WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (GA-02), Ranking Member of the U.S. House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, released the following statement on the passage of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Omnibus Appropriations bill by the U.S. House of Representatives. The bipartisan measure was approved yesterday by the full House by a vote of 256 to 167. Congressman Bishop supported the bill.
“Although Congress should have wrapped up its Fiscal Year 2018 spending bills six months ago and not relied on continuing resolutions to fund the government, I am pleased that we now can provide federal agencies and programs with the certainty they need to carry out their missions until the end of September.
“The bill makes much needed investments in our national defense by providing a much-needed 2.4% pay raise for our service members. It includes funding to construct a Combat Vehicle Warehouse for Marine Corps Logistics Base in Albany, which will replace a facility that was destroyed by the devastating storms last year. It also provides for the construction of a new Air Traffic Support Tower for Lawson Army Airfield at Fort Benning to enhance capabilities at the base. Additionally, the bill fully funds the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (J-STARS), which is housed at Robins Air Force Base.
“The funding package provides $1.4 billion for the military family housing program, which currently serves nearly 1.4 million military families. Additionally, Impact Aid, which assists local school districts that have lost property tax revenue due to the presence of tax-exempt federal property, is funded at $1.4 billion, an increase of $86 million.
“It also provides our veterans with a $7 billion increase to address health care needs, and addresses the disability claim backlog with a $54 million increase to be used for hiring additional claims processing staff.
“The Omnibus legislation bolsters vital non-defense programs as well, including Head Start, Job Corps, and child care. It addresses the ongoing opioid crisis with prevention, treatment, research, and behavioral health workforce training, and provides the National Institutes of Health (NIH) with a $3 billion increase to promote medical research into cures for cancer, diabetes, and other diseases.
“As Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, I am pleased that the Omnibus provides an additional $1.1 billion in new infrastructure spending on agriculture, including $600 million for a rural broadband pilot program to assist in further closing the digital divide.
“It includes much needed food security for our most vulnerable citizens, including $17.9 billion for the school lunch and breakfast programs, and $6.175 billion for the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC).
“The bill also includes a number of beneficial provisions that I was able to secure on behalf of our nation’s rural communities. These provisions include $15 million to assist pecan farmers, who were previously shut out from disaster assistance after last year’s storms. Also included is $1.25 million for research into the Whitefly epidemic, which is severely impacting vegetable and cotton production in the Southeastern United States. At my urging, Congress is directing the Agriculture Research Service (ARS) and National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) to work with land-grant universities, including the University of Georgia and Fort Valley State University, to develop an action plan to solve this issue.
The Omnibus includes all 12 appropriations bills and provides discretionary funding through the remainder of FY2018 for all governmental agencies and programs.