Senator Collins' Statement On President's Budget Proposal

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Senator Susan Collins, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, issued the following statement on the President’s budget proposal:

“The President’s budget has both positive and negative aspects. On the positive side, he would end the mindless, across-the-board cuts known as sequestration which fail to set priorities. Unfortunately, however, rather than show fiscal responsibility and restraint, the President’s budget continues to add to our national debt at a rate where interest payments will increase to $800 billion a year by 2025 and will exceed spending on every program other than Social Security and Medicare. That alarming increase is unsustainable and should concern Democrats and Republicans alike.

“While the Administration is proposing to raise the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s overall budget by $4 billion next year, it would slash the Community Development Block Grant program by $200 million. This program provides critical support for local and state economic development and job creation efforts, and I will oppose this cut as the Chairman of the Transportation and Housing Appropriations Subcommittee. In addition to this cut, the budget eliminates additional funding for new Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (VASH) vouchers in the hope that veterans’ homelessness will end in 2015. The VASH program has been critical to reducing homelessness among our nation's veterans, and it is too early to determine if it has outlived its important purpose or yet achieved the goal of ending homelessness among our veterans.

“I agree with the President that we need to invest in infrastructure. Structurally deficient bridges and crumbling roads exist in virtually every state, particularly in large rural states like Maine subject to cold climates. These investments are critical to public safety and economic prosperity. I will carefully review the President’s request, including the funding mechanism he proposes.

“At a time when we are faced with serious national security challenges on several fronts, I am pleased that the President’s budget would continue funding for the DDG-1000 program and full funding for two DDG-51s, one of which is slated to be built at Bath Iron Works. I’m disappointed, however, that the President has yet again proposed another Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round, which doesn’t make sense for our national defense and has never achieved the promised savings for taxpayers in previous rounds of base closures.

“I am pleased that the President’s budget recognizes that investments in biomedical research not only improve the health and longevity of Americans, but also provides benefits to our economy as well. The Administration has proposed an additional $1 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Of this amount, the NIH projects it will spend $638 million on Alzheimer’s research, an increase of $51 million over 2015.Alzheimer’s is a devastating disease that exacts a tremendous personal and economic toll. In addition to the human suffering it causes, Alzheimer’s costs the United States more than $214 billion a year, including $150 billion in costs to Medicare and Medicaid. While the federal funding provided in the President’s budget does take an important step forward, I continue to believe that we need to do more.

“I will work with my colleagues in the Senate to develop a responsible budget that sets priorities while also ensuring that future generations are not burdened with unsustainable debt.”