U. S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) praised the bipartisan FY 2018 government funding agreement today. The House of Representatives passed the measure today and the Senate will vote this week. Following passage, it will go to President Trump for his signature.
“Months of in-depth, bicameral, bipartisan negotiations and committee work have led to this point. The result is legislation that neither side sees as perfect — but which contains a host of significant victories and important achievements on behalf of the American people,” Senator McConnell said. “The measure provides the largest year-on-year funding increase for our warfighters in 15 years, not to mention, new resources for the fight against opioids, increased border security and the president’s wall. Major enhancements for law enforcement and school safety are also included in the bill. These provisions, and the entirety of this omnibus legislation, represent months of bipartisan work.”
The legislation contains the following highlights that will benefit Kentucky:
Helping Combat the Opioid Epidemic
The bill provides $4.6 billion to fight the opioid epidemic, which is a $3 billion increase from last year’s funding level. The legislation will allow Kentucky to continue to address this problem in a comprehensive way through prevention, treatment, and enforcement. In addition, the bill increases funding for High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) to $280 million, which will be used to combat drug trafficking and production in Kentucky and across the country.
“This is a victory for families caught in the grip of the opioid epidemic. This bill scales up research, treatment and prevention funding and funds grants to first responders. It will confront the scourge of addiction head-on and help save lives,” Senator McConnell said. “For rural communities, like many in my home state of Kentucky, this is a big deal.”
Protecting Students, Communities
The measure provides more than $2 billion for the development of threat assessment and crisis intervention programs, and other school safety efforts to keep our kids and schools safe. At the insistence of Senator McConnell, the bill includes two important, bipartisan, and commonsense measures to address real issues facing the nation: the Fix NICS bill, which repairs and improves the criminal background checks system, and the STOP School Violence Act, which ensures lifesaving resources are available to states and schools to help prevent violence before it occurs.
“The legislation delivers for students and teachers across our nation, who deserve to learn and work without fear of violence,” Senator McConnell said. “The bill represents a major step forward for school safety. It provides millions of dollars in new funding for early intervention and prevention programs to help prevent school violence before it occurs. These grants will include funding for training students and school personnel to identify and respond to safety threats as well as for implementing enhanced technology and equipment to improve school security.”
Providing for our Servicemembers and Veterans
The legislation increases defense spending by $61 billion over FY 2017 levels – the biggest year-to-year increase in 15 years. It also funds the largest pay increase for our troops in eight years. In addition, the bill enhances funding for equipment and resources, and supports our men and women serving overseas and at our military installations here at home, including Kentucky’s Fort Knox, Fort Campbell, Blue Grass Army Depot, as well as with the Kentucky National Guard. It also provides record level funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to help ensure Kentucky veterans receive the care, benefits, and assistance they have earned.
“This bill will mark the end of disproportionate and harmful cuts to Department of Defense funding. It delivers the largest year-on-year increase in defense spending in fifteen years. These new funding levels will ensure the training and tools available to our servicemembers remain on the cutting edge,” Senator McConnell said. “Thanks to a record level of VA funding, it means our veterans back home, will see increased oversight and modernization in the Veterans’ Administration health care system, benefits, memorial services, opioid addiction treatment, caregiver services, and homeless assistance.”
Investing in America’s Infrastructure
The legislation provides more than $21 billion to fund our nation’s infrastructure projects to increase public safety and promote economic growth. This funding will be an essential investment for Kentucky’s many transportation priorities. Popular programs like TIGER grants will see significant increases in funding from previous years, which will provide funding for which communities in the Commonwealth can compete. The legislation also provides $600 million to establish a new pilot program designed to increase broadband access in rural areas, like those in Kentucky.
“The measure is also a victory for safe, reliable 21st-century infrastructure in Kentucky. It will fund long-overdue improvements to roads, rails, airports, and inland waterways to ensure that our growing economy has the support system it needs,” Senator McConnell said. “The broadband funding will not only help expand Internet access to those who have traditionally lacked it, but it will also provide economic opportunities for residents and businesses in rural Kentucky.”
Securing the Homeland
This legislation includes robust funding to fight terrorism, enhance criminal law enforcement, and secure U.S. borders. At the president’s request, it contains $1.57 billion for a border wall and other technology to secure our Southwest border, including nearly 100 miles of new or upgraded border wall construction.
“The bill expands funding for federal law enforcement,” Senator McConnell said. “It allocates new resources to border security and immigration enforcement, including an important step forward for President Trump’s proposed wall. The total miles of new and upgraded walls and barriers funded by this bill exceeds even the Administration’s initial request for this fiscal year.”