Vice Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) Statement on the Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Conference Report

I am pleased to be here at the second appropriations conference of Fiscal Year 2019.  The two bills before us—the Defense Appropriations bill, and the Labor, HHS, and Education bills—are the product of months of hard work and bipartisan cooperation, and I am pleased that we have been able to work out all of the differences between the House and Senate bills.   

These bills make important investments not only in our national security but also in the future of our country.  

Together they demonstrate the importance of the bipartisan budget agreement reached earlier this year and are free of poison pill riders.  In these two bills, the priorities outlined in that agreement are made into real policy to improve the lives of Americans. 

The Labor, HHS, Education bill makes important new investments in health care and education.  We increase funding for the National Institutes of Health; invest in working families by improving access to child care and promoting college affordability; and provide important new resources to combat the opioid epidemic. 

And the Defense bill provides critical resources to support our men and women in uniform and their families, and invest in our national security.  

I am also pleased that this bill is free of controversial poison pill riders.  We did our job and focused on the task at hand, which is making responsible, thoughtful decisions about how to fund these federal agencies.  This is how it should be done.

I want to thank Chairman Shelby for his commitment to a bipartisan process that has made this progress possible.  I also want to thank Senators Blunt, Murray and Durbin for their work on these two bills.  As well as the House Chairs and Ranking Members, Representative Granger and Visclosky, and Representatives Cole and Delauro. 

The agreement also includes a continuing resolution through December to keep the government open while we complete negotiations on the remaining bills. 

I hope that we take quick action on this conference agreement, and I encourage the President to sign these bipartisan bills into law.   


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