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Courtney on Budget Deal

(February 9, 2018) WASHINGTON, DC—Early this morning, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02) voted for the bipartisan budget agreement that was reached to avoid a government shutdown and provide a two-year framework for funding the federal government. The agreement will increase funding for a number of key non-defense discretionary programs like communities health centers and the opioid crisis, while also increasing military funding to help meet strategic needs globally, such as the increased aggression by Russia, China, and North Korea. The final vote was 240 to 186.
“For more than a year, the lack of a budget agreement has repeatedly brought Congress to the brink of shutdown and a near permanent stalemate over a range of important issues,” said Courtney. “When I voted for the continuing resolution in January to reopen the government, I did so with the expectation that House and Senate leaders would negotiate a bipartisan agreement to end the stalemate and allow us to finish the job of funding our defense and domestic priorities. The agreement I supported today, however imperfect, does just that.”
“With this agreement in place, Congress should move quickly to debate and pass legislation that will provide a path to citizenship for the Dreamers,” Courtney added. “President Trump, Speaker Ryan, and Senate Majority leader McConnell have all repeatedly and publicly stated their intent to help Dreamers – and the American people expect them to follow through on their commitments. Now that we have set aside the overarching budget crisis, we will hold their feet to the fire and ensure that they keep their pledge to bring a Dreamers fix to the floor for an up or down vote. History and the entire nation will be watching.”
Key provisions contained in the bipartisan agreement:
  • Budget Caps: Eliminates across the board “sequestration” budget cuts and increases the budget caps for defense and non-defense programs for two years.
  • Defense funding: lifts defense budget caps to provide overall funding levels consistent with the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act passed late last year.
  • Community Health Centers: Extends and increases funding for Community Health Centers for 2 years from $3.6 billion per year to $3.8 billion in 2018 and $4 billion in 2019.
  • Children’s Health Insurance Program: Further extends the funding for CHIP for an additional 4 years, funding the program through 2027.
  • Opioids: $6 billion in funding to prevent and treat opioid addiction.
  • Dairy Farms: invests $1 billion to support small and mid-sized dairy farms, and includes needed reforms to improve affordability and stability of the Margin Protection Program (MPP).
  • Veterans Health: allocates $4 billion ($2 billion each year) for improvements to VA hospitals and clinics to help reduce the VA healthcare maintenance backlog.
  • Closing the “Donut Hole”: Closes the Medicare Part D “Donut Hole” a year early, saving seniors thousands on prescription drugs.
  • National Health Service Corps: Extends funding for the National Health Service Corps for 2 years at the current rate of $310 million per year.
  • Medicare Dependent Hospitals: Extends the Medicare Dependent Hospital program for 5 years to ensure hospitals like Windham are reimbursed appropriately.
  • Home Visiting Program: Extends funding for the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program for 2 years.
  • Mortgage Debt Forgiveness Deduction: Retroactively extends the deduction for income from mortgage debt forgiven through 2017.
  • Disaster Relief: Provides $89 billion in disaster relief funding for areas hit by last year’s hurricanes and wildfires, as well as additional support for Puerto Rico’s recovery.