featured graphic for Michelle Steel, Congresswoman for California’s 48th District, after COVID-19

Rep. Steel delivers $15.5 million for Surfside-Sunset and Newport Beach Replenishment Project

Rep. Michelle Steel’s (R-CA) funding request for the Surfside-Sunset & Newport Beach Replenishment Project passed the House of Representatives. $15.5 million was included in this year’s major funding bill, which now heads to the Senate for passage before being signed into law by President Biden. With the support of Orange County leaders and project stakeholders, Rep. Steel engaged with Appropriations Committee leaders to emphasize the importance of the local project. The funding will go towards the project and aid the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the beach repair, which is more than a decade overdue. 

“For more than a decade I’ve worked with local stakeholders to ensure our beaches are healthy and our residents are protected, and I’m thrilled that this overdue project will finally have the funding to be completed,” said Rep. Steel. “I promised I would get this project done for our community, and I’m proud to deliver for Orange County. Our beaches are our lifeblood and it’s critical that they are protected and preserved for generations to come.”

The funding bill Rep. Steel supported today also included an extension of telehealth services for those who have a High Deductible Health Plans (HDHP) in combination with a Health Savings Account (HSA) through the end of 2022. The CARES Act, signed into law in March 2020, allowed HSA-qualified high-deductible health plans to cover telehealth services before reaching the deductible, and allowed individuals to choose and purchase the use of telehealth services outside their high-deductible health plan, without impacting their eligibility for an HSA. This expired on December 31, 2021. This expiration meant that individuals and families had to reach their deductible – often thousands of dollars – before being able to access telehealth care.

To prevent these additional costs for individuals and families, Rep. Steel introduced bipartisan legislation with Rep. Susie Lee (D-NV) to make this provision in the CARES Act permanent, which would allow Americans with Health Savings Accounts (HSA) to access telehealth services without first having to meet their deductible. The bill passed on the floor today is a step forward to ensure that 32 million Americans have access to virtual care.

Also included in the bill passed by the House:

  • Report language requested by Rep. Steel to strengthen community engagement on aviation noise.
  • Funding supported by Rep. Steel to increase security at local houses of worship.
  • $14 billion in critical military, economic, and humanitarian assistance for Ukraine.
  • A nearly 11% increase in funding for the Department of Homeland Security to address the ongoing border crisis.
  • Maintains all existing pro-life funding restrictions, including preservation of the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits taxpayer money from being used for abortion.
  • Funds a 2.7% pay increase for our servicemembers.
  • Increased support for U.S.-Israel defense and energy cooperation.
  • Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act.

Background on Surfside-Sunset and Newport Beach Replenishment Project:

The erosion on Orange County’s beaches can be traced back to federal projects in the 1940s. The federal government widened Anaheim Bay and constructed breakwaters and jetties to service the new military bases that opened to boost military efforts for the U.S. Pacific Fleet. The USACE also created flood control projects along three local rivers, and breakwaters were constructed to create and protect the Los Angeles/Long Beach harbor. This new construction created narrowed beaches up and down the coastline that were now susceptible to extreme erosion.

The USACE and the federal government, realizing the damage that had been caused, took steps to repair the issue. The project was referred to as the “San Gabriel to Newport Bay Beach Renourishment Project (Surfside-Sunset),” and today it’s the Surfside-Sunset & Newport Beach Replenishment Project (Stage 13). The repair project, done in increments, began with in 1964 and saw eight more project stages through 1990. The project had a continued partnership between the federal government, which provided 67% of the financing, and local communities, which provided the remaining 33%. The local cost share was always covered when it was time for a new project stage.

Then in 1995, after planning Stage 10, the USACE abandoned their responsibilities to Orange County. In 2000, the USACE stated that it was no longer budgeting for any future stages in Orange County. This left the communities on the hook for the high costs and left the coast at a high risk for flooding and major storm damage.

To read more about Representative Steel’s work on this project, click here.

This article was released by the Office of Representative Michelle Steel.