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Simpson Votes to Support Military, Idaho Schools, and Regular Order in Congress

Congress passes annual funding bills for DOD, HHS, Education, with funding for Impact Aid and A-10’s

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Washington, September 26, 2018 | comments

Washington, D.C. - Significant progress was made Wednesday in Congressional Republicans’ efforts to return the annual federal appropriations process to regular order.  Nearly one week before the end of the fiscal year, the House of Representatives approved the Conference Report for H.R. 6157, which includes the Department of Defense (DOD) and Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations bills for Fiscal Year (FY) 2019, as well as a short term “continuing resolution” to fund the government until all 12 appropriations bills for FY 2019 can be signed into law.  “Regular order” is an appropriations process which results in full year appropriations bills being signed into law before the end of the fiscal year. Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson, a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, voted in favor of the legislation which passed by a bipartisan vote of 361-61.

The Defense Appropriations title of the bill contains a total of $674.4 billion in funding for defense and security agencies, consistent with the National Defense Authorization Act of 2019. 

“H.R. 6157 represents a critical, positive step forward in rebuilding our military,” said Simpson.  “The American people rely on our men and women in uniform to protect us at home and abroad, and it’s only right that we uphold our end of the bargain by ensuring that they have the resources they need to be ‘ready to fight tonight.’  For the first time in 20 years, the Department of Defense will have its full annual funding enacted before the end of the current fiscal year, and I am grateful to Defense Chairwoman Kay Granger and House Appropriations Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen for leading this bill over the finish line. The importance of passing this bill under regular order and the certainty it provides our troops can’t be emphasized enough.”

The Defense title increases base discretionary funding at the DOD by $17 billion over FY 2018.  The highlights from the bill include:

  • The largest pay raise for our troops in nine years at 2.6%;

  • $34 billion for the Defense Health Program, which funds cancer research, traumatic brain injury, psychological health research and more;

  • $65 million to upgrade the critical A-10 aircraft fleet, based in part at Gowen Field in Boise;

  • $2.3 billion to recruit and train more airmen and aircraft mechanics; and more.

 

The Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education title of the bill takes into account the unique challenges of federally impacted Americans by providing a much-needed funding increase to Federal Impact Aid. 

“Impact Aid is a vital program in Idaho where federally impacted school districts depend on its support to continue delivering a high-quality education to young Idahoans,” said Simpson.  “This bill also includes lifesaving research funding for the National Institutes of Health and truly historic levels of funding to combat the opioid crisis.  I have often said that NIH is the best kept secret, and the American people need to know that their tax dollars are going towards research that leads to cures for the most complex diseases we face.”

The Labor-H title also provides:

  • $1.06 billion for Federal TRIO programs to support college-bound veterans and first-generation and low-income students;

  • $1.4 billion for Federal Impact Aid to provide support and relief for school districts affected by the presence of tax-exempt federal lands or federally-connected students;

  • $39 billion to support the lifesaving research work of the National Institutes of Health, a $2 billion increase over fiscal year 2018.  This includes funding for key initiatives such as finding cures for cancer, Alzheimer’s, and diabetes, and;

  • An unprecedented $6.7 billion to help combat the opioid crisis through treatment and prevention efforts. Much of this funding is directed towards the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to improve addiction and recovery programs.

     

H.R. 6157 passed in the Senate on September 18, 2018, and will now head to President Trump’s desk to be signed into law.  His signature will mark the completion of five appropriations bills on time which accounts for roughly 80% of total discretionary spending.  The first three, Energy and Water Development (authored by Congressman Simpson), Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Legislative Branch appropriations were signed into law on September 21, 2018. 

 

“While Congress certainly does not deserve trophies for doing our job, I am pleased that Republicans are leading a return to regular order and achieving the most progress in regards to annual appropriations in over a decade,” Simpson said.  “The power of the purse is one of Congress’ most important Constitutional duties, and the completion of these five bills on time underscores Republicans’ commitment to transparency and responsible governance.” 

 

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