Trone says budget bill includes big wins for region
Credit: Cumberland Times-News, Greg Larry
CUMBERLAND — U.S. Rep. David Trone said Western Maryland will directly benefit from new budget bill legislation with dollars expected for the battle against opioid abuse, increasing broadband connectivity and funding for a north-south highway connector.
The $1.4 trillion spending package that ensures the federal government will remain open was signed by President Donald Trump on Friday.
“The budget bill was bipartisan coming together for next year,” Trone, a Democrat who represents the 6th District, said Wednesday in an interview with the Times-News. “In that we got a couple big wins for Western Maryland.”
The House-passed legislation included funding requested by Trone for top priorities in the 6th District, including funding to combat the opioid epidemic, expand access to rural broadband, supporting the National Institute of Health’s life-saving medical research and raise the pay for federal employees.
“This bipartisan bill keeps our government open and puts a down payment on the continued success of the American people,” Trone said. “The bills respond to the devastating impact of the opioid epidemic with increased funding for Head Start and SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) and invest in future economic success of our communities by funding broadband and infrastructure.”
The funding included $640 million in expansion of rural broadband service. Trone attended the Rural Broadband Roundtable in September about the need for more broadband access.
“We got $640 million to drive rural broadband,” Trone said. “To build jobs, all of my life I’ve been a business person, the first thing you have to do is have good connectivity. It is needed and we need to expand more in the rural areas.”
The funding package includes $100 million for Appalachian Highway Development System, including improvements at U.S. Route 219.
“The past few years, there hasn’t been carved-out funding for ADHS,” Trone said. “We asked and pushed for this funding that would go toward finishing the road in Maryland.”
Trone said the money for highway development will be followed up with collaboration with Pennsylvania and West Virginia to help finish the road’s network.
“They had quit funding it,” Trone said. “It affects Western Maryland. So I got together with John Joyce in Pennsylvania and David McKinley of West Virginia … two Republicans and a Democrat. The plan is to keep that funding going and for it to find its way to Pennsylvania.”
Trone said he will also be looking for highway funding from “some states in the South that built out their system and didn’t use all their money. So we are working with them to find a way to borrow and access that. We identified it state by state, again getting bipartisan support.”
The package also includes money for children impacted by the opioid epidemic and for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study childhood trauma and ACEs — adverse childhood experiences.
“This was a direct request because of how the opioid epidemic is affecting families in Western Maryland and across the state and country,” Trone said.
The package allocates $69 million — an increase in $5 million from last year for the National Child Traumatic Stress Initiative of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Trone said the funding package includes $250 million for Head Start to prioritize addressing adverse childhood experiences within a community.
“One of the unintended tragedies of addiction in a family is the children,” the congressman said. “They get lost in the shuffle and oftentimes get no food and no education. This really came from going into the community and seeing that kids are being a casualty.”
Trone said the budget bill will also increase funding for NIH with a $2.6 billion increase over last year’s allocation.
“In addition, the bill will include $350 million in brand new money for Alzheimer’s research. You receive an eight-to-one return on investment with those research dollars,” Trone said.