Press Releases

Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett Statement on the House passage of the FY19 Interior-Environment Appropriations Bill

“I am pleased that my amendment that added to the funding of the Department of Interior's Office of Insular Affairs was accepted,” stated Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett

Washington, July 20, 2018
Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Stacey E. Plaskett (USVI), Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on the Interior, Energy, and Environment released the following statement after the House approved the FY2019 Interior-Environment appropriations bill, which included her important amendment to raise funding for the Office of Insular Affairs:

“This week the House passed the Interior Appropriations bill, which contains a total of $35.3 billion, funding programs that protect and make the best use of domestic natural resources, that provide investments in infrastructure such as improvements for drinking water systems, and that help protect against and fight devastating wildfires. Democrats were able to secure a few meaningful victories on the floor when we defeated amendments that attacked the Antiquities Act, grants for Environmental Justice, and the Land and Water Conservation Fund. However, the Republican majority made this bad bill even worse by adding toxic partisan riders and making deeper cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Fish and Wildlife Service.

“There were a few bright spots of bipartisan cooperation in this bill, including increases in funding for our National Parks; defending the arts and humanities; and continued support for Native American health, education and safety. My successful amendment provides for an increase to critical funding for assistance to territories at the Department of Interior's Office of Insular Affairs. This is an uptick of about $4 million in Federal support for Americans in insular territories of the United States, including the Virgin Islands.

“The Federal Government supports the territories through Department of Interior assistance activity, with funding channeled towards technical assistance to local governments and to assist in upgrading essential community facilities like schools and hospitals, and critical infrastructure including waste disposal and wastewater systems.

“Construction or repair to schools and hospitals account for much of the Capital Improvement Project expenditures that come directly out of this Assistance to Territories account. I believe it is imperative that the Federal Government enhance its commitment to address the pressing needs of Americans living in the territories as we face grave natural disaster and security threats. I continue to be concerned about the catastrophic impact of Hurricanes Irma and Maria to the Virgin Islands, especially in light of financial solvency issues, coupled with the anticipated amount of time before government, industry, and utilities are able to fully function and generate revenues.

“Americans residing in the U.S. territories may be the first to be hit by a major hurricane, but have no vote on the budget for FEMA or anything else. They continue to be severely tried, and in circumstances beyond their control. I was pleased that my amendment to raise the funding for assistance to territories was accepted as a simple matter of fairness to the residents of the Virgin Islands.”