WASHINGTON, DC – This morning, after Congress passed a bipartisan budget agreement, ending an hours-long government shutdown and clearing a path for major investments in both defense and domestic programs, U.S. Senator Jack Reed, a senior member of both the Appropriations and Armed Services Committees, issued the following statement:

“Congressional Republicans have thwarted commonsense efforts to adequately meet our country’s domestic and defense needs.  They continued that trend with an unsound tax bill focused on the wealthy and most powerful corporations.  The American people deserve better.

“Over the last year, President Trump and the Republican Congress have shifted greater burdens onto middle-class families while shrinking support for critical priorities like education, innovation, health care, and job training.  Their partisan tax bill eliminated tax deductions that middle-class Rhode Island families and small businesses have relied upon in favor of bigger tax benefits for multinational corporations and the wealthy few.  The American people deserve better.

“The bipartisan budget framework passed today isn’t perfect, but it is a pragmatic step toward breaking the cycle of short-term budgeting and offers an opportunity to provide some much needed certainty and stability.

“I am pleased this bill lays the groundwork to fund strategic priorities in the bipartisan National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that Senator McCain and I authored.  It will enhance military readiness and help us meet evolving national security challenges now and in the future.  It includes over $89 billion in disaster relief funding.  It also enables us to fund the FBI, State Department, Coast Guard, and other agencies that are essential to the security of the American people.  And it will help us provide grants and other assistance to support our police, firefighters, public schools, and other state and local services.  Without these resources, states and localities would be cutting back on services or raising taxes.

“Rhode Island will benefit from several key provisions in this bipartisan agreement, which includes overdue funding for Community Health Centers and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP).  It includes an additional $20 billion over a two-year period to support federal infrastructure investments that will help improve roads and bridges, transit, and water systems.  There is $6 billion for treatment, recovery, and prevention programs to address the opioid epidemic and support mental health services.  It also supports priorities such as providing child care assistance to low- and moderate-income families, college affordability, and medical research.  We were also able to include resources to help improve VA clinics and hospitals.

“We need to get the government working for the American people again, and in order to do that, Congress must start providing stronger oversight and accountability.  I will work with my colleagues on the Appropriations Committee to wisely allocate these resources in a way that ensures America has a strong national defense and a strong economy that benefits the middle-class.”

Reed noted that highlights of the bipartisan budget agreement include:

Extending funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for a total of ten years

  • $89.3 billion in disaster relief funding
  • $20 billion toward infrastructure, including highways, water, wastewater, and rural broadband
  • $7 billion in funding and a two-year reauthorization for Community Health Centers
  • $6 billion in funding toward opioid and mental health treatment
  • $5.8 billion toward the Child Care and Development Block Grant
  • $4 billion toward the Veterans Administration to rebuild and improve veterans hospitals and clinics
  • $4 billion toward college affordability programs
  • $2 billion toward research at the National Institutes of Health
  • Creating a Joint Select Committee to Solve the Multiemployer Pension Crisis