Entries in Funding (9)


Senate Passes Bill to Modernize FAA, Extend Its Funding

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- By a vote of 75-20, the Senate Monday night passed the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization conference report.

Most notably, the FAA Modernization Reform Act will extend the funding for the FAA through 2015, investing more than $20 billion in airports and runways in the country and on modern air traffic control equipment.

This marks the first long-term reauthorization of the FAA in almost five years -- the agency has worked under 23 short-term extensions since 2007.  The past extensions have just been in two- or three-month increments, time after time.

“It will finally give the FAA the ability it needs to be a world-class travel system,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Monday. “The aviation jobs bill will also create thousands of jobs, about 300,000," Reid said without elaborating. "It will protect airline workers and approve safety for travelers. This legislation will create badly-needed jobs and will give the FAA the ability to finally upgrade the country's air traffic control system.”

The House of Representatives passed the bill last Friday, so it now heads to President Obama’s desk for his signature.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


9/11 Museum Funding Held Up by One Senator

David Handschuh-Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- There’s a controversy brewing in the halls of Congress, pitting budget hawk Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., against two New York senators and touching on a politically and emotionally sensitive subject.

Coburn is singlehandedly holding up federal funding for the 9/11 memorial museum at Ground Zero.

Legislation before the Senate calls for $20 million a year, $200 million total over the next 10 years in federal funding for the National September 11 Memorial and Museum at Ground Zero.

Coburn is calling for equivalent cuts to be made to pay for the added government spending on the project.

In a letter sent to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Wednesday, Coburn says that while the “merits” of the museum project are not in question, he has “concerns” about the legislation.

“This legislation authorizes at least $200 million over the next 10 years for the effort, but does not include any provisions to pay for these potential costs, adding to our more than $15 trillion debt,” Coburn wrote.

Coburn’s office said the dispute could be solved “in minutes” if the sponsors would just look for areas of waste and duplication in the general government already identified by the Government Accountability Office.

“Coburn believes we can best honor the heroism and sacrifices of 9/11 by making hard choices and reducing spending on less-vital priorities, rather than borrowing money,” Coburn spokesman John Hart told ABC News Wednesday. “Finding $20 million in savings is the least we can do to demonstrate that Congress also understands the value of service and sacrifice.”

Even better would be if members of Congress could encourage the effort to fund the project using local sources, or -- as is the case with the Oklahoma City bombing memorial -- private sources, Coburn’s office said.  

His office noted that the 9/11 museum is “already receiving generous private support from hundreds of patriotic Americans, businesses and corporations across the country,” so it shouldn’t need the extra federal money.

Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, two of the co-sponsors of the bill, on Wednesday responded in anger to the lone senator standing in the way of government funding for the museum.

Schumer said the project needs to be funded with some federal money in substance and for the sake of symbolism.

"This is sacred ground not only to New Yorkers but to Americans, and to have the memorial, the museum, in as good a way as possible not limited by lack of funding makes eminent sense,” Schumer told reporters Wednesday. “Clearly, if you talk to [New York] Mayor [Michael] Bloomberg and others, and there’s been very generous support from the private sector, there is not enough money to keep, to have the memorial function in the way it should.”

Schumer and Gillibrand plan to sit down with Coburn “soon” to discuss his concerns.

“We hope that Sen. Coburn will relent,” Schumer said.

Coburn, in his letter Wednesday, demanded a “full accounting of previously awarded federal funding” for the museum, as well as a “detailed breakdown of the project with itemized cost estimates.”

“It is, after all, our obligation as stewards of the treasury to scrutinize for taxpayers how every penny we spend is put to use,” Coburn wrote, “even for the best intentioned projects.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Disaster Relief Funding: Parties Spar Over FEMA Appropriations

Damage from flooding caused by Tropical Storm Irene is seen near the Irving gas station at the junction of Route 4 and Route 100 in Killington, Vermont on Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2011. Scott Eisen/Bloomberg via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Despite preliminary damage estimates for Hurricane Irene ranking in the billions of dollars, additional funding for the Federal Emergency Management Agency could get caught up in the gridlock of partisan budget battles.

A Democratic leadership aide said Wednesday that it is “highly unlikely” Congress will reach an agreement on supplemental appropriations for the agency in the Homeland Security Appropriations Bill, the “natural place for additional disaster relief funding.”

Instead, the aide said that any disaster relief funding will likely be attached to the stopgap funding bill that must pass through Congress by the end of September. Unless, that is, by some miracle both houses of Congress pass all of their appropriations bills -- a legislative long shot.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor said earlier this week that any additional disaster funding would have to be offset by spending cuts -- a position that could be a tough sell for congressional Democrats.

“Are House Republicans willing to shut down the federal government in order to satisfy their demands for offsets on disaster relief for the victims of Hurricane Irene?” asked the aide, who did not want to be identified.

FEMA announced last weekend that the agency had less than $800 million in its bank account, forcing it to halt long-term projects such as rebuilding roads and schools in order to focus on the immediate needs of Hurricane Irene victims.

“We are going to find the money. We’re just going to need to make sure that there are savings elsewhere to continue to do so,” Cantor said on Fox News Monday.

Cantor’s comments were met with harsh criticism from the White House and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, who noted that emergency supplemental appropriations were “historically the way disaster relief funding has been handled.”

In June the Republican-controlled House passed a bill that would give FEMA an additional $1 billion for this fiscal year and increase the agency’s funds by $700 million for fiscal year 2012. The bill reduces grants for clean-energy vehicles in order to make up for the additional disaster relief funds -- a move the Democrat-controlled Senate does not support and has not passed.

With Republicans’ renewed insistence on balancing any additional FEMA funding with equal spending cuts, there is little chance Congress will reach a compromise and appropriate additional funds before the fiscal year ends Sept. 30.

Any supplemental disaster funds will then have to be tucked into the next continuing budget resolution, which Congress will have to pass before Oct. 1 to avoid a government shutdown.

Despite this lack of congressional appropriations, federal officials insist FEMA will meet the needs of all disaster victims, including those from Hurricane Irene, those from floods earlier this year along the Mississippi River Valley, and those from tornadoes in Missouri and Alabama.

“We’re going to make sure that we respond as quickly and effectively as possible,” President Obama said Monday. “And we’re going to keep it up as long as hurricane season continues.”

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Obama Admin. Rejects Indiana’s Ban on Planned Parenthood Funding

Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Obama administration Wednesday rejected Indiana’s proposal to ban the use of Medicaid funds at Planned Parenthood clinics.

In a letter to Patricia Casanova, director of the state Office of Medicaid Policy and Planning, Dr. Donald Berwick, the administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, said that Indiana’s ban violated a provision of the law allowing that “beneficiaries may obtain covered services from any qualified provider that undertakes to provide such services.”

In May, GOP Gov. Mitch Daniels signed a law banning Medicaid funds from going to "any entity that performs abortions or maintains or operates a facility where abortions are performed."

Daniels said that “any organization affected by this provision can resume receiving taxpayer dollars immediately by ceasing or separating its operations that perform abortions.”

Those who oppose abortion have long argued that even if federal funds don’t directly go to fund abortions in groups such as Planned Parenthood, allowing such clinics to receive funding for other services frees up private funds to be spent on abortions.

Planned Parenthood of Indiana says that 96 percent of its work is preventative, with only four percent abortion-related. Four out of the 28 Planned Parenthood clinics in Indiana perform abortions. A spokesperson for Planned Parenthood of Indiana has said that 20 percent of its annual budget comes from federal funding.

Noting that “federal Medicaid funding of abortion services is not permitted under federal law except in extraordinary circumstances (such as in cases of rape or incest),” Berwick wrote that “Medicaid programs may not exclude qualified health care providers from providing services that are funded under the program because of a provider’s scope of practice.”

Between January 2010 and May 31, 2011, CMS had formally denied 19 state plan amendments, though not for the same reason. An Obama administration official says that CMS did not impose penalties in any of these matters, and the state ended up complying with the CMS ruling.

Officials from the Indiana Office of Medicaid Policy and Planning could not be reached for comment.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Judge Denies Request to Stop Planned Parenthood Defunding

Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images(INDIANAPOLIS) -- A federal judge Wednesday denied Planned Parenthood's request to block the state of Indiana from defunding the organization.  Indiana would be the first U.S. state to cut all funding to Planned Parenthood.

Federal District Court Judge Tonya Walton Pratt denied the request, stating that Planned Parenthood could not support its claim that it would suffer devastating harm if the law took effect immediately.

Planned Parenthood filed a restraining order in Indianapolis Tuesday, just hours after Governor Mitch Daniels signed a new law banning abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy and cutting $3 million in state funds used for birth control and screening tests for STDs.

A hearing is set for June 6 to rule on a temporary injunction.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Cost to Fund Casey Anthony Jury Might Jeopardize Trial, County Clerk Says

Comstock/Thinkstock(ORANGE COUNTRY, Fla.) -- The high-profile trial of accused child-killer Casey Anthony is at risk of being suspended or even cancelled, because of the hundreds of thousands of dollars it will cost to sequester a jury for the Florida case, according to a county official.

Lydia Gardner, the Orange County clerk of circuit courts, said in a statement that without more funding, the court might not be able to afford Anthony's May trial.

Due to media attention, a jury will be brought in from an undetermined location outside Orange County and will therefore have to be accommodated. The estimated cost to support 20 jurors for eight weeks is more than $360,000, Ninth Judicial Circuit Court spokeswoman Karen Levey said.

"Judge [Belvin] Perry was trying to get a handle on the cost associated with the jury sequestering and the price includes the estimated cost of lodging, meals and transportation for the jury," Levey said.

But Gardner said that unless the state senate allocates more money to the court, the trial, which she calls one of the states "most notorious murder cases," will be in jeopardy.

"What is in question is whether or not this trial will be suspended or canceled if the clerk is not able to meet her statutory responsibility to pay the jurors for their service," Gardner said. "As you are aware, this trial in particular has garnered not only local attention, but also national and even worldwide attention."

"The Florida Senate has proposed a five percent cut to our budget in the [fiscal-year] fourth quarter, just as the Anthony trial is scheduled to begin," she said. "If the Senate proposal goes through, the trial is in jeopardy of being canceled or suspended."

But the judge set to preside over the case, Chief Judge Belvin Perry Jr., has said that no such suspension or cancellation will occur.

"Judge Perry is going forward with the case on May 9," Levey said. "He has no plans to cancel or discontinue this case. This is going forward."

Anthony, 24, is accused of killing her daughter, Caylee Anthony, who was 2 years-old when she disappeared in June 2008. Anthony has pleaded not guilty.

Caylee's disappearance wasn't reported until July 2008, nearly a month after she disappeared. Her remains were found in December, less than a mile from the home she and her mother shared with the toddler's grandparents. Her death was ruled a homicide of undetermined means.

State prosecutors have said that they will seek the death penalty for Anthony if she is convicted.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Nonprofit Gives Scholarships to White Males Only

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(SAN MARCOS, Texas) -- When Colby Bohannan was looking for college financial aid nine years ago, he concluded that he was at a disadvantage because of his race.

"In the landscape of the scholarship foundations in this country, there is just one demographic that does not have a single dedicated scholarship," he told ABC News. And that demographic, said Bohannan, is white males.

Bohannan said he found a plethora of scholarship options for minorities and women when he was searching in 2002, but not one dedicated solely to white males.

So after taking a hiatus from school during which he served in the Iraq War, Bohannan launched the Former Majority Association for Equality, a nonprofit organization that takes its name from the fact that according to U.S. census numbers, non-Hispanic whites make up only 45 percent of the Texas state population.

"Trying to afford an education is not easy," said Bohannan, 28. "Just because you're white and male doesn't mean you have a bunch of money lying around to pay for books and rent."

The Association, which Bohannan started with his cousin Brandon Bohannan and William Lake, the group's treasurer, plans to offer five $500 scholarships to eligible students -- white males -- from anywhere in the country.

Unsurprisingly, not everyone agrees that white males need a dedicated scholarship.

"Our largest state-funded financial aid program is the Texas Grants program, and in 2009 we served about 63,000 students," said Dominic Chavez at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, which promotes greater access to higher education in the state.

"I am not sure I accept the premise that these programs are targeting students of color," Chavez said. "These programs are targeted to poor Texans. There is no consideration of race [or] ethnicity for the allocation of these awards."

The board's goal is to increase enrollment of every single ethnic group in higher education by 5.7 percent -- that includes whites as well as blacks, Asians and Hispanics, said Chavez, who pointed out that college enrollment rates are down among males across all ethnic groups.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


HUD Halts Millions in Funding to Philadelphia Housing Authority

Photo Courtesy - U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development(PHILADELPHIA) -- Federal housing officials have suspended millions of dollars in funding to the Philadelphia Housing Authority as federal investigators continue to examine a wide array of allegations of questionable payments made by the nation's fourth-largest public housing agency.

In a letter to the Philadelphia Housing Authority, the Department of Housing and Urban Development notified PHA it would withdraw money for contracts related to "labor and employment legal services" until the agency can provide additional information documenting the expenses.

The suspension, first reported by the Philadelphia Inquirer, comes after a joint investigation by ABC News and the Center for Public Integrity found the Department of Housing and Urban Development has struggled to combat waste, mismanagement and corruption mismanagement in the more than 3,000 public housing agencies nationwide it funds, including the Philadelphia Housing Authority.

Under the leadership of former executive director Carl Greene, the Philadelphia Housing Authority spent lavishly on gifts for managers and a party with belly dancers, and secretly spent more than $500,000 in housing authority funds to settle sexual harassment claims against Greene.  Greene was forced out of his $306,000 per year job in September after the housing authority's board of commissioners concluded that he was a "true serial sexual harasser" whose sought to conceal the payments from the board.

The housing authority, which receives most of its annual budget of $345 million from the federal government, has attracted the scrutiny of Congressional and federal investigators as a scandal involving allegations of waste, misconduct, and questionable spending unfolded this fall.  Under Greene, the Philadelphia Housing Authority had spend more than $33 million in fees to politically-connected law firms over a three year period, according to the Inquirer.

The ABC News joint investigation found that the problems extend beyond Philadelphia, from an executive in New Orleans convicted of embezzling more than $900,000 in housing money around the time he bought a lavish Florida mansion to federal funds wrongly being spent to provide housing for sex offenders or to pay vouchers to residents long since dead.

"We're failing these tenants, we're failing the taxpayers," said Kenneth Donohue, who recently retired as the HUD inspector general in charge of rooting out waste, fraud and abuse from the federal housing program. 

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


State Debt Worse than Thought?

Photo Courtesy - Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Hidden state debts could cause an unexpected crisis as the economy continues to recover, The New York Times reported Sunday. California, Illinois, New Jersey, and New York, are some of the states accused in the article of borrowing and using financial tricks to pay their debts, adding new debts that are often off the books.

States presently have $2.8 trillion dollars worth of debt, but that number could be drastically worse with extraneous debts. Adding to fears of a worsening debt crisis, state credit ratings have gone up because investors believe the federal government backs up states financially. The concern now is how long these problems can last.

Copyright 2010 ABC News Radio

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