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Ranking Member Stabenow Applauds Rural Investments, Forestry Package in Omnibus

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Ranking Member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, today announced the Fiscal Year 2018 budget bill will include new investments for rural communities and a long-awaited forestry package that fixes the U.S. Forest Service budget.

“This bipartisan budget bill includes new investments in our small towns and rural communities in Michigan and across the country,” said Senator Stabenow. “These investments will expand high-speed internet access for rural households, hospitals, schools and small businesses, and rebuild rural water infrastructure so our small towns have access to clean drinking water. 

“Additionally, this bill finally fixes the U.S. Forest Service’s broken budget and provides new tools to restore our national forests and protect communities from devastating wildfires.”

Senator Stabenow pushed to include major investments for rural communities in the budget deal. In a letter to Senate Appropriations leaders last month, Senator Stabenow urged new investments in high-speed internet and rural infrastructure. The Fiscal Year 2018 budget bill includes over $1 billion for rural water infrastructure and over $600 million for rural broadband, which represents the largest investment in broadband expansion since the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

Senator Stabenow has also led the effort for changes to the U.S. Forest Service’s budget. The Fiscal Year 2018 budget bill includes $1.9 billion for wildfire suppression at the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Department of Interior. Additionally, starting in 2020, those agencies will have access to over $2 billion in federal disaster spending to address the most severe wildfires.