Barletta Details Highlights of Government Funding Bill
WASHINGTON – Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11) today detailed highlights of the bill to fund the federal government for the remaining five months of the 2017 fiscal year. While the current makeup of the Senate and the delay in confirming the president’s team limited the options of what to include in the spending package, Barletta claimed victory on a number of priorities, including strengthening our border security, rebuilding our military, permanently extending retired coal workers’ health care benefits, and restoring funding to programs important to Pennsylvania residents that faced massive cuts.
“As with any spending bill that requires 60 votes in the Senate, the end result is not perfect,” Barletta said. “However, there are too many provisions in this bill that benefit Pennsylvanians to vote against it because it lacks certain things that I would have liked included.”
Barletta applauded the budget bill’s increased investments in our national security, which includes funding for the replacement of old fencing along the southern border and technology to help patrol areas unconducive to a fence or wall, as well as boosts to our military.
“I am pleased that this bill includes the largest funding increase to our nation’s border security technologies and infrastructure improvements in more than a decade,” Barletta said. “It also reverses the former administration’s disastrous cuts to our defense budget and invests in our veterans. The president promised to rebuild our military and take care of our veterans, and this budget does just that.”
Barletta scored a win for the residents of central and northeastern Pennsylvania by helping to restore funding to local programs that faced massive proposed cuts, including the 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC), which provides federal funding for afterschool programs like SHINE, Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), and Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
“I successfully fought to restore funding for programs like SHINE, CDBG, and LIHEAP, after repeatedly communicating to the administration and leaders in Congress their importance to our local communities back home,” Barletta said. “Not only did we prevent cuts to these programs, but I was able to secure a $25 million funding increase for 21st CCLC, which provides nearly half of SHINE’s funding. The bill also takes care of our retired coal miners by permanently funding their health care benefits. Taken together, these are huge wins for students and working families in our part of Pennsylvania and across the Commonwealth.”
The budget bill also increased funding to help address the heroin and opioid epidemic, one of Barletta’s top priorities.
“As heroin and opioid abuse continues to impact families across Pennsylvania, I could not walk away from the $781 million increase over last year’s funding for addressing this problem,” Barletta added. “Overall, this bill reflects my commitment to putting the safety and security of the American people first and continues federal support for important programs that benefit the residents of the 11th District.”
A partial list of victories include:
Border Security and Illegal Immigration
- $1.5 billion for enhanced border security, the largest increase for border security technologies and infrastructure in more than a decade.
- A $20 million increase in funding for immigration courts, which will allow for 10 new immigration judge teams.
- $12.2 billion for Customs and Border Protection, a $911 million increase over last year.
- An increase in the number of detention beds from 34,000 to 39,324 to hold federal detainees, including criminal illegal immigrants, effectively ending the practice of “catch and release.”
- Funds the repair and replacement of old border wall fencing.
- Allows the administration to continue enforcing immigration laws, including those which withhold certain federal grant funding to sanctuary cities, and continues the government’s ability to designate jurisdictions as “sanctuaries” or develop regulations governing such jurisdictions.
- Reauthorizes E-Verify.
Military and Veterans
- Increases defense funding by over $25 billion over last year and $16.3 billion above the Obama Administration’s budget request.
- Contains $15 billion in new funding requested by the Trump Administration.
- Stops the Obama Administration’s cuts to our military personnel levels by including $1.6 billion above their request for increased end strength.
- Provides $132.3 billion for military personnel and fully funds their 2.1 percent pay raise.
- Enhances medical care and ensures full benefits for our troops, military families, and retirees by providing $34.1 billion for the Defense Health Program.
- Protects against cyberattacks by including $24 million above last year’s funding for research and development.
Addressing the Heroin and Opioid Epidemic
- $781 million increase over last year for grants, treatment and prevention, and support for law enforcement to fight against the nation’s heroin and opioid epidemic.
- Permanently extends health care benefits for retired coal miners.
- Provides more than $132 million for the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Fund, which allows for the restoration of land adversely affected by past coal mining.
SHINE, CDBG, LIHEAP
- Increases funding by $25 million for 21st CCLC, which funds SHINE.
- Continues funding for CDBG, which provides communities with resources to address a wide range of unique community development needs, and LIHEAP, which helps keep families safe and healthy through initiatives that assist families with energy costs, at 2016 levels.
Barletta criticized the process Congress followed to fund the government and called for a return to regular order, which requires individual spending bills to move through their respective committees in the House and Senate. For the past several years, Congress has funded the government through a series of continuing resolutions and “Omnibus” bills, which combine the individual spending bills into one massive bill to fund the government. He also reaffirmed his commitment to fighting to save funding for SHINE, CDBG, and LIHEAP, which have been zeroed-out in the administration’s proposed 2018 budget.
“I am hopeful that next year’s appropriations process will look much different than this year and allow for a transparent and thorough debate of our spending priorities,” Barletta said. “While we had to get the best bill that we could at this very moment, I will continue fighting for more of the president’s and my priorities for the 2018 fiscal year.”