Bills seek to provide $140M to fishing fleets– Times Standard
Huffman: Legislation could provide $140M in relief left out of spending bill
By Will Houston, Eureka Times-Standard
Wednesday, May 3, 2017
After Congress chose not to include millions in disaster relief funds for West Coast fishing fleets in its newest spending bill this week, 2nd District Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) announced he is contributing to two bills on Wednesday that would provide $140 million to struggling California fishermen.
Huffman and California Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-Hillsborough) also urged Gov. Jerry Brown and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross on Wednesday to declare a new fisheries disaster for the 2017 salmon season.
“Hardworking fishermen and coastal economies along the North Coast are experiencing real economic hardship from several disastrous fishing seasons in a row, causing these fishermen to miss boat payments or even decide to leave their fishing business altogether,” Huffman said in a statement.
“They have played by the rules, and the state and federal governments have agreed that they’re eligible for financial relief, but now that the money is owed Congress has fallen down on the job. We have a responsibility to these fishing communities to keep up the fight until Congress delivers the money.”
The two bills written by Huffman and Speier would provide nearly $22.5 million in relief funds to the Yurok Tribe to aid salmon fishing communities and salmon restoration and monitoring projects. The bills would also provide more than $117 million for California Dungeness crab and rock crab fishermen affected by the delayed 2015-16 season.
It also allocates $1 million for monitoring and sampling toxic algae blooms that led to the poor crab season as well as another $5 million for federal grants to research algal bloom prediction, according to Huffman’s office.
Then-Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker issued disaster declarations for the Yurok Tribe’s 2016 salmon season and the 2015-16 crab seasons in January, which authorized Congress to appropriate relief funds.
The House on Wednesday passed a $1.1 trillion bill to fund the government through the end of September, the first significant piece of bipartisan legislation of Donald Trump’s presidency.
The 309-118 vote sends the bill to the Senate in time to act before a midnight Friday deadline to avert a government shutdown.
While Huffman told the Times-Standard last week that he would not vote in favor of a bill that would approve an unwarranted increase in military spending, Huffman said he voted in favor of the bill on Wednesday to secure “key priorities.”
“I voted for today’s funding bill not because I think that it is a perfect piece of legislation, but because it preserves key policies and activities that were under very real threat from President Trump and this Republican Congress,” Huffman said in a statement. “From Planned Parenthood’s health services to fisheries research that sustains our coastal economy, today’s bill protected many federal efforts that make a difference in the lives of my constituents.”
The White House says Trump will sign the measure, which gives him much of the money he sought for defense and border security and a $15 million increase in military spending, but denies startup construction funding for Trump’s oft-promise wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The measure is the product of weeks of Capitol Hill negotiations in which Democrats blocked Trump’s most controversial proposals, including cuts to domestic programs backed by both parties and new steps to punish so-called sanctuary cities.
Will Houston can be reached at 707-441-0504. The Associated Press contributed to this article.