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Jeff Fortenberry

09/18/2020 | News release | Distributed by Public on 09/18/2020 20:18

Fort Report: Winning for Nebraska

In late October, Cornhusker football begins anew. While I will not be there in person in my customary seat next to Ms. Louise, I am grateful that University of Nebraska President Carter, UNL Chancellor Green, and Coach Frost championed the importance of college football for the well-being of our state during this challenging moment. I will be excited to virtually watch the game we love as it returns to Memorial Stadium in a way that is compliant with player and fan safety.

As we look forward to victories on the gridiron, I'd like to apprise you of some of our wins in Congress, which of late can resemble the hard-hitting nature of Big Ten football. From COVID relief to protecting our environmental security, we work on a range of legislation and funding issues to ensure the safety and well-being of America and of Nebraska.

The following is a list of some specific items on our legislative agenda and working through the appropriations process. It's a bit long to scroll through, but you will have a flavor of the work being done.

Building Nebraska, Leading America

LEGISLATION

Great American Outdoors Act
The Great American Outdoors Act provides permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) and provides critically needed money for our national parks and other public lands. The LWCF has enjoyed more than a half-century of bipartisan support and has been used in every state and county to create outdoor recreational opportunity. Signed into law.

Chief Standing Bear Trail Bill
This bill directs the Department of the Interior to conduct a feasibility study regarding the designation of the Chief Standing Bear Trail as a National Historic Trail. This trail extends 550 miles from Niobrara, Nebraska, to Ponca City, Oklahoma, following the route taken by Chief Standing Bear and the Ponca people during federal Indian removal. Passed the House of Representatives.

Accelerating Flood Recovery
H.R. 5868: RELIEF Act
Introduced February 12, 2020
The RELIEF Act would help Natural Resources Districts swiftly make disaster-related infrastructure repairs. The goal is to reduce the time between disaster and recovery in a more efficient cost-effective manner.

New Life for the Lewis and Clark Center in Nebraska City
H.R. 3651: To facilitate the use of certain land in Nebraska for public outdoor recreational opportunities
Introduced July 9, 2019
Authorizes the Missouri River Basin Lewis and Clark Interpretive Trail and Visitor Center Foundation to use, or enter into, a lease or agreement to use for public outdoor recreation, up to 40 acres of the land in Nebraska City, Nebraska, that was conveyed for use as an historic site and an interpretive center for the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail.

Assuring Operating Resources for the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Visitor Center in Nebraska City H.R. 3560:
Introduced June 27, 2019
To provide assistance for the operation of the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail Visitor Center in Nebraska City, Nebraska

Thanking the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for 150 Years Educating Nebraskans
H.R. 225: Recognizing the 150th anniversary of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Introduced March 13, 2019
Recognizes the 150th anniversary of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln; commends the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for its status as a leading public university that excels in academics, athletics, and quality of life for students.

Keeping Veterinarians in Rural America
H.R. 1651: RE-VAC Act
Introduced March 8, 2019
This bill authorizes the Department of Agriculture to provide certain loans and grants for the establishment or expansion of animal care facilities or veterinary practices in rural areas.

National Discovery Trails National Trails System
H.R. 726: National Discovery Trails Act
Introduced January 23, 2019
Amends the National Trails System Act to include national discovery trails as part of the national trails system.

Making Insulin Affordable for the Insured and Uninsured
H.R. 7722: Matt's Act
Introduced July 22, 2020
To limit the price of insulin drugs accessible for participants, beneficiaries, and enrollees enrolled in group or individual health insurance coverage and group health plans and for uninsured individuals who have diabetes, and for other purposes.

Accelerating Access to Critical Therapies for Individuals with ALS
H.R. 7071: Accelerating Access to Critical Therapies for ALS Act
Introduced June 1, 2020
Expands access to promising treatments in development for patients with ALS and streamlines the FDA processes for drug approval.

Protecting Americans with Pre-existing Conditions
H.R. 5479: To Protect Americans with Pre-existing Conditions
Introduced December 18, 2019
Ensuring that no American shall be denied health insurance due to pre-existing conditions.

The CHILD Act: Making Prevention Work for our Children
H.R. 660: CHILD Act
Introduced January 17, 2019
To improve the health outcomes in communities through community-relevant health information and new health supporting incentives and programs funded without further appropriations.

Expanding Health Savings Accounts
H.R. 457: Health Savings Account Act
Introduced January 10, 2019
To amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to increase the maximum contribution limit for health savings accounts, and for other purposes.

Catastrophic Coverage Plans that Care for All
H.R. 456: Care for All Act of 2019
Introduced January 10, 2019
To amend the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to permit insurers to offer catastrophic coverage plans to anyone, and for other purposes.

Stop-Gap Affordable Health Coverage
H.R. 458: Affordable Limited Health Coverage Act
Introduced January 10, 2019
To prohibit implementation of the revised definition of short-term, limited-duration insurance in order to permit such insurance to provide up to 12 months of coverage.

Support of Religious and Ethnic Minorities in Iraq Returning to their Ancestral Homeland H.R. 259: Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives to support the repatriation of religious and ethnic minorities in Iraq to their ancestral homeland
Introduced March 27, 2019
This resolution expresses the sense of the House of Representatives that (1) the United States should support the safe return of displaced indigenous people of the Nineveh Plain and Sinjar to their ancestral homeland; and (2) the Iraqi Security Forces and the Kurdish Peshmerga should work to more fully integrate all communities, including religious minority communities, to counter current and future terrorist threats.

FARMING AND RURAL LIFE -- APPROPRIATIONS FOR 2021

Farm of the Future
$4,000,000 to fund an initiative to establish a testbed and demonstration site for the Farm of the Future to enhance diversification, sustainability, and net revenue.

The Ecosystem of Rural Livability: Distance Learning and Telemedicine
$4,000,000 for the USDA to expand tele-technology in rural communities to expand telework, tele-education and telemedicine. $2,000,000 will go to empower the Cooperative Extension System to make broadband more useful for rural communities.

Supporting Livable Rural Communities through Targeted Investment
$2,000,000 to create a 'place-based negotiated investment strategy demonstration program' to help revitalize and shape future town centers, grow community and county wellbeing and economic vitality, and enhance full community participation.

'Farmer-Owned Data' - the Creation of a New Data Hub
$1,000,000 for USDA to work with land grant universities in developing a policy roadmap that enables the large-scale aggregation of agricultural production data while preserving a competitive advantage for individual farmers, ranchers, producers, and processors.

Expanding the Farm Family
$6,000,000 for the Rural Microentrepreneur Assistance Program to provide loan capital and grants to non-profit organizations, community-based financial institutions, and local economic development councils to help small holder farms enter and sustain small scale farming.

Small Farm Markets (Local Agriculture Marketing Program)
$20,000,000 for all aspects of the Local Agriculture Marketing Program, which helps small and mid-sized farms expand access to their consumer products. This helps to support predictable and secure markets for local food producers.

Farm-to-School Program
$12,000,000 funding for the Farm-to-School Program to incentivize schools to buy locally produced food and build sustainable relations for local foods.

Supporting Tribes to Grow and Sell Traditional Foods
$3,000,000 funding for the Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations (FDPIR) to develop programs in conjunction with Indian Tribal Organizations to restore food ecosystems and revive traditional foods based on dietary preferences of Native American populations.

Protecting Plains Cattle
$3,000,000 for the USDA's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service for Antimicrobial Resistance Research for Livestock. Establishes a public-private partnership focused on combating the global threat of antimicrobial resistance across humans, animals, and the environment to explore the development of an antimicrobial resistance dashboard tool for livestock management, research, risk, and stewardship.

Fertilizer Innovation: Providing Better Value for Farmers with Reduced Nitrogen and Phosphorus Runoff
$1,000,000 to advance better fertilizer solutions to reduce need and runoff. Saving the farmer work and money.

Women, Infant, and Children's Nutrition Program
Helping states with new incentives to improve breast feeding rates.

Training and Support for 4-H and Youth Agriculture Programs at Land-grant Universities
Supporting youth agricultural entrepreneurship across rural America and leading the world in agricultural education.

Increasing Crop Yields and Reducing Water and Chemical Needs
$1,000,000 to expand research at leading public and land-grant universities with unique facilities and expertise for plant science innovation, root and rhizome innovation, and food for health. Genes and traits are the foundation of healthier more productive crops and food security.

Supporting Soil Health and Carbon Capture Through Cover Crop Management
$1,000,000 to the USDA to bolster ongoing efforts of the Soil Health Initiative.

Blue Ribbon Commission on the Future of Land Grant Institutions
$300,000 for a U.S. Department of Agriculture Blue-Ribbon Panel to convene agriculture universities to re-envision the future of farming and agriculture education.

Making Animal Waste Pay Farmers: Recovering Value from Animal Waste
$1,000,000 to analyze and implement all cost savings that could potentially come from efficiently processing and managing, and reuse of animal waste.

HEALTH CARE -- APPROPRIATIONS FOR 2021

Expanding Access to Promising ALS Treatments
Directed the Department of Health and Human Services to expand access to ALS Treatments in the National Institutes of Health.

Preventing the Next Ebola Outbreak
$11,000,000 for the National Ebola Training and Education Center and the Regional Ebola and Other Special Pathogen Treatment Centers in the Department of Health and Human Services.

Modernizing Public Health Data and IT Systems
$50,000,000 for Public Health Data/IT Systems Modernization in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Keeping the 12 Clans Hospital Open as Nebraska Tribes Take Over Operation
$58,000,000 across all tribal hospitals with accreditation emergencies. The Committee continues to ask for new strategies from the Indian Health Service to improve how Indian Health Service programs, including those operated by tribes under the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act, can be supported.

ENVIRONMENTAL SECURITY -- APPROPRIATIONS FOR 2021

Weather and Farming: Monitoring and Addressing Drought for America
$3,800,000 for the purpose of building resilience to drought through monitoring and planning at the National Drought Mitigation Center.

Restoration of Forests and Grasslands: Cooperative Landscape Conservation: U.S. Forest Service
$49,341,000 to support the Landscape Scale Restoration Program, a Forest Service State and Private Forestry program promoting collaborative, science-based restoration of priority forest landscapes. sThe program helps ensure that our nation's forests provide important benefits to the American public, including timber and fuel wood, wildlife habitat, and watershed protection.

Drone-Delivered Tree Planting Initiative
Requesting the U.S. Forest Service to implement a two-phase planting project using traditional planting methods and drone-delivered seed vessels for reforestation efforts, including replanting post-fire landscapes.

Protecting America's Forests: U.S. Forest Service Law Enforcement Support
$83,942,000 to serve people, protect natural resources and property within the authority and jurisdiction of the Forest Service.

Support of the Trillion Trees initiative
Assures that all American international investments include requirements for reforestation and grasslands restoration.

International Forestry Development: U.S. Forest Service
$18,000,000 to promote sustainable forest management and biodiversity conservation internationally. The U.S. Forest Service partners overseas to address the world's most critical forestry issues and concerns sharing knowledge of wildlife biologists, forest economists, hydrologists, disaster and fire management specialists.

Halting Illegal Timber Harvesting Internationally
The Secretary of State will monitor illegal timber harvesting in partner countries and act to halt these activities.

Wind for Schools: Supporting Alternative Energy Sources for Schools
$1,000,000 to raise awareness in rural communities about the benefits of wind energy. Provides hands-on educational experiences by installing small wind turbines at various rural schools across the country. This allows teachers and students to physically engage with energy-related curricula.

Supporting Research on Carbon Credits from Reforestation and Grassland Restoration
Calls on the Office of the Secretary of Energy to advance greater research into forests and grasslands and carbon storage.

COMMUNITY AND HEALTH SECURITY -- APPROPRIATIONS FOR 2021

Combating Global Food Insecurity:
$55,000,000 to fund and support Feed the Future Food Innovation Labs in partnership with agriculture universities to share knowledge around the globe.

Making Sure our Drugs Made Abroad Are Safe
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will add China to a pilot program for unannounced foreign inspections of drug manufacturing facilities, which previously only focused on India. This helps improve the agency's inspections of Chinese-made pharmaceutical products. The FDA will also compile a plan for ways to refuse drugs at the border when it is not granted sufficient access to information regarding overseas manufacturing facilities.

Supporting Suicide Prevention efforts in the Department of Veteran's Affairs
$5,000,000 million to expand public-private partnerships for suicide prevention.

Global Cervical Cancer Prevention:
$15,000,000 for the United States Agency for International Development to care for women at risk of cancer where the rates are the highest.

CONSERVATION -- APPROPRIATIONS FOR 2021

Automobile Energy Efficiency: Resources for Research and Development Towards the Development of Energy Efficient Natural Gas Vehicles.
$10,000,000 for natural gas engine R&D for medium, heavy-duty, and off-road vehicles.

Safely Disposing of Plutonium: Creating Alternative Solutions to Protect Americans from Spent Fuels
In concert with the National Nuclear Security Administration's efforts to implement a safe, secure, and cost-effective approach to disposing of U.S. surplus pit and non-pit plutonium.

International Conservation: Global Environment Facility
$139,575,000 to sustain America's contribution among other resources from countries around the globe to support conservation internationally.
Renewable and Efficient Energy
$2,848,000,000 for renewable energy projects across the nation.

Reliable Energy Storage
$56,500,000 for the construction of a Grid Storage Launchpad that will enable the research and development of new, state-of-the-art battery storage.

Carbon Storage, Utilization, and Direct Air Capture
$750,000,000 to accelerate carbon capture and utilization commercialization.

Cutting-Edge R&D for Innovative Energy Solutions
$435 million for cutting-edge research and development in innovative sustainable energy technologies.

Monitoring and Addressing Drought for America
The National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska is recognized across Congress as an important asset to guide farmers grappling with weather related challenges. The Center is provided $3,000,000 above baseline to expand its work including meteorology, economics, and technologies for drought mitigation.

Drought Mitigation for the Globe:
$1,300,000 for the Air Force Weather Bureau to partner with the National Drought Mitigation Center to develop a drought early warning system for the Department of Defense to detect locations at risk of food insecurity and associated conflict around the world.

Protecting the Environment in Developing Countries: Reducing Lead Exposure
$7,000,000 to address toxic chemical pollution in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, including through lead acid battery recycling programs. Polluted air, water and soil are a significant cause of death globally.

Protecting the Largest Concentration of Elephants in the World: The Defending Economic Livelihoods and Threatened Animals (DELTA) Act
In 2018 my legislation to protect the elephant population in Southern Africa, called the DELTA Act passed. Providing resources for demining, conservation, and national park creation from Angola, Namibia, and Botswana will allow elephants to migrate through their traditional landscape. This also supports combating poaching and wildlife trafficking and strengthens the protection of the three-country watershed.

Protecting Endangered Species Globally
$19,000,000 to support conservation efforts benefiting certain species across a range of countries to include African and Asian elephants; rhinoceroses; tigers; great apes (gorillas, chimpanzees, bonobos, orangutans, and the various species of gibbons); tortoises; freshwater turtles; and marine turtles. It supports species through habitat conservation, law enforcement, and technical assistance.

Protecting Endangered Wildlife in Africa: Community Conservation programs in Kenya
Support of conservation programs in East Africa, with particular emphasis on the unique needs of northern Kenya and the Maasai Mara.

Properly Preserving our Historic Battlefields
The Shenandoah Valley Battlefields National Historic District has proven to be a unique public-private partnership that models protection and preservation of this nationally significant site. The Committee encourages the Service to work with the District to ensure that authorities provided under the District's enabling legislation are fully utilized to maximize the effectiveness of this partnership. Additionally, the Service is encouraged to consider reclassifying it as a National Battlefield Site.

NATIONAL SECURITY -- APPROPRIATIONS FOR 2021

Enabling Faster Local Levee Repair
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will expand collaboration with state and local partners that make repairs to federally constructed, locally maintained systems.

Modernizing the Nuclear Arsenal
Ensuring our adversaries remain deterred well into the 21st century by modernizing the bomber, submarine, and missile legs of our nuclear triad with the new B-21 Raider, Columbia-class ballistic missile submarine, and the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Preventing Nuclear Terrorism
Accelerating the National Nuclear Security Administration's efforts to secure and replace dangerous radiological materials in the United States.

Preventing Nuclear Proliferation
Providing the resources for the National Nuclear Security Administration's Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation efforts around the world to prevent malign actors from acquiring nuclear weapons or material.

Joint Civilian-Military Medical Surge Facility
Accelerating a pilot program to create a joint civilian-military medical surge facility to provide for high casualty events, from a foreign conflict to a global pandemic.

Sustainable Energy Initiatives in the Department of Defense
Pushing the Defense Department to incorporate sustainable energy technologies and practices in the construction of new facilities and upgrades to existing facilities.

Expanding Tree-Planting on Military Bases
The Department of Defense shall include landscaping and the planting of trees in its designs for new or replacement facilities.

Innovation in Reducing Suicide Among Veterans
Calling on the Department of Veteran's Affairs to investigate using social media platforms to identify and engage veterans at risk of suicide and work with academic partners to develop and test tools for identifying and engaging these veterans.

Digital Health Platform for Veterans
$5,000,000 for a pilot program that integrates commercially available, proven automated technology into the VA electronic health records systems.

Reducing Opioid Overdoses in Veterans: A Naloxone Pilot Program for Veterans
Innovation for new ways to prevent overdoses.

First ever, Women Veterans Support Network: Creation of a National Women Veterans Support Network
$1,000,000 to support women-building programs for women veterans who have suffered injury or sexual abuse while enlisted. This is a big new idea for women veterans.

Technological Solutions for Injured Veterans
$2,000,000 to pilot for injured soldiers to be part of the health and biomedical design team to help design solutions that best suit them.

STATE AND FOREIGN OPERATIONS -- APPROPRIATIONS FOR 2021

Hope for Yazidis, Christians and minority Muslims in Northern Iraq: Protecting the Diverse Community of Northern Iraq from further Genocide
Integrating Diverse Minorities of Northern Iraq in the Iraqi Army
Calls on the United States Secretary of State to work Government of Iraq to ensure security forces reflect the ethno-sectarian makeup of the areas in which they operate by integrating local populations into such forces.

Mosul Airport Improvement
Encouragement of the State Department to encourage the relevant Iraqi authorities to explore options for improving the transportation infrastructure in northern Iraq, including examining the feasibility of re-opening the international airport in Mosul, Iraq.

Fulfilling the Promise made to Translators and Others Who Helped America
The Department of State must work with the relevant Federal agency partners to expedite the processing of the backlog of Iraqi Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) applications as well as those of their family members.

A New Plan for Haiti: Changing the course of the Poorest Country in Our Hemisphere
Creation of strategy to address governance, economic opportunities, rule of law including border control, and social services in Haiti to improve social cohesion and make United States assistance more effective.

Removing Mines in War-torn Countries
Conventional Weapons Destruction. The recommendation also includes additional funds above the prior year level for increased demining activities in Angola, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe, Vietnam and other countries with unmet humanitarian demining requirements.

A New Vision for Conservation and Human Flourishing in Guatemala and Honduras
The Secretary of State is to work with Northern Triangle governments to strengthen the capacity and geographic reach of local judicial, prosecutorial, investigatory, wildlife law enforcement and park rangers in border forest communities and protected areas as a means of protecting the rights of indigenous and forest communities and to halting corruption within governments.

Supporting Vulnerable Orphans in Egypt:
Provide resources through USAID to assist orphans and vulnerable children in Egypt, including children from religiously diverse populations.

Most Americans want Congress to work hard, think smart, and get things done. While the stop-start, meandering, twisting, halting process of government can be frustrating, these last few months of legislative and appropriations work have been important for America and Nebraska.

Go Big Red.