Langevin Votes in Support of 2018 Government Funding Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) voted today in favor of the “Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2018,” legislation that will fund the government through September 30. The bill, which passed the House by a vote of 256-167, heads to the Senate where it will be considered in advance of tomorrow’s funding deadline.

“At long last, Republicans have joined Democrats at the negotiating table to produce an overwhelmingly bipartisan agreement to fund vital government programs,” said Langevin, a senior member of the House Armed Services and Homeland Security Committees. “Like any compromise, this bill is not perfect, but I’m proud of the investments it makes in our domestic and national security priorities. Rhode Islanders will benefit from substantial increases to early childhood and education funding, more support for lifesaving biomedical research, and continued funding for environmental programs that keep our air clean and our water safe.”

The Consolidated Appropriations Act provides specific agency funding based on the budget agreement reached last month, which raised statutory spending caps by $80 billion for defense and $63 billion for domestic programs in 2018. The bill increases funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant program to its highest level in history and provides an additional $610 million for Head Start. There are broad increases for basic scientific research, including $3 billion for the National Institutes of Health and $295 million for the National Science Foundation. As outlined in the budget agreement, the bill provides $3.2 billion in immediate support to respond to the opioid crisis gripping the nation.

“Rhode Island has been hit hard by opioid overdoses, and this agreement will ensure people struggling with addiction and their families have the support they need,” continued Langevin. “Rhode Island also stands to benefit from a new election security grant program similar to that proposed in the PAPER Act that I introduced with my Republican colleague, Mark Meadows. I am similarly pleased that the bill includes much-needed increases to career and technical education funding that will pay immediate dividends to Rhode Island students.”

Rhode Island is expected to receive $3 million in grant money to help secure state election systems. Langevin, who served as a member of the Congressional Task Force on Election Security, has consistently advocated for support to states in response to Russian interference during the 2016 campaign. As co-chair of the Congressional Career and Technical Education Caucus, Langevin has also been a strong voice for CTE programs, which largely benefit from the agreement. Funding for the Perkins Act, the primary federal CTE program, is increased by $75 million, and apprenticeships (+$50 million) and Job Corps (+$15 million) will also see additional support. The bill makes important policy changes regarding college affordability by raising the maximum Pell Grant award by $175 and for the first time providing discretionary funding for public service loan forgiveness.

“Protecting our nation and our brave service members is always a top priority of mine and this bill ensures that they will be able to provide for their families with a 2.4 percent pay increase,” said Langevin. “Our submarine force, which is a core pillar of our defensive posture, is fully supported reflecting a continued appreciation for the work of the talented Rhode Islanders, particularly at Quonset Point, who are hard at work building these vessels. The bill also makes needed investments in the future defense of our nation by funding cyber operations and emerging new technologies like electromagnetic railgun.”

Despite the objections of Democrats, the legislation does not include any fix for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, who have been in limbo ever since President Trump canceled the program last fall. Negotiators also failed to reach agreement on measures to stabilize health insurance markets even as steep premium increases are predicted later this year due to Republican efforts to sabotage the Affordable Care Act.

“Republicans’ refusal to provide relief for dreamers is a heartless play to the most extreme members of their base,” said Langevin. “Speaker Ryan must bring the DREAM Act to the floor immediately to protect these young people from deportation. He must also advance measures like the bill I introduced, the Individual Health Insurance Marketplace Improvement Act, to stop health care premiums from soaring. Finally, while the bill makes necessary changes to strengthen background checks for gun purchases, much more must be done to address the nation’s gun violence epidemic. Congress is six months late in finishing the budget, and it needs to move quickly to tackle these and other pressing issues.”