Langevin Supports Defense, Labor, Health and Education Government Funding Package

Sep 26, 2018 Issues: Armed Services, Budget, Education, Health Care

WASHINGTON - Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI), a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, voted today in favor of H.R. 6157, the legislative vehicle to fund the federal government during the fiscal year that begins October 1, 2018. The bill contains funding for the Departments of Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education. It is the second so-called “minibus” appropriations package passed by Congress this fiscal year following the passage of H.R. 5895 on September 13, 2018. H.R. 6157, which has already passed the Senate, passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 361-61.

“I hope this bill represents the beginning of a return to regular order,” said Langevin. “This compromise legislation reflects both Democratic and Republican priorities, providing for both our national defense and Rhode Island families. It also represents a rejection of the President’s cruel budget that would limit healthcare access for millions of Americans and increase the debt burden of college students.”

On the defense side, the bill provides for a 2.6 percent pay raise for troops, as originally authorized in the defense policy bill that Langevin helped author earlier this year. It further increases funding to assist victims of military sexual assault and ensure they have access to counseling and due process of law. It also continues investments in Rhode Island through the acquisition of two additional Virginia class submarines.

“Rhode Island’s defense industry is a core pillar of our state’s economy,” said Langevin. “The submarines we manufacture are the pride of the fleet and are essential to our maintaining naval superiority above and below the waves. I am pleased the final defense package will continue to grow our fleet of Virginia class subs while also continuing to lay the groundwork for the next generation Columbia class submarines as the third leg of our nuclear triad. As the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Emerging Threats and Capabilities, I am also proud of the investments we are making in our cyber forces to better protect the country in cyberspace and in transitioning new technologies to protect our soldiers.”

Domestically, the appropriations package increases funding by $2 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the largest funder of basic medical research in the country. Reflecting deep Congressional concern about the opioid overdose epidemic, which continues to devastate Rhode Island communities and families, it provides $100 million in additional support for opioid treatment and prevention programs. The legislation also follows up successful passage of the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act, which Langevin coauthored, by adding $70 million to these vital skills training programs.

“The Strengthening CTE for the 21st Century Act I co-led with my Republican colleague, Congressman Glenn “GT” Thompson, lays the groundwork for increased collaboration between industry and schools to ensure employers have access to the skilled workforce they need,” continued Langevin, who co-chairs the House Career and Technical Education Caucus. “This bill builds upon that success with robust investments in CTE that will pay immediate dividends by helping to close the skills gap that is hurting Rhode Island businesses. It contains important language I fought for that directs the Secretary of Education to maintain a dedicated Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education and to protect programs for students learning English. It also directly rebukes the Administration for anti-child policies including the heartbreaking separation of children from their parents at the border, and it requires a clear family reunification plan be provided to Congress.”

In addition to the two appropriations bills, H.R. 6157 also contains a continuing resolution that level funds the remainder of the government through December 7. Although five of the twelve annual spending bills have now passed Congress, the continuing resolution is necessary to prevent a partial government shutdown on October 1.

“Members of Congress are ready to do their jobs and responsibly fund the government,” said Langevin. “Unfortunately, the President’s myopic insistence on building a costly, ineffective border wall means that much of our job still remains undone. I hope that he will finally cease his fixation on this project that will simply not increase our border security and work with Congress to craft sensible legislation that improves effective programs and trims those that need a course correction. Running the government on autopilot is a disservice to Rhode Islanders, and we must move beyond this constant fiscal uncertainty.”

With today’s passage in the House, H.R. 6157 moves to the White House, where the President is expected to sign it later this week.