CONGRESSMAN BISHOP STATEMENT ON PASSAGE OF CONTINUING RESOLUTION AND FY19 FUNDING PACKAGE FOR DEPARTMENTS OF DEFENSE, LABOR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, AND EDUCATION

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (GA-02) released the following statement regarding the passage of the conference report for the second FY19 “minibus” government funding package and continuing resolution (H.R. 6157). A minibus bill is a package of appropriations measures and provides funding for a number of, but not all, government departments, programs, and agencies, while a continuing resolution provides continued funding at current levels for agencies not otherwise covered by a minibus or individual appropriations measure.

The minibus conference report includes the Defense, Labor and Health and Human Services, and Education FY19 Appropriations Acts, and provides these underlying departments and agencies with full FY19 funding. The previous minibus bill included the Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs FY19 Appropriations Acts. The continuing resolution portion of the bill provides agencies not otherwise covered by a minibus with funding at current levels through December 7, 2018. The bill was passed by the full U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 361 to 61. The bill was previously passed by the U.S. Senate by a vote of 93 to 7.

Department of Defense

“I am encouraged that this appropriations bill will provide timely funding for our armed forces, as well as our Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education.

“The Department of Defense portion of this bill includes $674.4 billion, which is $19.8 billion above FY 2018’s enacted level. This figure includes $67.9 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations funding. The bill includes a 2.6% pay raise for our servicemembers, the largest in nearly a decade. The bill also increases the end strength of our military forces, including active duty, reserve, and National Guard forces. Furthermore, this legislation prohibits any funds from being utilized for another round of potentially debilitating base closures (BRAC). I am also pleased that this legislation invests in a variety of research and development programs, and includes a number of specific investments in science programs at Historically Black Colleges & Universities.

“Additionally, this measure improves our military readiness by investing in numerous programs to ensure our military is the strongest, best trained, best equipped and best prepared fighting force in the world. The bill invests in defense health initiatives that make certain our servicemembers and their families receive top-quality care, and invests in quality of life programs to better enhance the lives of both servicemembers and their families.

“I am also pleased to report that the Defense title of this bill includes provisions I spearheaded to address the reports of potential lead exposure at on-base housing. These provisions direct the Government Accountability Office to initiate an investigation of potential toxic lead paint exposure impacting servicemembers and their families living in on-base housing. Additionally, the language requires the Secretary of Defense to provide risk assessments and blood testing for all Tricare beneficiary’s during their 12-month and 24-month wellness checks or annual physical examinations.

“However, I was discouraged to see that the House of Representatives’ position on the E-8 Joint Surveillance Target Attack System (JSTARS) recapitalization was not upheld as a part of this conference agreement. I remain committed to using my oversight capacity to ensure that the capability provided by JSTARS is maintained for our ground forces as the Air Force finalizes and puts into service its replacement at Robins Air Force Base. I also take solace on the fact that the bill requires the Air Force Secretary to report to Congress with a plan, strategy, costs and a gap assessment of the Advanced Battle Management System to be housed at Robins Air Force Base.

Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education

“This minibus legislation also includes, $90.5 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services, $71.5 billion for the Department of Education, and $12.1 billion for the Department of Labor.

“It includes $7.9 billion in funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, $2.3 billion more than initially requested by the administration, as well as the $39.1 billion for the National Institutes of Health, which drives much needed health research into cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular disease, and many other conditions.

“The bill also includes language directing the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services to submit a family reunification plan to Congress and provides funding for trauma counseling services for separated children. Importantly, it drops language originally included in the House-passed bill that would have overridden the Flores settlement currently limiting the time migrant children may be detained.

“As Co-Chair of the Friends of Job Corps Congressional Caucus, I am pleased that the bill provides $1.7 billion for Job Corps, which provides its young participants with the skills needed to learn a career, earn a high school diploma or GED, and find and keep a good job.

“I am also pleased the minibus includes $1.4 billion in Impact Aid grants to assist school districts with impacted tax bases due to the property tax status of military and other federal installations. Additionally, the $10.1 billion provided by the bill to the Head Start program will help ensure young children are provided comprehensive education and enrichment services during their critical developmental years.

“Ultimately, this minibus legislation takes a number of positive steps to shore up our military and provides funding for an assortment of necessary programs and services for the American people.”