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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Omnibus Appropriations Act Helps Washington, D.C. Area

The $410 billion ‘‘Omnibus Appropriations Act of 2009 (spending bill) (H.R. 1105) that President Barack Obama signed on March 11 to fund government operations through September 30 (FY 2009 was particularly generous to the Washington Metropolitan Area. The spending bill was criticized for containing about 8,500 earmarks, or legislators' pet projects, worth almost $8 billion. When did they stop calling this 'pork or pork barrel?' Whatever you call it, there were some very important funding measures included in the bill for the Washington, D.C region.

There was $10 million to help watermen struggling with the depletion of the blue crab population and $4.6 million to restore oyster habitats in the bay. Maryland and Virginia will split those amounts. There was $14 million for the District's combined sewer overflow control plan.

The spending measure provides millions for roads and public transit in the region. About $29 million is set aside for the long-planned extension of Metro to Dulles International Airport, and $1.9 million will go to improve the Interstate 95/Fairfax County Parkway interchange. It pays off the final $34.7 million owed for 52 new Metro rail cars and puts $13 million toward MARC rail line improvements. Almost $1 million was approved for Metro bicycle lockers and for a bus safety program. There was $2 million for a new entrance and elevators for the Rosslyn Metro station.

Other interesting items include:

-- $950,000 for land for a new Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge
-- $163.5 million for the Food and Drug Administration's campus in White Oak for a new lab focused on bioterrorism and antidotes to epidemic diseases.
-- $331 million for building the Homeland Security Department headquarters in the District's Ward 8 at the St. Elizabeth's Hospital site.

(Wash Post, 3/12/09)

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