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Mass. fishermen among winners in budget deal

$1 trillion pact also restores Head Start funds

“This is much needed relief for fishermen in Massachusetts,” Senator Edward Markey said.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff/File

WASHINGTON — Massachusetts fishermen, MIT scientists, and low-income parents with young children are among the winners in a $1.012 trillion spending deal released Monday night by Congress.

Under the bill poised to clear Congress this week, $75 million in fisheries disaster relief will go toward the Commerce Department, which will then distribute it to states. A nuclear fusion research project at MIT will get a cash infusion. And the deal restores Head Start funding, which promotes school readiness for young children in low-income families.

The benefits are part of a bipartisan bill to fund the US government through Sept. 30. The compromise signals a break from years of budget cuts and congressional funding fights.


“We’re very pleased,” Representative John Tierney, who represents North Shore communities including the fishing center of Gloucester, said on Tuesday. “We’ve been desperate for our folks to get the help that they need.”

The White House and leaders of both parties praised the agreement, which would relax steep spending cuts known as the sequester. It would provide an additional $45 billion for military domestic discretionary programs for fiscal year 2014 and an additional $85.2 billion for Afghanistan war funding.

Government funding lapses Wednesday, so lawmakers plan to approve a separate three-day measure to extend the deadline to Saturday. The Republican-led House is slated to pass the 1,582-page bill Wednesday, with a Senate vote expected at the end of the week.

The $75 million in fisheries money marks the first relief since the Northeast groundfishing industry was declared an economic disaster in September 2012. As a result, significant cuts impacted the groundfish catch allocations of Northeast fishermen.

Members of the Massachusetts delegation praised the development Tuesday, saying it would provide support to the state’s fishing communities.

“This is much-needed relief for fishermen in Massachusetts,” Senator Edward J. Markey said in a statement.


Head Start will receive a $1 billion funding boost nationwide, which would restore the cuts that were announced in March. The forced reductions affected low-income families in Massachusetts and other states who utilize the early childhood development program.

In the state, Head Start and Early Head Start provide about 16,000 preschoolers with a full day of learning in classrooms as well as other services to families who meet federal poverty guidelines.

As the 2013 school year began, 2,015 children in the state were projected to no longer qualify for services due to across-the-board spending cuts, the Globe reported in September. Those cuts marked the program’s largest funding hit since its creation in 1965, according to the nonprofit National Head Start Association.

The omnibus spending measure also would give $22.2 million to the Alcator C-Mod facility at MIT, which examines nuclear fusion as a potential energy source. The long-running research experiment was planning to cease its operation because of heavy budget cuts.

In fiscal year 2013, the program’s funding was first reduced from $25 million to $14 million. MIT stopped accepting graduate students into the program in March 2012.

The bill also will help MIT, Harvard, and other research universities with its inclusion of $7.1 billion for National Science Foundation funding. NSF is an independent federal agency that funds about 20 percent of all federally supported basic research in American colleges.

The National Institutes of Health, the world’s largest funder of medical research, would receive $29.9 billion. In 2012, Boston drew the highest NIH funding out of any city in the nation, securing total grants of $1.78 billion.


In October, Senator Elizabeth Warren said the agency “drives economic growth in the United States” and called for doubling federal funding of scientific and biomedical research.

Under the spending bill, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration office in Gloucester will remain open. The provision would save more than 200 jobs, Tierney said on Tuesday.

The budget measure was released by House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers, the Kentucky Republican, and his Senate counterpart Barbara Mikulski, the Maryland Democrat.

The bill contains trade-offs for both Democrats and Republicans as it fills in the details of the budget deal Congress passed last month. That agreement came after a 16-day shutdown of many government agencies in October.

Another shutdown was expected to occur midnight Wednesday if Congress did not pass new spending authority.

Kimberly Railey can be reached at kimberly.railey@globe.com .