Washington, D.C. - U.S. Senator Susan Collins released a statement following her vote in support of the bipartisan budget agreement. This legislation also includes: an extension of funding for the Federal Government through March 23; $90 billion in disaster supplemental funding for recent hurricanes and wildfires; and funding for a number of priority programs.
“This bipartisan budget agreement, negotiated by the Senate Republican and Democratic leaders, is by no means perfect, but it represents a significant step in the right direction. This legislation will end the meat-ax, across-the-board cuts in federal programs that would have otherwise occurred under sequestration. Such cuts represent an abdication of Congress’s responsibility to set priorities, and create serious and harmful uncertainty that inhibits planning and increases costs.
“Our armed forces, in particular, have been damaged by inadequate and temporary funding patches that have undermined the readiness of our military. For example, last year, only three of the Army’s 58 brigade combat teams were ready to fight in an immediate conflict; fewer than 50 percent of Navy aircraft were ready to fly; and on any given day, nearly a third of the Air Force’s aircraft were out of commission. This legislation not only cancels the devastating cuts that would have occurred under sequestration, but also provides additional and vitally important funding for our military. According to Secretary of Defense James Mattis, the effect of failing to enact a full defense spending bill would mean our armed forces would not be paid by the end of the year, some of our military aircraft would be grounded, maintenance and construction of our Naval fleet would be slowed, and recruitment of soldiers and airmen and women for much needed units would not go forward.
“In addition, the bipartisan budget agreement prioritizes the following for FY18 and FY19:
- $6 billion to combat the opioid epidemic;
- $4 billion to reduce the veterans’ health care backlog;
- $2 billion for biomedical research at the National Institutes of Health;
- $600 million for the Special Diabetes Program, which includes funding for Type 1 Diabetes research and the Diabetes Program for Indians;
- $253 million over two-years for the Teaching Health Centers Graduate Medical Education Program, which trains physicians in underserved, community-based settings and would have otherwise run out of money in March;
- $7.8 billion for Community Health Centers, which otherwise would have run out of money in March. More than 200,000 Mainers are served by CHCs across 130 sites of care;
- $20 billion for infrastructure, including for rural broadband and wastewater treatment;
- $4 billion for programs like Pell Grants that support students pursuing a higher education; and
- An additional four-year extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program, bringing the total extension to 10-years.
“This bipartisan agreement represents progress and gives us the tools to complete action and fund vital programs for the remainder of FY 2018. Moving forward, the Senate should return to the days when funding bills were approved prior to the start of the fiscal year on October 1, thus preventing disruption, waste, and inefficiencies.”