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Schatz: Senate Passes Appropriations Deal, Hawai‘i Set To Receive Billions In New Federal Funding

Funding To Hawai‘i Will Improve Roads, Infrastructure, Provide Food, Housing Assistance For Families, Support Veterans; First Half Of Bipartisan Government Funding Bills Heads to President’s Desk, Second Half Expected To Be Released In Coming Weeks With Additional Funding For Hawai‘i

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate today passed the first half of a bipartisan appropriations deal that will deliver billions in federal funding for critical programs that benefit Hawai‘i. U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i), a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, successfully secured funding for Hawai‘i’s priorities in the final deal. The package now heads to the president’s desk to be signed into law.

“Hawai‘i is to set to receive billions in new federal funding. The new funding will improve our roads and infrastructure, provide people with housing, food assistance, and other essential services, and cover significant costs for the state and help address its budget challenges,” said Senator Schatz, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The second half of the appropriations deal, which will include additional funding for health, education and other key programs for Hawai‘i, is expected to be released in the coming weeks.


Native Hawaiian Housing – $22.3 million. As Chair of both the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Housing, Senator Schatz worked to secure funding for the Native Hawaiian Housing Block Grant Program, which provides financial assistance for Native Hawaiian families to obtain new homes, make renovations, build community facilities, and receive housing services, including counseling, financial literacy and other critical resources to address housing disparities. This year’s funding level preserves the record high from the last two years.

Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) – $7 billion (nationwide), a $1 billion increase from last year. The bill fully funds WIC avoiding shortfalls which would have resulted in 2 million pregnant women and children being turned away from the program for the first time in decades. This increase retains essential benefits for the 25,000 WIC participants in Hawai‘i.

Community Health Centers – $4.4 billion (nationwide), a $400 million increase from last year and a projected $1.3 million increase for Hawai‘i. Continued funding for 14 of Hawai‘i’s federally-qualified community health centers providing high-quality and affordable primary and preventive care, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy, vision, and complementary services to rural and medically underserved communities.

Affordable Housing and Community Development – $4.7 billion (nationwide). Hawai‘i faces a critical housing shortage and this bill supports programs that will help Hawai‘i build more housing. Specifically, the bill includes:

  • $100 million for the “Yes In My Back Yard” grant program — a $15 million increase over fiscal year 2023. Senator Schatz created this program to incentivize state and local governments to change their zoning and land use laws and regulations that too often unfairly limit the amount of housing that can be built where it’s needed.
  • $3.3 billion for the Community Development Block Grant formula program, which supports development for low income communities.
  • $1.3 billion for the HOME Investment Partnerships Program—The HOME program is the primary federal tool for state and local governments to produce affordable rental and owner-occupied housing. This funding level will lead to the construction of more than 7,000 new rental and homebuyer units.

Port Infrastructure Improvement Projects – $7.5 million. Funding will support U.S. Army Corps of Engineers public works projects in Hawai‘i, including work for the Kahului Harbor on Maui, the Manele Small Boat Harbor on Lana‘i, and Kalaeloa Harbor on O‘ahu.

Bus and Transit – $16.6 billion (nationwide). This funding is distributed among the states and counties for the operation and capital costs associated with the operation of public transit systems, including the Maui Bus, TheBus, Kauai Bus, Hele-On Bus, and TheHandi-Van fleets.

Highways and Bridges – $63 billion (nationwide). The funding is distributed from the Highway Trust Fund to states for highway maintenance and new construction of bridges, roads, and bike and pedestrian paths.

Homelessness Assistance – $4 billion (nationwide). As Chair of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Housing, Senator Schatz secured a $418 million increase above fiscal year 2023. In addition to sustaining investments for existing projects, addressing youth homelessness, and supporting survivors of domestic violence, the bill provides:

  • $100 million for permanent supportive housing, a $25 million increase over fiscal year 2023;
  • $25 million for an inflationary adjustment for supportive service projects so that providers can hire and retain qualified personnel; and
  • $2.5 million for direct technical assistance to communities that are leveraging other funds, like Medicaid, to connect individuals experiencing homelessness to housing-related services and behavioral healthcare. Hawai‘i is receiving technical assistance to better connect services now.

National Estuarine Research Reserve, including He‘eia – $33.3 million (nationwide), an $800,000 increase from last year. Funding will be shared among system sites, including the He‘eia National Estuarine Research Reserve. This site demonstrates the value of Native Hawaiian taro cultivation and fishpond aquaculture to maintain a healthy ecosystem. It is viewed by NOAA to be a model site because of its seamless integration of science and culture.

Species Management Research – $6 million. The funding will support National Park Service’s work to protect Hawaiian Forest Birds and habitat using mosquito control and habitat conservation in national parks.

The Native American Veteran Housing Loan Program – $2.7 million (nationwide), a $1.3 million increase. This funding will support VA home loans to assist veterans in purchasing, constructing, and improving homes.

Native Hawaiian and Alaska Native-Serving Institutions – $5 million. The funding provides competitive grants to Native Hawaiian-serving institutions to carry out education, applied research, and community development programs.

Native Community Development Capacity Building – $1 million. This funding from HUD’s Section 4 program is for non-profit organizations to carry out affordable housing and community development activities to support American Indian, Native Hawaiian, and Alaska Native communities.

Veterans Affairs Medical Care – $121 billion (nationwide), a $2.3 billion increase from last year. Funding will be used for:

  • Rural Health: increases funding to support improved access to care for veterans living in rural areas, including expanded access to transportation and telehealth.
  • Caregivers: increases funding to help VA implement the VA caregiver program.
  • Women’s Health: increases funding for gender-specific health care services, as well as initiatives and improvements to healthcare facilities.
  • Veteran Homelessness Prevention: increases funding for critical services and housing assistance for veterans and their families experiencing housing insecurity.
  • Mental Health: increases funding for veterans mental health services, including suicide prevention outreach.
  • Child Care: expands the Child Care Pilot Program to eliminate barriers for veterans in need of child care while attending medical appointments.

Native Tourism Assistance – $3 million (nationwide). The Native American Tourism and Improving Visitor Experience (NATIVE) Act, which Senator Schatz introduced and successfully passed into law, requires federal agencies with recreational or tourism functions to include Native Americans and Native Hawaiians in their management plans. This bill directs improved implementation of the law and provides more than $3 million in total dedicated technical assistance funding across multiple agencies.

WaterSMART Water Efficiency Program – $54 million (nationwide). The grant funding is used to help states conserve and use water more efficiently; increase the production of hydropower; mitigate conflict risk in areas at a high risk of future water conflict; and accomplish other benefits that contribute to water supply reliability. This year, Schatz pushed for report language directing the Bureau of Reclamation to conduct outreach in newly-eligible states, like Hawai‘i, which only became eligible for WaterSMART as a result of Senator Schatz’s SECURE Water Amendments Act.

Energy Transitions Initiative – $15 million (Hawai‘i and Puerto Rico), a $5 million increase from last year. The Energy Transitions Initiative helps remote and island communities design their own clean energy and resilience solutions to address high energy costs and reliability issues, with help from world-class U.S. Department of Energy experts. The program recently gave awards to Kaua‘i and Honolulu.

Ocean Carbon Removal Research – $10 million (nationwide). The funding will be used for ocean-based carbon removal research, including funding for research into biological processes like using naturally occurring kelp or algae to manage carbon emissions.

Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument – $1.2 million. This funding supports science-based management, research, and education for the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument and the Hawaiian Island Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary.

Minority Business Development Agency – $5 million (nationwide). The agency funds grants for American Indian, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian entities. In Hawai‘i, the grants will help Native Hawaiian organizations qualified to provide business, financing, and technical assistance successfully deliver their services.

Endangered Hawaiian Marine Species Protection – $11.7 million. $4.6 million in funding will continue to support conservation and recovery of monk seals, the only seal species in the world that live in only one nation's territorial waters, with research on vaccination and disease prevention (morbillivirus and toxoplasmosis). $5.6 million in funding will support sea turtle conservation activities such as continued monitoring of endangered turtle populations and the impacts of habitat loss. $1.5 million in funding will support investigations into interactions between fisheries and false killer whales.

Airport Agricultural Inspections – $35.5 million (nationwide). In Hawai‘i, this program helps to fund federal agricultural inspectors at airports on Kaua‘i, Maui, O‘ahu, and Hawai‘i Island. It is critical to conduct inspections at the neighbor island airports so that passengers can directly connect to flights to the mainland.

Native Hawaiian and Alaska Native Culture and Art – $1.8 million (Hawai‘i and Alaska), a $250,000 increase from last year. Under the National Recreation and Preservation programs, Senator Schatz secured funding for grants to nonprofit organizations or institutions that support programs for Native Hawaiian or Alaska Native culture and arts development.

Volcano Monitoring – $37.5 million. The funding supports the National Volcano Early Warning and Monitoring System (NVEWS) and Volcanic Hazard Assessments to give Hawai‘i residents warning of volcanic activity and keep people safe in the event of an emergency.

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park and Kalaupapa National Historical Park – $43 million. The new funding from the National Parks and Public Land Legacy Restoration Funds supports infrastructure to facilitate the parks operations with installations of new fuel tanks and water treatment systems.

Macadamia Nut Health Initiative – $1 million. This funding will support research to combat and control the felted macadamia nut coccid to improve the production of this iconic Hawaiian crop.

Coffee Leaf Rust Research – $1.2 million (nationwide). This funding will support development of science-based management strategies, extension services, and research on varieties of coffee that are resistant to coffee leaf rust.

State of the Birds Research – $5.3 million, a $500,000 increase from last year. State of the Birds activities are dedicated to stopping the bird extinction crisis in Hawai‘i. More than 90 Hawaiian bird species have gone extinct, and nine listed Hawaiian bird species are currently in decline. These funds are crucial to prevent further extinctions as climate change, habitat degradation and destruction, and other human and environmental impacts threaten to reach crisis levels.

Tropical Grazing Land Pest Management – $1 million. This funding will support science-based pest management strategies for invasive insect species that affect tropical grazing lands, such as the two-lined spittlebug attacking Hawai‘i Island's pasture lands.

Geographically Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers – $3.5 million (nationwide). This funding reimburses geographically disadvantaged producers in Hawai‘i, Alaska, and insular areas with a portion of the cost to transport agricultural commodities or inputs used to produce an agricultural commodity.

Food Security Microgrants – $2 million. This funding will go towards helping individuals and groups in Hawai‘i purchase tools, soil, seeds, plants, animals, composting units, gardening systems, and other necessities for growing and preserving food. The funds can also be used to expand areas under cultivation, extend the growing season, build or repair livestock fencing, travel to agricultural education programs, expand the sale of locally grown crops and meats, and to engage in other activities that increase food security.

Coral Reef Conservation – $33.5 million (nationwide). This funding supports NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program, which addresses the top threats to coral reef ecosystems in Hawai‘i and across the country. Working with partners, NOAA develops place-based strategies, measures the effectiveness of management efforts, and builds capacity among reef managers globally.

Hawaiian Homelands – $500,000. The funding the Department of the Interior’s Office of Native Hawaiian Relations will be used to help carry out land assessments, including up to $200,000 to add capacity related to infrastructure programs.

Air Traffic Controller Staffing and Air Travel Modernization – $20 billion (nationwide). This funding will allow the FAA to continue its air traffic controller hiring surge by adding 1,800 new controllers, improving training facilities at the air traffic controller academy, and addressing the reliability of critical IT and telecommunications legacy systems. The bill also includes funding for Airport Improvement Program grants to reduce emissions at airports, build airport infrastructure necessary to support unleaded fuels and sustainable aviation fuels, and build resiliency at airports in the face of climate change and worsening natural disasters. Air travel is critical for Hawai‘i and Senator Schatz secured this funding to keep travelers safe and help ensure they reach their destination in a timely manner.

STEM Apprenticeship and Workforce Development – $2.5 million (nationwide). These grants create and expand apprenticeship and other workforce development models in the fast-growing science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields, helping people get the skills they need to find jobs in these areas.

State and Community Energy Programs – $493 million (nationwide). This funding establishes state Department of Energy offices to help communities evaluate their energy needs and facilitate federal funding opportunities for new development.

Veterans Crisis Line – $300 million (nationwide). The funding for Department of Veterans Affairs’ 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, including support for appropriate staffing for call centers and back-up centers and to provide the necessary training for call center staff to respond to callers.

Tsunami Program – $28.5 million (nationwide). The NOAA Tsunami Program provides funding to coastal states for preparedness activities such as inundation mapping, disaster planning, and tsunami education. Funding includes support for tsunami monitoring, forecasts, and a grant program, which states can compete for, to prepare inundation maps and assist with outreach and education. Hawai‘i relies on all three components of the program. The increase in funding fill important vacancies and improve technology.

Improved Data for Weather Forecasting – $30 million (nationwide), a $5.3 million increase from last year. NOAA’s Mesonet Program purchases weather data from non-federal networks to supply fine resolution data that can greatly enhance forecasts. Because of Senator Schatz, this program has expanded to include non-contiguous states like Alaska and Hawai‘i.

Regional Innovation Program – $50 million (nationwide). At least $40 million of this funding will go to the i6 challenge program, which helps build regional capacity and translates innovations into jobs by providing assistance to innovators and entrepreneurs. At least $8 million will go to the B2S Capital Challenge, which seeks to support investment funds that provide the capital which allows startups to grow and scale.

Clean Energy Research for the Military – $27.5 million (nationwide). This funding supports the Navy’s alternative energy research programs, including those in Hawai‘i that are working to make the Navy and its installations more resilient and less reliant on fossil fuels. Senator Schatz worked to maintain $27.5 million in funding for the Navy’s alternative energy research and development.

Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH) Dry Dock 3 Replacement – $1.3 billion. The funding will be used to construct a concrete, dry dock (Dry Dock 5), with super flood capability in support of Virginia (VA) class and Next Generation Attack Submarines (SSNX). Construction will include a caisson, dewatering pump house, chiller pump house, fire-water pump house, electrical utility buildings, operational storage, restroom facilities, mechanical and electrical utilities, utility tunnels, duct banks, all appurtenances required to ensure an operational dry dock, and dredging.

Aliamanu Military Reservation Water Storage Tank – $20 million. The funding will help build one potable water above ground storage tank to achieve required supply pressure applicable to peak domestic demand and fire flow at Aliamanu Military Reservation. Primary facility requirements include one above ground water storage tank for Zone 3 (North Tank), water pump replacement, backup electrical power generator, cybersecurity, and Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition systems to tie-in to existing water supply system. Supporting facilities include cut and fill site work, retaining walls, an access road, erosion control, fencing, vehicle gate, maintenance vehicle parking, water line valves.

Military Housing Privatization Initiative (MHPI) Restructure JBPHH – $75 million. Ensures adequate funding for privatized military housing sustainment needs including roofing, HVAC units, appliance replacements, and exterior maintenance. This funding also provides support for reinvestment needs including whole-house renovations and infrastructure upgrades. These funds aim to make up for funding shortfalls beyond the control of privatized housing owner. These overhauls will result in an increase in quality of life standards and safety at units.


Increased Medicare Payments to Physicians – The bill includes a 1.7 percent increase in Medicare payments to physicians, which nearly completely reverses cuts that took effect on January 1. Funding protects access to care for the nearly 300,000 Medicare beneficiaries in Hawai‘i.

Compacts of Free Association (COFA) – The appropriations package contains language that would extend our key agreements with the Freely Associated States (FAS)—the Republic of Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, and the Federated States of Micronesia—which are critical for the health and wellbeing of their people, U.S. national security, and Indo-Pacific democracy and good governance. It includes the key provisions from my Care for COFA Veterans Act, which would allow the VA to provide medical care to veterans of the U.S. military living in the FAS. The VA would no longer be restricted from providing services to veterans residing in the FAS, including through direct care from VA providers, such as via telehealth, or through contracts with community providers; shipping medications to the FAS; and reimbursing veterans for travel from their home countries to the United States.

Center for Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander, and US-Affiliated Pacific Islander Health – The bill reaffirms appreciation for American Indian, Alaska Native, Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islander and U.S.-Affiliated Pacific Islander military service and recognizes the challenges they have in securing the benefits they have earned. The bill requires reporting on access to VA benefits and supports the establishment of the Center for Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders, and U.S.-Affiliated Pacific Islanders Health.

Psychedelic Research – The bill includes language that recognizes the increased interest and need to study psychedelic therapies and their potential therapeutic effects for veterans and encourages the Department of Veterans Affairs to explore opportunities to assist with privately-funded research programs on the efficacy of psychedelic research.

Student Veterans Transparency and Protection – The bill includes language that encourages the Department of Veterans Affairs to improve the GI Bill Comparison tool by retaining historical data and further collaborating with the Department of Education to ensure data is robust and up to date and training personnel on how to properly use the tool.