WASHINGTON, DC – Yesterday evening, U.S. Senator Jack Reed voted in favor of H.R. 8337, the Continuing Appropriations Act (CR) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021, which continues funding most federal programs and operations at current levels through December 11. 

At about 6:00 p.m. on September 30, the U.S. Senate approved the measure on a vote of 84-10, and it had previously passed the U.S. House of Representatives on September 23 by a vote of 359-57.  The bill became law this morning, after President Trump failed to sign it before the midnight deadline, leading to a very brief lapse in U.S. spending authority.  However, the one hour lapse did not have a major impact on government services because the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) never ordered federal agencies to cease operations.

Senator Reed says the stop-gap spending measure was needed to prevent a wasteful government shutdown that would have ground government to a halt in the midst of a pandemic.

While the temporary spending measure simply continues most programs at current spending levels for the next ten weeks, Senator Reed, a senior member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense and the Ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development and Related Agencies (THUD), helped secure several key victories for Rhode Island in the final package, including:

•  Apportioned funding ($1.6 billion) and authority for the U.S. Navy to move forward with construction of the first two Columbia-class submarines, which support thousands of jobs in Rhode Island. 

•  Additional $8 billion in nutrition assistance for vulnerable school children and their families and an extension of vital program waivers for Pandemic-EBT, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), and Women’s Infants and Children (WIC) through September 30, 2021;

•  Extension through September 30, 2021, for the National Flood Insurance Program.

•  Extension of FAST Act programs to continue funding highway, transit, and rail programs at no less than FY 20 levels.  Rhode Island received $278 million under these programs last year.

•  Infusion of $14 billion to stabilize the Airport and Airways Trust Fund, which is administered by the Federal Aviation Administration for safety and infrastructure projects.

•  Extensions of several key health programs, such as a provision to prevent Medicaid cuts to hospitals that serve high percentages of low-income Americans, and funding for community health centers, the National Health Service Corps.

“This bill averts a disastrous government shutdown for a few weeks, but it would be a mistake to see it as anything but a symptom of the President’s leadership failure when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic.  As states, cities and towns, school systems, hospitals, and families all ask for assistance and leadership from the federal government, Congressional Republicans have been content to allow President Trump to mismanage this crisis,” said Senator Reed, who noted that Senate Republicans have yet to take floor action on any of the twelve fiscal year 2021 spending bills in order to block Democrats from offering measures to address the COVID-19 pandemic, racial injustice, and other key issues.

Senator Reed urged Republicans to work with Democrats on a bipartisan omnibus spending package that is completed ahead of the new December 11 deadline.