Congresswoman Grace Meng, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, secured several key provisions that seek to increase the Federal Aviation Administration’s engagement with communities, expand security funding for houses of worship and nonprofits, improve outreach by the federal Small Business Association and enhance important protections for consumers.
The measures are items that Meng included in key spending bills for fiscal year 2021. Specifically, the provisions would accomplish the following:
- Allocate an additional $5 million so that the FAA can hire more staff to increase the agency’s community engagement capacity. This increased engagement, which stands to benefit areas such as Queens, would include the FAA’s participation in community roundtables and meetings with local officials. It would also allow for more improved contractor support in order to make additional data publicly available about aircraft positions and altitude, as well as preparing air traffic histories and analyses, and conducting environmental reviews.
- Require the FAA to submit an annual report to Congress on activities undertaken by its regional ombudsmen, who serve as the regional liaisons on issues regarding airplane noise, pollution and safety. The report must log all FAA programs related to airport, aircraft and environmental noise. It must also detail the current FAA intake and response process for noise complaints, and the process expected after the Noise Complaint and Inquiry Database and Tracking System is implemented nationally. The report must be provided no later than 180 days after the enactment of the provision.
- Boost the Nonprofit Security Grant Program to a record-breaking $180 million. The program is the federal initiative that provides houses of worship and nonprofit entities such as synagogues, churches, mosques, schools, community facilities and nonprofit organizations with funding to protect their properties against threats and attacks. In July, Meng announced that 16 Jewish and two Christian facilities throughout Queens received a total of more than $1.7 million under the program.
- Call on the SBA to increase outreach and direct support to women entrepreneurs and small businesses in underserved communities such as those in Queens, including the Asian-American community, and to increase engagement with minority-serving institutions in its programming and grant mending. Small businesses play a critical role in neighborhoods and communities across the borough. They provide jobs, important services and drive the region’s economy. It is critical for female entrepreneurs and businesses in underserved areas to be made aware of and afforded all the opportunities and resources that the SBA has to offer, particularly as these establishments recover from the impact of the COVID-9 crisis.
- Require a report to Congress on the effects of direct and indirect food additives to determine if they pose physical and behavioral health risks to children. There are more than 10,000 additives to preserve or modify the taste, appearance and nutrients in food. Food additives and their effects are dramatically under-studied and probing this issue would increase safety and transparency in the foods that kids eat.
- Require the FDA to issue guidance to manufacturers of commonly used menstrual hygiene products, such as scented and unscented pads, cups and scented and unscented tampons, to list the ingredients in these items. The measure aims to make menstrual hygiene products safer by ensuring that women know what they are putting in their bodies. Meng has long worked to increase the safety and transparency of menstrual items and has championed the issue in Congress. Her bill, the Menstrual Products Right to Know Act, would mandate the labeling of ingredients in menstrual products, which would be listed in descending order of concentration.
“Ensuring accountability of the FAA increasing the safety of our religious and community facilities, greater access to SBA resources and improving protections for women and children are critical provisions that I was proud to secure in the latest round of spending bills,” Meng said. “All stand to provide important benefits to Queens residents including improving safety, transparency and quality of life. I look forward to seeing these measures enacted into law, and I will continue working to obtain even more funding for important issues in future legislation.”