Congressman José E. Serrano

Representing the 15th District of New York

The Serrano Report - Volume XVI, Issue #32

Mar 26, 2018
The Serrano Report

Congressman Serrano  Helps Secure Important Funding Increases in Final FY2018 CJS Omnibus Bill

Congressman Serrano, Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Commerce, Justice, and Science Subcommittee was instrumental in shaping the CJS portion of the legislation, successfully fought to increase funding for the U.S. Census Bureau, the elimination of a number of riders that would have undermined gun safety, and an increase in funding for programs to help combat the opioid crisis nationwide.

“I am proud of the significant increase in funding for a number of key Department of Justice, Department of Commerce and science-related programs we were able to negotiate and include in the final bill.

“Since the beginning of this Congress, I have made it a priority to fight for significant funding increases for the Bureau of the Census within the Department of Commerce. I’m proud that the bill includes a significant increase, to $2.8 billion, for the agency.  This money will help the Census Bureau address several challenges in preparing for the 2020 Census, although as we saw yesterday, several political pitfalls remain. This is a huge victory for those of us who want to see an accurate and fair count in 2020. A number of programs within the Department of Commerce aimed at promoting economic development will also see a significant increase in funding: $10 million for the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) program over last year’s level; $25.5 million for the Economic Development Administration (EDA) above last year’s level; and the $5 million increase for the Minority Business Development Agency was maintained. These are all programs that President Trump proposed to eliminate in his fiscal year 2018 budget request. 

“A program that I created to support the training and graduation of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) students from underrepresented communities, the Educational Partnership Program (EPP), will also receive a $1.1 million increase within NOAA.  To continue addressing climate change, we successfully fought off Republican efforts to reduce funding for climate research.

“Within the Department of Justice, a number of public safety and opioid treatment programs saw a significant increase in funding. The Comprehensive School Safety Initiative will have access to an additional $25 million in funding above last year’s level and $55 million above what the Trump Administration requested. The COPS Program, another key program for the safety of our neighborhoods, will receive $54 million in additional funding. This will help communities hire more officers and ensure community safety. The bill also includes an increase for efforts to improve the NICS background check system, and for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF).  Several gun riders that would have made it easier from criminals to obtain weapons, and harder for law enforcement to track those weapons, were successfully removed from the House version of the bill.  To help address the opioid crisis, a total of $300 million in additional funding will be distributed throughout a number of grant programs in the Department of Justice to help access treatment, improve law enforcement training, and other initiatives. 

“With regards to science priorities, NASA’s budget was increased by $1.1 billion above last year’s level. Funding for National Science Foundation (NSF) research increased by $300 million and funding for the NSF Hispanic Serving Institutions Program increased to a total of $30 million. These increases will help maintain our nation’s leadership in the sciences, and encourage Hispanics to study and enter STEM professions. Lastly, two important civil rights agencies were awarded significant funding increases: the Legal Services Corporation (LSC), a program that Trump proposed to eliminate, will receive $25 million above last year (for a total of $410 million); and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will receive an increase of $15 million above last year’s level.”

“Overall, the CJS portion of the bill is funded at $59.6 billion, an increase of $5.7 billion above the House passed level," Said Congressman Serrano. 

Congressman Serrano Blasts Federal Response to Puerto Rico on 6th Month Anniversary of Hurricane Maria Landfall

On the 6th month anniversary of Hurricane Maria's passage through Puerto Rico, Congressman Serrano joined Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Chairman of the Democratic Caucus Joe Crowley, Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez and Congressman Albio Sires to call attention to the Federal government’s lack of action in response to the natural disaster that has left thousands of Americans without electricity and water for over 6 months.


On the same day, Congressman Serrano joined the Power 4 Puerto Rico rally outside of FEMA's headquarters in Washington D.C. to urge the Trump Administration to provide adequate assistance to the island. For the past six months, FEMA has been criticized for their slow response in Puerto Rico.

Watch Congressman Serrano's remarks at the Power 4 Puerto Rico Rally in front of FEMA's headquarters here:


Congressman Serrano also led a letter with Puerto Rico's Resident Commissioner/Congresswoman Jenniffer Gonzalez urging Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to provide immediate relief to the U.S. citizens of Puerto Rico by correcting disparities in the administration of the island’s Medicare Advantage payment rates.

Congressman Serrano Attacks Citizenship Question Proposal for 2020 Census

Last week, Congressman Serrano questioned Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on a potential proposed Census 2020 question on immigration status. Last December, the Justice Department asked the Census Bureau to include a  question on citizenshipthat would discourage Latinos and immigrants from participating in the Census and being accurately counted. The Census Bureau is considering the proposal, and must provide a final list of questions  to Congress by March 31st.

The 2020 Census is crucial in the allocation of federal resources across the country and we must make sure we have a correct count in order for the Bronx to get its fair share.  In addition to questioning Secretary Ross, Congressman Serrano joined his colleague Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney in a press event later that day to criticize the proposal as well as announce  that they will be introducing legislation to prevent this proposal from moving forward. Congressman Espaillat, Congresswoman Meng, former Census Bureau Director Doctor Kenneth Prewitt and NALEO Educational Fund Executive Director Arturo Vargas also joined Congressman Serrano and Congresswoman Maloney. 

Watch Congressman Serrano's Exchange with Secretary Ross here:


Congressman Serrano Joins DMV Students for National Walk Out Day

Congressman Serrano Meets with the Commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, NY District 

Congressman Serrano met with Colonel Thomas D. Asbery, Commander of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, New York District and his staff to receive an update on the Army Corp's plans and programs in New York and the Administration's 2019 Civil Works budget.

Congressman Serrano has been a strong supporter of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers efforts to clean up the Bronx River and in Puerto Rico in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. 


Congressman Serrano Meets with Legal Services Corporation

Last week, Congressman Serrano met with Legal Services Corporation (LSC) President Jim Sandman and Board Chair John Levi to discuss federal funding for the LSC and legal aid's importance. LSC is an independent nonprofit established by Congress in 1974 to provide financial support for civil legal aid to low-income Americans. Many LSC grantees serve thousands of low-income individuals, including children, families, seniors, and veterans in 813 offices all over the country. It offers invaluable services for many Bronxites who otherwise wouldn’t have access to legal services and representation.

Congressman Serrano Meets with Students from Cornell University to Discuss Federal Financial Aid

Congressman Serrano met with students from Cornell University to discuss the importance of federal financial aid and how it affects their education and career choices. The group of students included our one Bronxite, Gabriela Mino. Congressman Serrano has long advocated for proper funding for federal Pell Grants as well as equity in higher education.


Congressman Serrano meets with NASA Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot

Last week, Congressman Serrano met with NASA Acting Administrator Robert Lightfoot to discuss the importance of funding NASA and other exciting things going on at NASA. Congressman Serrano has been a long time supporter of NASA and welcomed NASA Astronaut Lee Morin in the Bronx last year.  

Congressman Serrano Leads Bicameral Letter Urging Treasury Secretary Mnuchin to Expedite and Expand Community Disaster Loan for Puerto Rico

Last week Congressman Serrano, a longtime member of the House Appropriations Committee, led a bicameral letter with 57 of his colleagues to Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin urging him to expedite the Community Disaster Loan process so that Puerto Rico has sufficient funds to offer essential services to its residents.  According to recent reports, the loan amount offered to Puerto Rico is $2.06 billion instead of the $4.7 billion appropriated by Congress last year. The Treasury Department has also sought to impose stringent repayment terms on the loan. Congressman Serrano and his colleagues in both chambers urged the Secretary to offer the full loan amount and act in good faith.

“Puerto Rico remains in deep fiscal distress. The Department of the Treasury should offer a helping hand by offering generous terms on the loan in order to incentivize a quick recovery on the island.  To this date, more than six months after Hurricanes Irma and Maria struck the island almost 20 percent of the people of Puerto Rico have no power.  More than 300,000 people have left the island and many more will do so unless the federal government does more to provide relief.  Fully funding a loan at $4.7 billion will help the Puerto Rican government and its 78 municipalities provide basic services for its residents and prevent a mass exodus.  Absent such a request, it seems likely that the Puerto Rican government will simply not have the necessary funds to operate at full capacity,” wrote the members.

You can read the full letter here:

Watch Congressman Serrano question Secretary Mnuchin on this issue at the Financial Services Appropriations Subcommittee Hearing on the Treasury Department’s FY 2019 budget here:


Congressman Serrano Questions U.S. Army Corps of Engineers on Key Bronx and Puerto Rico Projects

Last week, Congressman Serrano asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for an update on the Bronx River and the New York Harbor projects in New York City included in the agency’s fiscal year 2019 budget request. The Congressman also asked for clarification on why funding for Cayo Martin Peña in Puerto Rico was not included in the agency’s funding request for fiscal year 2019 and what the Army Corps is doing in Puerto Rico help fully restore electricity on the island.

Watch the Congressman’s questioning here: