Here’s what N.J. got from the giant spending bill Congress just passed

Published: Mar. 13, 2022

The long-awaited Gateway Tunnel moved closer to becoming a reality when Congress included $3 billion in the giant federal spending bill that can be tapped to help fund the project.

The allocations were included in the $1.5 trillion spending bill approved by Congress this week and sent to President Joe Biden for his signature. The legislation funds the federal government through Sept. 30.

The measure also includes money to help low-income New Jerseyans pay their winter heating bills, protects the aviation tech center in Egg Harbor Township, and renews grants for urban areas to help with housing and community development projects.

“Not every day we have an opportunity to secure billions of dollars in critical federal funding for programs to support hardworking families, protect communities, and ensure every child has a chance to succeed,” U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez said.

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker called it “a historic, bipartisan government funding bill that will help address the biggest challenges we face at home and abroad.”

“This legislation invests in the American people, helps reduce rising costs, and will create good-paying jobs,” Booker said.

Biden will sign the bill as soon as he receives it, White House spokesman Andrew Bates said Friday. On Friday the president signed a short-term temporary extension to keep the government open.

Here’s what’s in the bill for New Jersey, according to Menendez and Booker.

Aviation Research Center. The legislation blocked the Federal Aviation Administration from restructuring the William J. Hughes Technical Center in Egg Harbor Township. The FAA had proposed putting the center’s research, development, testing, and evaluation operations under different officials at FAA headquarters, rather than have a single administrator in Egg Harbor Township report to the agency officials in Washington.

Community Development Block Grants. The bill provides $3.3 billion for urban areas for housing and economic development. New Jersey and 56 municipalities received $92.1 million last year.

Local projects. Dozens of local projects requested by every member of the state’s congressional delegation, including funding for community groups, pedestrian walkways and college programs.

Gateway Tunnel. The legislation includes $2.2 billion for Capital Investment Grants and $874.5 million for Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor. Both sources can be used to help pay the federal share of building the new $12.3 billion train tunnel under the Hudson River.

The U.S. Transportation Department in January raised the project’s rating, making it eligible for federal funding.

“When the money’s right there on the table, there’s no more guessing about it,” said Rep. Donald Payne Jr., D-10th Dist., chair of the House railroads subcommittee. “The resources are there. It’s just a matter of lining all our ducks up, all of the plans are in, and we start digging.”

Hurricane Sandy. The federal government is demanding $73 million from more than 1,800 New Jersey residents who received more aid than they were entitled to. The bill provides them with a two-year reprieve before they have to pay the money back, in the hope that Congress in the future will write off the debt.

Low Income Heating Assistance Program: The program was funded at $3.8 billion. Last year, it provided $112.7 million to help low-income New Jersey residents pay their heating and cooling bills.

Marijuana. The U.S. Justice Department again was barred from enforcing the federal ban on cannabis in New Jersey and other states that have legalized the drug for medical use.

Police funding. The legislation includes $512 million for the Community Oriented Policing Services program, which provides federal funding for local police departments to help them hire more law-enforcement professionals. Last November, the Justice Department awarded $11.8 million to six New Jersey municipalities — Bayonne, Camden County, New Brunswick, Paterson, Plainfield and Prospect Park — enabling them to hire 72 new officers.

Scenic Rivers: The Partnership Wild and Scenic Rivers program works to keep rivers — including Great Egg Harbor, Lower Delaware, Maurice, and Musconetcong — in natural, free-flowing conditions. The legislation includes $4.9 million for the program.

Teterboro Airport. The federal government will be blocked from increasing the weight restrictions on planes using Teterboro Airport.

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published this page in News and Politics 2022-03-14 02:44:02 -0700