Moments after the House passed a $400 billion budget agreement on Friday morning, Kern County Congressman Kevin McCarthy issued a statement on the pact.
“The government budget process is broken, and the result has been a long-term habit of irresponsible short-term funding. The House passed every single appropriations bill by last September when the fiscal year ended, and it is incredibly disheartening that a minority in the Senate blocked those funding bills from even coming up for debate, much less a vote, on the Senate floor. After months of continued Democrat obstruction, Congress will finally provide our military and the American people the certainty they look for from their government. While this is very, very far from the process the American people deserve, this bill takes an important step to ensure our government, and especially our national defense, averts more short-term funding bills.
“First and foremost, after years of decline, our military will now have full funding at the levels our men and women in uniform need to defend our country, update necessary equipment, and ensure that we are stronger than every other country in the world. As Secretary of Defense James Mattis said, short-term funding resolutions ‘impact the readiness of our force and their equipment at a time when security threats are extraordinarily high.’ Our nation can no longer afford to give our military less than 100% of the support it needs.
“Also here at home, this legislation provides funding to address domestic challenges from the opioid crisis and rare diseases to reforms at the Veterans Administration and fixing our crumbling infrastructure. The National Institute of Health, which is funding work on Valley Fever treatments, cures and vaccines, will receive increased funding along with programs to respond to the opioid crisis and improvements to our mental health system.
“To fix the backlogs in the VA that continue to deprive our veterans of the services they deserve, this legislation also increases funding for veterans’ programs for the next two years. While we are providing our men and women in uniform the tools they need today, we must never forget our commitment to them when they return home. For our community, I will continue to fight for the funding to build a new VA clinic that offers more services for our veterans.
“Finally, in line with the recent successes related to extending the Children’s Health Insurance Plan for six years, this package includes an additional four-year funding extension for CHIP through 2027, and increased levels of funding for community health centers and teaching health centers that are critical to serving rural communities throughout the Central Valley. There are four federally-funded health center organizations in our community that served nearly 400,000 patients in 2016. This bill also includes Medicare provisions that help low-income Americans, as well as additional payments for ground ambulance providers in rural areas helping ensure our seniors have access to critical ambulance services.
“While there is much that is needed and that Republicans have long sought in this legislation, it is my firm desire that we never again face this cycle of short-term funding resolutions followed by a single, all-encompassing bill. We can’t change the mistakes of the past, but we should learn from them. The House has shown it is willing and able to responsibly develop, debate, and pass every single appropriations bill. I am heartened that this legislation includes a special commission to accomplish this change. But the process simply doesn’t work if a minority of Democrats in one half of Congress stops the whole body from doing its job. We are ready to get back to work and to make our country domestically and militarily stronger than ever before.”