Congress will consider a critical funding bill that, first and foremost, fulfills our pledge to rebuild the nation’s military. It addresses a number of important national priorities, including school safety, infrastructure, and fighting the opioid epidemic. Here are eight reasons why this funding bill is so critical:
It fulfills our pledge to rebuild the nation’s military. We are delivering the biggest increase in defense funding in 15 years. Resources are targeted to priorities identified by Secretary Mattis, including increasing troop levels, funding new weapons systems, and upgrading our military capabilities by procuring new ships, aircraft, and tankers. After a series of training accidents and incidents, we are boosting resources for key readiness programs, including training, facility maintenance, and base operations.
It supports our service members and veterans. This bill fully funds the biggest pay raise for our service members in 8 years. It includes a record level of funding for the VA, with more resources for health care, opioid abuse treatment, and better medical facilities, as we work to build a 21st-century health care system for our veterans.
It takes action to bolster school safety. This bill fixes and fully funds the National Instant Criminal Background System (NICS), a critical step to keep guns out of the hands of people with a criminal history. It implements key provisions of the STOP School Violence Act to fund Department of Justice grant programs that help keep schools safe. Overall, the bill provides more than $2.3 billion in new funding for mental health, training, and school safety programs.
It begins construction of the wall. The funding bill includes $1.57 billion for physical barriers along the Southwest border—in line with the administration’s request—and provides funding for more than 95 miles of a border wall system, more than what the administration requested. It increases funding for border security and immigration enforcement, putting more “boots on the ground” and ensuring that detainees are referred to ICE instead of harbored by sanctuary cities.
It steps up the fight against the opioid epidemic. With nearly $4 billion, the funding bill makes the largest federal investment to date for fighting the opioid epidemic, which the president has declared a national emergency. It includes funding for treatment, prevention, and law enforcement programs that help save lives and stem the spread of this scourge.
It rebuilds America’s infrastructure. The bill includes $21.2 billion in new funding for long-overdue improvements to our nation’s infrastructure—a key priority for the administration—including resources to improve highways, railways, and airports. And there are no earmarks for specific projects.
It promotes workforce development. The bill boosts funding for workforce development in high-growth job fields, including a $50 million increase for apprenticeship programs. It boosts funding for child care and early head start programs to make it easier for job seekers to enter or return to the workforce. It provides a $75 million increase for career and technical education programs.
It addresses key Republican priorities:
- Maintains all existing pro-life policies, including the Hyde amendment, the Dickey-Wicker amendment, and the Weldon amendment.
- Ensures that American farmers are benefiting from tax reform on an even playing field, and provides the IRS with the resources to implement a fairer and simpler tax code under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
- Helps protect western communities from catastrophic wildfires by reforming our federal forestry laws.
- The Taylor Force Act, which cuts off assistance that directly benefits the Palestinian Authority unless the PA takes credible steps to end violence and support for terrorist activities.
- The first reauthorization of the FCC in 28 years, which includes reforms to boost the development of next-generation 5G wireless broadband.
- The Keep Young Athletes Safe Act, which provides resources to safeguard amateur athletes against emotional, physical, and sexual abuse in sports.
- The TARGET Act, which cracks down on human trafficking.