Federal-aid highway program to support road and bridge construction nationwide.
  • $550 million for the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery “TIGER” grant program, which awards competitive grants to communities in Tennessee and across the country to fund significant transportation projects, including highways and bridges, public transportation systems, passenger and freight railroads and port infrastructure.
  • $3 billion in funding for the Community Development Block Grant program, which provides funding to low and moderate income communities to support economic development, housing and infrastructure needs in Tennessee and across the country.

Fiscal Year 2018 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill

The Fiscal Year 2018 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill will:

  • Provide $41 million for supercomputing at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which supports funding for the Gaea Climate Supercomputer at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.  
  • Provide $17 million to states and local governments to support efforts to clean up methamphetamine labs and form anti-methamphetamine task forces.
  • Provide $36 million to help law enforcement agencies track down and arrest criminal suspects across the country by sharing information through the Regional Information Sharing Systems Program (RISS).
  • Require the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) to focus on reducing the “massive” backlog of more than 73,000 workplace discrimination complaints it inherited from the Obama administration instead of initiating lawsuits from investigations which were begun without any individual filing a complaint and give the public an opportunity to weigh in on any new guidance proposed by the agency.

Fiscal Year 2018 Legislative Branch Appropriations bill

The Fiscal Year 2018 Legislative Branch Appropriations bill will:

  • Provide $422.5 million for the U.S. Capitol Police.
  • Provide $638.9 million for the Library of Congress.
  • Provide $562.8 for the Government Accountability Office, which is the government agency that provides investigative services for the United States Congress.

Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the Fiscal Year 2018 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill. Sen. Alexander is chairman of the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee.