Sen. Whitehouse Statement on President’s Budget

Washington, DC – President Obama today delivered his budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2017 to Congress. U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), a member of the Senate Budget Committee, released the statement below on the President’s proposal:

“President Obama’s budget includes a number of priorities I’ve been fighting for in the Senate, most notably putting a price on the significant health and environmental costs of carbon pollution, through the per-barrel fee on oil companies. And it continues to promote American leadership in clean-energy research and development. It demonstrates the President’s commitment to ending the epidemic of prescription drug and heroin abuse. It would strengthen Pell Grants so more Americans can get the education they need to land a good job, and create an automatic IRA program to help millions save for retirement. I was also glad to see funding included for the National Oceans and Coastal Security Fund, a resource for infrastructure, restoration, and research to protect our oceans and coastal communities, which I worked to establish.

“The President’s budget is the first step in the annual process, set forth in the Congressional Budget Act, by which the Legislative and Executive Branches work to establish short- and long-term policy and fiscal goals. Even if the Budget Committee isn’t going to hold hearings on this plan, it remains an important document in our process and I thank the President for presenting his vision for the coming years.”

Background

Whitehouse introduced the American Opportunity Carbon Fee Act, an economy-wide fee on carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions to reduce carbon pollution, shore up the fiscal outlook, and unleash new technology and clean energy.

The Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, introduced by Whitehouse and Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), would provide a series of incentives and resources designed to encourage states and local communities to pursue a full array of proven strategies to combat addiction. These include prevention and educational efforts, prescription drug monitoring programs, evidence-based opioid and heroin treatment and interventions programs, and the use of naloxone by first responders to reverse overdose.

Whitehouse’s Automatic IRA Act would automatically deposit payroll contributions into IRAs for workers without access to retirement plans. It also would mandate employers with 10 or more workers to participate, assuming workers don’t opt out. Employers mandated to participate could receive tax credits to defray the costs of setting up the accounts.

Whitehouse’s National Oceans and Coastal Security Act, passed at the end of 2015, established a fund to support research on coastal communities across the country and provide grants to strengthen infrastructure critical to coastal economies. It also supports work to restore coastal habitats, manage fisheries, and plan for sustainable coastal development.

Whitehouse and the Democratic members of the Budget Committee signed a letter led by Ranking Member Bernie Sanders (I-VT) expressing dismay over Chairman Mike Enzi’s (R-WY) decision not to hold a hearing on the President’s budget request. Read the full text of the letter here.

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