Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran is advocating for approval of Senate legislation filed Wednesday night to avert a government shutdown, provide critical disaster relief, and, importantly, set the stage to complete the FY2018 appropriations process in the coming weeks.
The Senate bill includes a continuing resolution (CR) to fund government operations from Feb. 8 through March 23, providing time for completion of FY2018 appropriations bills. It also provides $89.3 billion in additional emergency disaster relief for states and communities affected by recent hurricanes, wildfires, and other disasters. In addition, it includes a two-year agreement setting defense and non-defense spending levels for FY2018 and FY2019.
“The Senate should approve this bill,” said U.S. Senator Thad Cochran. “Its enactment would allow the Appropriations committees to work in a thoughtful manner over the next several weeks to reach consensus on important bipartisan priorities like funding our national defense, the opioid epidemic, veterans’ health care, and infrastructure. More immediately, we need this bill to maintain government operations and to enable millions of Americans affected by recent disasters to continue rebuilding their lives and communities.”
Cochran said that for months he has called for Congress and the Trump administration to reach consensus on spending levels. The spending agreement in the Senate bill would allow the Appropriations committees to complete this year’s spending bills and prepare for the new fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.
Mississippi agriculture is mentioned in the bill as well and includes language to make cotton eligible for the Price Loss Coverage program beginning with the 2018 crop year. This action would address ongoing and disaster-related economic challenges facing cotton producers, and allow them to participate in the program, just like all other major U.S. commodity producers.
The Senate bill also includes legislation related to the extension of healthcare policies and mandatory funding, including extending funding for Community Health Centers and an additional four-year extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) beyond the six-year CHIP reauthorization enacted into law earlier this year.