Funding Bill Will Make a Positive Impact On the People We Represent

‘The Senate will soon vote on the government-funding bill the House passed yesterday, and with it, critical resources to address a number of issues facing our country.’

WASHINGTON, D.C. –U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) made the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding the government funding bill:

“The Senate will soon vote on the government-funding bill the House passed yesterday, and with it, critical resources to address a number of issues facing our country. As I’ve noted over the course of this week, the bill includes a number of provisions that are important to our country and — today — I’d like to take a closer look at the positive impact they can make in the lives of the men and women we represent. 

“Our country is suffering from a terrible epidemic. Heroin and prescription opioid abuse is destroying families and communities across the nation. On average, overdoses from these drugs claim 91 lives every day. Drug addiction can even devastate the lives of babies before they are born.

“States like mine have been hit particularly hard by this epidemic. I’ve heard countless stories from Kentuckians who’ve experienced the heartbreak of addiction firsthand. Here’s one story that a grandmother from Independence, Kentucky shared with my office.  ‘[M]y granddaughter is growing up without a father due to this evil drug,’ she wrote. ’Our children are the future of this country and deserve all the help and support we can give them.’  Unfortunately, her story is similar to thousands more across the country. Grandparents and other family members are increasingly taking care of children when parents fall into addiction.

“As too many families have experienced, addiction can have long-lasting and damaging effects on children and can be financially challenging for caregivers.  A mom in Florence, Kentucky contacted my office about her son, who is battling addiction and frequently runs into trouble with the law.  ‘There are so many lives lost and so many more headed in that direction,’ she said. ’It’s an epidemic, not a crime spree.’

“We took decisive action against heroin and opioid abuse last year with passage of the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act and the 21stCentury Cures Act. Now, by passing this funding legislation, we can provide significant new resources to combat the crisis as well.  Those critical funds will go to prevention, treatment, and enforcement programs that can help our communities heal from this scourge — and help keep more families from ever knowing the suffering associated with this epidemic.

“There’s still more work to do to get the opioid crisis under control, but this funding legislation will take another critical step in the right direction. That’s why substance-abuse treatment organizations support it, including one Louisville group that recently contacted my office in support of the bill. This legislation, in their words, will help ‘[enhance] the ability of front lines providers to more effectively deploy resources and tackle this epidemic within our communities.’  That’s making a positive and meaningful impact in the lives of the men and women we represent.

“Health care benefits for thousands of retired coal miners were set to expire across the country at the end of this week. Men and women who dedicated their lives to providing an affordable and reliable source of energy to this nation would have lost their health care, many of them when they needed it most.

“I have met with retired coal miners numerous times in my office about this issue, including one retiree from Georgetown, Kentucky who worked as an underground miner for 10 years. He suffers from diabetes and heart disease, and his wife is a breast cancer survivor.  ‘There is no question of whether or not we need our health insurance to continue,’ he said. ’Without it, we would probably lose our home, [which] would be catastrophic not to mention what might happen to our health because we could not afford to get coverage or our medicine.’

“These coal miner retirees clearly needed our help, which is why I’ve been fighting for their health care at every step of the way. Today, I am proud that this funding legislation includes my proposal to permanently extend health care benefits for thousands of retirees across the nation and in Kentucky. Now these coal miners and their families can live with the peace of mind they've been looking for.  That’s making a positive and meaningful impact in the lives of the men and women we represent.

“For too long, federal bureaucrats in Washington imposed one-size-fits-all education policies on our children. Distant bureaucrats dictated nationwide policies, even though the needs of a student in Kentucky are different from those of a student in Maine or California. For this reason, we enacted the Every Student Succeeds Act education reform law, which sends power back to states, parents and teachers — and this funding bill will support its implementation, giving our schools the resources they need to prepare our students.  This funding legislation also supports school choice through reauthorization of the DC Opportunity Scholarships Program and through increased federal funding for charter schools. Both of these school-choice provisions will help expand opportunities for parents to send their children to the school that best meets their needs. 

“In my home state of Kentucky, the increased support for charter schools will be very important as the new Republican majority in Frankfort recently passed a charter schools law.  Yesterday, I met with State Representative Carney and charter school advocates who were key to shepherding this legislation into law. I want to again thank them for their efforts on behalf of Kentucky students and families, and I look forward to working with them to support charter schools in Kentucky going forward.  By funding the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act and supporting school choice across the country, this legislation will help parents and students achieve strong educational outcomes.  That’s making a positive and meaningful impact in the lives of the men and women we represent.

“Of course, this bill contains many other important wins for our country.  It includes the largest border-security funding increase in a decade — allowing our country to better support border security agents, enhance technology, and update critical infrastructure at the border.  It includes important resources to help us begin rebuilding our military — allowing our country to give servicemembers more of the tools they need, and fund a much-needed raise for our men and women in uniform.  And, as I’ve outlined several times this week, this legislation includes a number of other conservative priorities as well.

“Importantly, it achieves these things while conforming to spending caps and reducing bureaucracy, even consolidating, eliminating, or rescinding funds for over 150 government programs and initiatives.  Because of hard work from both chambers and both sides of the aisle, we have a funding bill before us that can make many important and positive impacts in the lives of the people we represent. I know I will be supporting it. I urge colleagues to do the same.  I look forward to its passage so we can send the agreement to President Trump for his signature.”

Related Issues: Coal, Opioid Abuse, Homeland Security, America's Military, Education