Barletta Supports Legislation to Keep Government Open
WASHINGTON – Today the U.S. House of Representatives voted on a package (House amendment to the Senate amendment to H.R. 1370) to keep the government open through January 19, 2018. Federal programs would be funded at current levels, but additional funding would be provided for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) and the Veterans Choice Program. The measure also temporarily extends government surveillance programs. Rep. Lou Barletta (PA-11) voted in favor of this legislation, which passed by a vote of 231 to 188.
“Congress has a responsibility to ensure our government remains open,” Barletta said following the vote. “Despite historic obstruction, we followed through on our responsibility to the American people to keep the lights on and fund national defense, critical health care programs for our children and communities, and anti-terror programs. When we return next year, I hope, and expect, the Senators who have stood on a platform of obstruction to return with a new year’s resolution which stands behind the American people. Blindly fighting President Trump because of personal vendettas does nothing for our constituents. No matter who is in the White House, I will always work past personalities for my constituents.”
Specifically, the measure would provide $4.49 billion in emergency funding requested by the president on November 6, 2018, for “missile defense and defeat enhancements” primarily targeting North Korea. The emergency funding would also include $673.5 million to cover the cost of repairing damage to two Navy ships, USS John S. McCain and USS Fitzgerald.
The bill would also provide $2.85 billion for CHIP since funding for the program expired on September 30, 2017. In early November, House Republicans passed a bill to provide five years of funding for CHIP, but Senate Democrats refused to take up the measure, leaving millions of American children, including 290,000 in Pennsylvania, vulnerable to funding shortfalls. Community health centers, the National Health Service Corps, the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education Program, the Special Diabetes Program, and the Special Diabetes Program for Indians also receive additional funding to ensure continued operation.
Finally, the legislation would provide $2.1 billion in mandatory funding to extend the Veterans Choice Program, which allows eligible veterans to seek medical services outside of the Veterans Affairs (VA) Department. Veterans can qualify for outside care if they live more than 40 miles from a VA facility, have to wait more than 30 days for an appointment, or can’t travel to the nearest facility without a travel burden.