Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley recently announced key provisions in education and health care in the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education bill that will fund programs that support frontline health care workers and educators, who have suffered through the strain of a global pandemic for nearly two years. The bill is the basis for negotiations with the House, as Congress works to fund the government for fiscal year 2022.
“As both a dad of two kids and the husband of a nurse who worked on the front lines throughout the pandemic, I felt deeply for everyone in our communities who suffered the extra strain of navigating teaching, parenting, and working in health care professions over the past 18 months,” Merkley said. “This bill not only contains critical investments in federal programs that support nursing, health care, research, and education, it also contains funding for scores of projects identified by our Oregon communities as important for our friends and neighbors to thrive on the other side of the pandemic. This bill delivers in a big way for Oregon and the nation, and it’s critical that the appropriations process move ahead without delay to make sure these critical investments become reality.”
Merkley is the only Oregon member of Congress from either chamber since Senator Mark Hatfield to serve on the Appropriations Committee, considered to be one of the most powerful on Capitol Hill. He joined the committee in 2013 so that Oregon would have a strong voice in decisions about the investments our nation should be making.
The Labor, Health and Human Services and Education bill includes research and workforce development funding that will help health care professionals, as well as funding to help students from underserved populations:
Nursing: The bill includes $280.9 million to support nurses in Oregon and across the country. Merkley led 36 senators in a letter to the committee leaders to push for an increase in federal funding for nursing workforce development. Oregon benefitted from nearly $2 million in program funding in prior years.
Women’s Health: The bill includes $237 million to combat this country’s maternal mortality crisis. The bill would also improve access to care by repealing the Hyde Amendment, the abortion coverage restriction, for those who depend on Medicaid and other government-sponsored plans.
Medical Research: The bill includes a $5 billion increase in funding for the National Institutes of Health, totaling more than $47.9 billion in the fight against cancer, Alzheimer’s, and other devastating diseases.
Institute of Education Sciences: The bill includes $814.5 million to support innovation, evidence, and evaluation in education. Merkley led 17 senators in a letter to the committee advocating for this investment.
Migrant Students: The bill includes $66.1 million for education programs for migrant students. Through this program, higher education and non-profit organizations can receive funding to give migrant and seasonal farmworkers and their children the opportunity to attend higher education or earn their GED. Oregon State University, Chemeketa Community College, Portland Community College, and Treasure Valley Community College receive funds through this program.
Accessible Education: The bill includes a $2.6 billion increase for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) Part B State Grants to assist states in providing a free, appropriate education for children with disabilities and provide support services for over 7.6 million students.
Students: The bill includes $1.3 billion for TRIO, a set of eight educational programs that supports students from first-generation college students and individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds; as the first person in his family to go to college, Merkley knows firsthand the value of this type of support, and has been a fierce advocate for the funding.
Career Training: The bill includes $2.1 billion, a $100 million increase, for Career and Technical Education, which supports the workforce and economy by training young people to fill in-demand, twenty-first century jobs.
Community Services Block Grants: The bill includes $800 million, a $24.7 million increase, for the program which provides critical support for rural Oregon communities. Merkley led 30 senators in a letter to the committee pushing to preserve and increase funding for the program.
Community Service: The bill funds AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers at $103.8 million; Senior Corps programs at $244.5 million; and State AmeriCorps grants at $480 million.
The next step for the bill is a full Senate vote, and eventually merging with a counterpart bill from the U.S. House of Representatives in order to be passed by both houses and signed into law.
In addition to the funding allotments above, Merkley, along with Senator Ron Wyden, secured in the bill federal funding for specific community projects throughout Oregon, including:
$500,000 for Oregon Association of Relief Nurseries, for the prevention of child abuse.
$840,000 for Southern Oregon Success, for services to prevent abuse and neglect, homelessness, and addiction.
$1.276 million for Oregon Social Learning Center Developments Inc., to promote child welfare.
$79,000 for the Council on Aging of Central Oregon, for equipment.
$232,000 for Easterseals Oregon, to support an outreach program.
$400,000 for Urban League of Portland, for workforce development and training.
$500,000 for Oregon Tradeswomen, for expansion of registered apprenticeships.
$500,000 for Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center, for career training and placement services.
$544,000 for Baker Technical Institute, for heavy equipment and trucking and logistics training programs, including the purchase of equipment.
$165,000 for Northwest Mothers Milk Bank, for equipment.
$175,000 for SPOON Foundation, for workforce development.
$189,000 for Trillium Family Services, for equipment.
$199,000 for the City of Elgin, for equipment.
$250,000 for Mano a Mano Family Center, for workforce development.
$500,000 for OCHIN, Inc., for equipment.
$503,000 for Oregon Coast Community College, for equipment.
$660,000 for La Pine Rural Fire Protection District, for equipment.
$850,000 for Bandon Community Health Center, for facilities and equipment.
$943,000 for Oregon Health & Science University, for equipment.
$1 million for Oregon Institute of Technology (Oregon Tech), to improve health care services.
$1 million for Parrott Creek Child & Family Services, for facilities and equipment.
$1.3 million for Deschutes Rim Clinic Foundation, for facilities and equipment.
$1.5 million for Lane County, for facilities and equipment.
$2 million for Community Action Program of East Central Oregon, for facilities and equipment.
$2.124 million for Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center, for facilities and equipment.
$449,000 for Oregon State University, for professional learning opportunities in timber design.
$600,000 for Portland State University, for education and training programs in cybersecurity.
$50,000 for Winston Area Community Partnership, for the Winston Community Teen Center, including equipment.
$56,000 for Willamalane Park and Recreation District, for mobile technology lab, including equipment.
$93,000 for Circle of Friends, for youth development and mentoring, including equipment.
$250,000 for Latino Network, for early childhood education.
$500,000 for College Possible, for college access programming, including technology and student support.
$645,000 for Oregon Manufacturing Innovation Center (OMIC), for career and technical education, including equipment.
$900,000 for High Desert Education Service District, for expansion of a childhood trauma program.
$100,000 for Mental Health for Children, dba The Child Center, for the expansion of access to school-based mental health services.
$375,000 for Multnomah County, for behavioral health care services.
$433,000 for Lines for Life, for mental health care and crisis intervention services.
$459,000 for Oregon Center for Nursing, to support the mental health and emotional well-being of nurses.
$501,000 for Rogue Retreat, for services for individuals with mental health or substance use disorders.
$535,000 for Friends of the Children, for mental health care services to youth and families.
$750,000 for Youth Rising Oregon, for substance abuse treatment for youth parents.
“The trauma nurses have experienced through this pandemic has been well-documented, and impact it has had on the nursing workforce will be felt for many years to come,” said Jana Bitton, executive director of the Oregon Center for Nursing. “OCN’s RN Well-Being Project will work at a community level to support nurses’ mental and emotional health as we move toward the next normal. Many thanks to Sen. Merkley, who has been a constant champion for nursing and nursing workforce in Oregon, for making this important work possible.”
“As our communities work to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, we have the opportunity to not only help our current clients find their footing, but also increase our programming to help around 500 families move from desperation to stability,” said Joe McFerrin II, president & CEO of Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center. “With this $500,000 in federal funding, we will be able to serve hundreds more through our culturally specific job training programs, ultimately placing them in living-wage careers in industries like construction, culinary arts, tech, and more. We thank Senator Merkley for working to secure this important funding for our community.”
“We can’t say enough how excited and thankful we are that Senator Merkley successfully included the renovation and expansion of our youth residential care facilities in this spending bill,” said Simon Fulford, executive director of Parrott Creek Child & Family Services. “This project is part of our vision to become a regional center of excellence providing services to vulnerable children and families. Not only will it allow us to expand our services, we will be able to build new buildings using trauma-informed and environmentally sustainable design principles. Our communities will be feeling the long term impacts of the coronavirus pandemic for many years to come and this project will allow us to meet the behavioral health and related needs of highly traumatized children and youth for many, many years. The project is estimated to create 25 construction jobs in the short term and over 20 social care jobs upon completion. We thank Senator Merkley for his leadership, and urge Congress to include this funding in the final bill.”
“With this CDS funding we are able to replace our 13-year-old ambulance,” said Elgin Mayor Risa Hallgarth. “What a blessing to know our community emergencies will be responded to with complete confidence in our new vehicle. A BIG thank you to all for making this happen.”