Capitol Corner August 2022

Advocacy and Appropriations

The U.S. House of Representatives is in recess until September 13. The Senate is in session until August 5 before breaking for the rest of the month. Centralina Regional Council has historically scheduled meetings during the August-long recess with the region’s congressional delegation while lawmakers are in the state. Given the changes that will occur in November primarily as a result of redistricting, we have decided to hold these meetings after the elections. Centralina’s members should still take advantage of opportunities to advocate for local and regional priorities when seeing Members of Congress locally. The best strategy in these encounters is to keep your message short and sweet.

The House of Representatives has already passed a number of their appropriations bills and what those members need most to hear is your thanks for their hard work. This is particularly true of U.S. Representatives Alma Adams, Ted Budd and Richard Hudson. Congresswoman Adams submitted a request for $1 million to support Centralina’s Housing Preservation Initiative. Congressman Budd took the lead on a support letter with U.S. Representatives Adams and Hudson to submit a bipartisan request for report language listing regional councils specifically eligible for grants. Both requests were included in the House bills.

Before leaving town, the House passed H.R. 8294, FY23 Consolidated Appropriation Act to fund the Departments of Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, Interior and Energy, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency, Veterans Administration and Military Construction. In this spending bill, funding for almost every appropriation important to regions, counties and cities would increase, often substantially. One exception is the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), which has remained around $3.3 billion for a number of years. The second consolidated appropriations bill that would include funding for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, Defense, Homeland Security, Commerce and Justice did not get passed and will have to be handled when Congress returns.

Meanwhile, Senate Democrats have released their spending bill proposals without input from Senate Republicans, but which indicate the level of funding the Senate is likely to agree to as it works through the appropriations process and conferences with House counterparts. It is already clear that funding for aging programs will face a significant challenge. Therefore, please let North Carolina’s U.S. Senators know how important programs funded by the Older Americans Act are in your community and request support for increased funding. Specific and personal examples are great, as are invitations to tour facilities or attend events where the impact of these programs can be illustrated. Let Centralina know if you need help with messaging.

Bottom line, if you run into a member of your congressional delegation, seize the opportunity!