Mikulski Floor Statement on Continuing Funding Resolution

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WASHINGTON, D.C.Today, U.S. Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), Vice Chairwoman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, spoke on the Senate floor to urge support for the continuing funding resolution (CR) after Republican Leaders in the House and Senate pledged to provide funding for Flint in December.


The following are Vice Chairwoman Mikulski’s remarks, as prepared for delivery:


“Today we have a continuing funding resolution before us. It meets three goals that Democrats laid out. First, it keeps the government open through December 9, so we can finish work on government spending in an omnibus in December. Second, it abides by the balanced budget agreement of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. And third, it does not contain poison pill riders, which is true, with one regrettable exception: the Securities and Exchange Commission political disclosure rule rider.


“The bill fights the Zika virus with $1.1 billion of emergency funding without objectionable riders restricting funding, contains funding for veterans and military construction, so promises made to veterans are promises kept, and contains disaster relief for flooded communities in Louisiana, West Virginia and other states. But the bill does not respond to compelling human needs in Flint, Michigan.


“Not having funding for Flint is the bad news. Democrats believe we should not pick and choose which disaster victims to help. The good news is Leadership on both sides of the aisle and both sides of the dome pledged to get money to Flint during the lame duck session. I commend Senators Stabenow and Peters for their advocacy and was proud to stand with them.


“Why did we fight so hard for Flint? Because of the 100,000 people in Flint, Michigan, still waiting for their water pipes to be clean and safe. Because of the Small business owners trying to keep their restaurants going. And because of the mothers worried about their young children suffering permanent cognitive damage, slowed growth and development, and behavior and learning difficulties from exposure to lead. They deserve our help.


“Now that we have a path forward to help Flint, we’re going to take it because we want to do our jobs to avoid shutdowns, showdowns and slamdowns. We are disappointed about Flint, but this bill also contains some very good items. It supports the funding and policy to keep the government working, and provides for the defense of our nation both through the Department of Defense (DoD) and the efforts outside of the DoD that protect America.


“The bill includes $1.1 billion in emergency funding to fight Zika – with no onerous riders or restrictions. The World Health Organization declared the Zika outbreak a public health emergency on February 1, 2016. Zika is here and it disproportionately affects women and babies, causing horrible birth defects. We need better testing, treatments and a vaccine, which is why we have fought so hard for this funding.


“The CR includes our first full appropriations bill for fiscal year 2017, funding the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Military Construction. I’m glad we’re moving the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs bill to the head of the line, so promises made to our nation’s veterans are promises kept.


“The bill funds an array of vital programs for the health and well-being of our nation’s veterans, our military troops and their families. The bill continues to reduce backlogs in disability claims processing and backlogs in getting medical care. I am particularly pleased that the bill includes the Murray provision to provide fertility treatments to veterans and spouses, allowing them to have a family, and gender-specific treatment for female veterans, like researching and purchasing prosthetics designed specifically for women. I am proud of my Ranking Member, Senator Tester, and his counterpart Senator Kirk for completing the first of our 12 Appropriations bills.


“So that’s one appropriations bill down, but there are 11 left to go. We need to finish the job. In December we need to pass funding to help Flint, Michigan and finish the other 11 Appropriations bills. Appropriations bills that should include an increase of $2 billion for the National Institutes of Health to find cures, an increase of $113 million for Israeli missile defense, increases for national security and federal law enforcement, $261 million for the Department of Health and Human Services and other focused funding for fighting heroin and opioid addiction, restoration of full year Pell Grants, and an increase of $157 million for water infrastructure.


“I say to the 330,000 Marylanders who are employees and retirees of the federal government: today we will keep the government open, avoiding a shutdown and slamdown, by passing this continuing funding resolution. But we also wanted to do more by meeting the compelling human needs in Flint, Michigan. Over the coming weeks and months, let’s do our jobs and finish our appropriations work for the American people.”



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