Banning, Beaumont Get $2.75M In Federal Funds For Local Projects (2024)

PASS AREA, CA — Ten million dollars in federal funding is coming to help pay for a slew of Pass Area and Coachella Valley projects, including some in Banning and Beaumont. The "Community Project Funding" is part of the $1.5 trillion 2022 Consolidated Appropriations Act that President Joe Biden signed on Tuesday.

Congressional Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-Coachella Valley) secured the following funding for projects in his 36th District that includes Banning, Beaumont:

— $1.25 million for the city of Banning to fund a wastewater treatment facility equalization basin at the current facility. The project is designed to protect the environment from overflows caused by large surges in demand primarily driven by extreme weather. Banning relies on water pumped from underground aquifers, so the project will protect the groundwater from being contaminated during overflows, according to Ruiz's request to the House Appropriations Committee.

— $1.5 million for the city of Beaumont to fund the expansion and widening of Pennsylvania Avenue between 1st Street and 6th Street from its current two lanes to four lanes. The widening "will provide increased mobility and access to residents of Beaumont and Banning, and employees of businesses in the area," according to Ruiz's request.

“Expansion and widening of Pennsylvania Avenue is a critical project for Beaumont and the Pass Area. These improvements will enhance access and help alleviate traffic congestion along I-10,” said Todd Parton, Beaumont City Manager. “This would not be possible without the tireless efforts of Congressman Ruiz. With his assistance, one of the area’s most vital retail centers will continue to flourish while much-needed traffic relief is provided to area residents. Additionally, Beaumont will be able to reallocate our local dollars to other critical projects that benefit our community as well as the region.”

Other funding that Ruiz secured for the 36th District includes:

— $1 million for the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians to fund the building of public facilities required to facilitate construction of the 10-acre Soboba Crossroads shopping center in San Jacinto. The project will bring an estimated 100 permanent jobs, enhanced local services, increased tax revenues, support for public services, and new opportunities for business growth, according to Ruiz's request.

— $2.7 million for Coachella Valley Water District to fund the Avenue 66 Clean Water Project. "This will aid the construction of a new water transmission line that will bring water access to a disadvantaged area that currently relies on unreliable independent water systems, mostly wells that need to remove naturally occurring arsenic from the water," according to Ruiz.

— $500,000 for the city of Blythe to fund the replacement of an existing 500,000-gallon water reservoir servicing the Palo Verde College and surrounding neighborhood with a new, bolted steel water tank of similar capacity. This water tank is the sole source of fire protection and safe, clean, and reliable drinking water for the college and nearby neighborhoods, according to Ruiz.

— $500,000 for the Coachella Valley Housing Coalition to fund the rehabilitation and renovation of its Development and Service Center. The 17,000-square-foot facility serves low-income residents of the Coachella Valley by providing services including credit counseling; homebuyer education; self-help homeownership opportunities; after-school programs and scholarships for low-income youth; community gardens; and English and citizenship classes.

— $1 million for the Clinicas de Salud del Pueblo to fund the expansion of the Blythe Health Center from 5,766 square feet to 13,768 square feet, which will allow the center to accept roughly 6,000 additional patients per year, including the addition of behavioral health and dental services.

— $1 million for Loma Linda University Health Center to fund the construction and furnishing of a new 8,000-square-foot federally qualified health center in the Coachella Valley. "According to the Health Resources and Services Administration, over 96,000 low-income individuals did not receive care through an FQHC in the Coachella Valley, including the growing number of individuals experiencing homelessness through the ongoing pandemic. The project will provide convenient access to health care for populations throughout CA-36 regardless of the individual’s ability to pay," according to Ruiz's request.

— $350,000 for Palo Verde Hospital District to assist with the acquisition of a fully integrated mobile health unit with telehealth services. This mobile clinic will serve patients within 25 miles of Blythe. The region this project serves has high poverty rates and is a health provider shortage area for primary care, dental, and mental health care.

— $200,000 for the Salton Sea Authority to fund the first phase of the investigation into the “Imperial Streams, Salton Sea, and Tributaries” Army Corps project that Ruiz secured in the Water Resources Development Act of 2020. The project "will contribute to the habitat and ecosystem restoration at the Salton Sea, which is a growing public health crisis in Southern California," according to Ruiz.

The 2022 Appropriations Bill

Both parties scored political victories in the spending bill. Democrats were able to secure an agreement to increase domestic spending by 6.7 percent to $730 billion, while Republicans prevailed in a 5.6 percent increase in defense-related spending at $782 billion.

The sprawling, 2,741-page omnibus bill — the first major federal spending package of Biden’s administration — also funds the government through Sept. 30, the end of the federal fiscal year, and averted a partial government shutdown that would’ve occurred at midnight Friday.

Here are five things to know about what the bill does and doesn’t do:

1. America’s Roads Finally Getting Fixed

Biden’s signature on the law unlocks billions of dollars to fully fund the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law, meaning “America can finally get to work on replacing aging highways, roads, bridges, water and wastewater systems,” American Public Works Association CEO Scott Grayson said in a statement to Route Fifty, a news outlet covering trends in state and local governments across the country.

Earlier this year, the Biden administration released $5.5 billion this fiscal year and $27 billion over five years to fix about 15,000 of the nation’s worst bridges. About 45,000 bridges are rated as structurally deficient. Other funds going to the state transportation departments required the approval of Congress, which the omnibus spending bill accomplishes.

2. The "Boyfriend Loophole" Still Open

The bill renewed the landmark 1990s-era Violence Against Women Act that lapsed during the Trump administration amid bipartisan bickering. And it almost didn't happen this time because of opposition from the powerful National Rifle Association and some Republicans in Congress over wording that would have closed the “boyfriend loophole.”

Democrats backed down from the provision, allowing the federal law to stand as is: People convicted of domestic abuse may have to surrender their guns under current federal law if they are currently or formerly married to the victim, live together, have a child together, or are the parent or guardian. Stalkers and current and former dating partners are excluded.

U.S. Rep. Jackson Lee, a Democrat from Houston, is among lawmakers who aren’t giving up on closing the loophole, The Associated Press reported.

The reauthorized version of the law, which Biden worked on during his days in the Senate, strengthens rape prevention and education efforts as well as training for those in law enforcement and the judicial system.

“One of the ways to help women is to get the gun out of the hands of the abuser,” Lee said. “And this is not an NRA question. This is a human question. This is saving women and children. This is stepping into their shoes.”

3. No COVID-19 Money

The White House wanted $22.5 billion in supplemental funding to bolster the fight against COVID-19, while the House approved more than $15 billion. But Democrats dropped the coronavirus aid package amid disputes that threatened Ukraine aid and other domestic priorities. Among the points of contention for House Democrats was language in the bill that would have pulled the money from coronavirus aid previously allocated to states.

Eliminating coronavirus spending leaves the Biden administration’s new COVID-19 road map in some doubt. It underscores the deep partisan divides over the pandemic and the government’s response to it, but also shows the pandemic is no longer the government’s top priority.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that although it was a “heartbreaking” concession, “we must continue to fight for urgently needed” COVID-19 assistance.

4. The Politics Of Abortion

Republicans reinstalled the Hyde Amendment, a so-called “legacy rider” that prohibits the use of federal funds for abortions, in appropriations legislation. The amendment has been included in annual appropriations bills since it was introduced in the 1970s by Rep. Henry Hyde, an Illinois Republican.

This is another policy battle Democrats pledged to save for later so the omnibus bill, and the urgent Ukraine aid, could move forward. But it’s also a concession that permanently eliminating the decades-long ban on federal abortion spending is all but dead in a 50-50 Senate.

Democrats were also unsuccessful in keeping out the Weldon amendment, included in every federal Health and Human Services bill since 2005, which bars entities that don’t want to provide abortion care from being denied federal money.

It’s also a defeat for Biden, who said in the primary he “could no longer continue to abide by” the Hyde amendment restrictions.

5. D.C. And The Marijuana Conundrum

Voters in the District of Columbia approved recreational marijuana cultivation and use among adults in 2014. Because the District of Columbia can’t control its own budget, Congress has been able to block the local D.C. government from taxing and regulating cannabis through the Harris amendment.

The rider from Congressman Andy Harris, a Maryland Republican, has set up a bizarre situation in which D.C. residents can legally use pot, but they can’t sell it, enabling a black market and depriving the city of the lucrative tax revenue gains experienced by other states with legal marijuana.

The rider creates “a public safety problem,” D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, a Democrat, told The Washington Post. “I can’t be strong enough about this.”

“We have a burgeoning illegal, unregulated market that’s surrounded with criminal activity,” Mendelson said. “The market’s not only illegal, but there is criminal activity such as robberies around these black-market pop-ups, and we can’t do anything about it because we cannot regulate the sale or distribution of marijuana because of this rider.”

This article originally appeared on the Banning-Beaumont Patch

Banning, Beaumont Get $2.75M In Federal Funds For Local Projects (2024)

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