On March 27, 2019, the CEO Council for Growth submitted the highest priority appropriations request to our regional congressional delegation in the following letter. Federal investment in key areas of our economy ensures tremendous economic return, innovations, and breakthroughs that will provide for a better quality of life on a regional and national scale.

Dear Regional Congressional Delegation Member:

As Congressional Appropriations Subcommittees collect submissions from Members of Congress for consideration in the Fiscal Year 2020 Appropriations Bills, we respectfully submit to you our region’s highest priority appropriations requests as determined by the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia and its initiative, the CEO Council for Growth (CEO Council). We believe that federal investment in these sectors of our regional economy ensures tremendous economic return as well as innovations and breakthroughs that will provide for a better quality of life not only for the residents of southeastern Pennsylvania, southern New Jersey, and northern Delaware but the nation as a whole.

Together, the Chamber and its CEO Council influence regional and national policy through advocacy for the improvement of the region’s transportation infrastructure, availability of a top notch workforce, and the development of a more vibrant culture of entrepreneurship and business growth. We continue to leverage our direct engagement of private sector and higher education research institution leadership to advance regional projects, advocate for critical federal policies, and support key sector initiatives.

We recognize that sustained investments in many of the areas listed below are only possible if the statutory caps imposed by the Budget Control Act of 2011 are addressed by Congress. We urge you to work together to reach a bipartisan budget agreement that will raise the FY2020 defense and non-defense discretionary spending caps so that the current appropriations process can proceed. Raising spending caps in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 allowed for thoughtful progress toward a predictable budget process, paving the way for Congress to work across the aisle to address key federal investments that fuel economic growth.

We hope you will consider the following FY2020 requests for inclusion in your office submissions to congressional appropriators:

Innovation & Business Growth

  • Sustained growth above inflationary rates in federal funding for basic and translational research. Additionally, Congress should consider language submissions that discontinue the practice of avoiding risk-averse research grants that may overlook innovative research projects that could lead to future massive breakthroughs in science and technology.
    • $41.6 billion funding for the National Institutes of Health, which will continue to support our region’s leading health care research. The Greater Philadelphia Region is primed to be a global leader in the development of health care innovations and breakthroughs that are leading to the next generation of health care solutions. The FY2019 enacted level was $39.1 billion.
    • Ensure appropriations to the innovation fund authorized by the 21st Century Cures Act, which supports the Beau Biden Cancer Moonshot, the All of Us research initiative, and the Brain Research through Application of Innovative Neurotechnologies initiative.
    • Sustained Department of Defense funding for research, development, testing, and evaluation of new defense technologies that will help to support current military operations and to prepare our nation to meet a broad range of future security threats.
  • Increase funding allocation of agencies’ Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs, which encourages small businesses to engage in research and development that has the potential for commercialization.
    • Expand the definition of eligible recipients to include organizations that facilitate and accelerate commercialization of technologies that are developed at research institutions.

Education and Workforce Development

  • $10 million for the Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) STEM Apprenticeship Program which has been authorized by Congress but has not yet received the funding necessary to establish this important effort. Enabling EDA to connect talent with workforce needs through the STEM Apprenticeship Program would provide opportunities for Americans in need of 21st century careers while supporting innovation and start-up creation across the nation.
  • Increase the maximum Pell Grant award which provides need-based grants to low-income students, increasing access to postsecondary education while reducing the need for borrowing. The maximum Pell grant award for 2019-20 school year is currently $6,195.
    • Expand Pell Grant eligibility for students enrolled in short-term, workforce-oriented programs. Short-term workforce development programs allow students to quickly and cost-efficiently increase their skill levels and earning potentials.
  • $400 million in funding for the Children’s Hospitals Graduate Medical Education Payment Program, which ensures children’s access to high-quality medical care by providing freestanding children’s hospitals with funding to support the training of pediatric providers. This program helps create the workforce needed to meet the increased demands for pediatric patient care. The FY2019 enacted level was $325 million.
  • Increased funding for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) to $495 million in Fiscal Year FY2022. This two-year advanced appropriation is critical to public media’s mission to provide unique services in the areas of education, public safety, and civic leadership. The FY2021 annual advance appropriation was $465 million.

Regional Mobility

  • Funding for federal transit programs and highway programs authorized by the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act at the highest possible levels. Increased appropriations would reduce costs from deferred maintenance and revitalize transportation infrastructure.
  • $500 million in funding for the Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair program, a grant program authorized by the FAST Act, dedicated to repairing and replacing existing passenger rail assets along Amtrak’s northeast corridor. The corridor’s rail infrastructure will fail without major investment which would bring severe economic harm not only in the northeast, but also throughout the nation. The FY2019 enacted level was $400 million.
  • Funding for Capital Investment Grants (CIG) program at or above the levels authorized in the FAST Act. These funds help transit systems expand and grow to meet the increasing demand for service through implementation of New Starts, Small Starts, and Core Capacity projects. Communities across the country are raising state and local funding for well-designed projects that cannot be developed without adequate investment thought the federal partnership.


  • Increased defense appropriations for equipment procurement which will provide for base requirements, equipment and upgrades. Investment in our nation’s military readiness will provide the necessary platforms, weapons, and equipment our military needs to train, maintain the force, and conduct successful operations.

Thank you for considering this request. If I can expand on any of the above items, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Rob Wonderling
President & CEO
The Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia