Washington, DC – Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) released the following statement after voting in favor of the Fiscal Year 2017 Consolidated Appropriations Act (“omnibus”), which passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 309-118:
“More than seven months into the Fiscal Year, I am glad that we are responsibly funding the government with a bipartisan bill that supports programs vital to Rhode Island and the nation. This deal is long overdue and far from perfect, but it was made possible by Republicans and Democrats working together to reach a good-faith compromise and the President receding from his demand for investment in an unneeded and ineffective border wall. It is my firm hope that we will continue this spirit of bipartisanship across other areas of legislative activity – including the FY2018 budget, tax reform and efforts to rebuild our infrastructure – rather than return to the all-too-familiar pattern of unproductive partisanship.
“As a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, I take my responsibility to support our national defense very seriously, and the omnibus includes important initiatives to support our troops and enhance our security. The new Columbia class of ballistic missile submarines is fully funded allowing for development to quickly continue. The bill also includes an additional $85 million for advance procurement of Virginia class attack submarines. In addition to their foundational defense missions, both programs support thousands of jobs in Rhode Island and comprise an important part of an industry that contributes $3.7 billion to our state’s economy. The omnibus continues the ramp up of investment in our cyber defenses, with nearly $1 billion in additional support for Department of Defense cyberspace activities. It also provides a much-deserved pay raise for the men and women in uniform who devote their lives to protecting our nation.
“The omnibus includes increased funding for a number of domestic programs as well. Contrary to the President’s proposals to slash funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the bill increases funding by $2 billion to support biomedical research that underpins new treatments and cures while fueling our state’s economic development. It reinstates year-round Pell Grants, which will help lower-income students access educational opportunities. It also assists disadvantaged families in Rhode Island with their home heating by restoring $390 million in funding for the Low Income Heating Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and by preventing an additional $372 million cut proposed by the President. Further, the measure sustains $3 billion in funding for Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), which the Trump Administration had slated for drastic cuts; CDBG supports many important programs, including food pantries and Meals on Wheels, in Rhode Island.
“Of course this bill leaves much room for improvement. While it largely abides by the 2015 budget agreement, it does nothing to address the larger problem of sequestration, which continues to threaten our military readiness and the programs Americans rely on. Republicans’ reliance on budget gimmickry to help alleviate the pressure from sequestration is not sustainable; we need a permanent fix for the crushing caps implemented as part of the Budget Control Act. But, taken as a whole, the legislation demonstrates how the American people win when Republicans and Democrats work together. This bill – not the President’s drastic budget outline – should serve as a blueprint for a Fiscal Year 2018 funding measure and as the basis for further legislative compromise in the 115th Congress.”