WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.) released the following statement after voting in favor of the Senate-passed Bipartisan Budget Act. The legislation establishes spending levels for fiscal years 2018 and 2019, funds the government through March 23, and provides additional funding for several priorities Blunt has advocated for on behalf of Missouri families.
“The Bipartisan Budget Act provides the level of defense funding we need to keep our military strong and our country safe,” Blunt said. “The measure also includes additional resources that will save lives and strengthen communities, like a two-year extension and funding increase for community health centers, additional funding for opioid-related programs, and funding for disaster relief and infrastructure investments. With this agreement in place, I look forward to continuing our work to fund the government and make sure every dollar we spend reflects the priorities of the people we work for.”
Following Are Blunt-Backed Missouri Priorities Included in the Bipartisan Budget Act:
- Community Health Centers: The measure reauthorizes community health centers funding for two years with a $600 million increase. More than half a million Missourians, many of whom are uninsured or on Medicaid, rely on community health centers for quality, affordable health care. Earlier this week, Blunt and U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow (Mich.) led 65 of their Senate colleagues in calling for immediate funding for community health centers, and previously authored bipartisan legislation to extend funding for community health centers.
- Opioid Epidemic: The budget agreement provides an additional $6 billion in opioid-related funding over the next two years. As chairman of the Senate appropriations subcommittee that funds the Department of Health and Human Services, Blunt has led efforts to increase funding for opioid-related programs by nearly $760 million – a 1,300 percent increase – over the past two years. In a recent USA Today op-ed with U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.), Blunt outlined the steps necessary to combat the opioid epidemic.
- National Institutes of Health (NIH): The Bipartisan Budget Act increases NIH funding by another $1 billion each year for the next two years. After securing two consecutive $2 billion funding increases for NIH, the funding included in the budget agreement will pave the way for a third major increase in the next omnibus appropriations bill.
- Infrastructure & Rural Broadband: The bill includes $20 billion in funding for new infrastructure investments, including resources to expand rural broadband. Blunt is leading efforts to end the digital divide, which will increase competitiveness for farmers, ranchers, and small businesses, improve education, and expand access to telemedicine.
- Disaster Recovery: The bill provides more than $17 billion in Corps of Engineers funding for construction and repair of flood control projects, and an additional $941 million in U.S. Department of Agriculture emergency funds for watershed, flood prevention, and conservation activities. The funding will help Missouri recover from previous flooding and mitigate against future damages.
- Houses of Worship: The legislation includes Blunt’s Federal Disaster Assistance Nonprofit Fairness Act, which would make houses of worship permanently eligible for Federal Emergency Management Agency Public Assistance program grants.
- Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV) Program: The bill reauthorizes the MIECHV program for five years. Home visiting programs, such as Parents as Teachers, have a demonstrated success rate of improving outcomes for maternal, newborn, and infant health, reducing child abuse, promoting school readiness, and furthering academic achievement for parents. Blunt previously cosponsored the Strong Families Act to reauthorize the MIECHV program.
- Independent Payment Advisory Board: The measure repeals Obamacare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board.
- CHIP Extension: The Bipartisan Budget Act includes an additional four-year authorization for the Children’s Health Insurance Program, bringing the total authorization to 10 years when combined with the short-term government funding bill signed into law last month.