The U.S. Senate has approved three bills that will benefit Mississippi. U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith voted to approve the first series of appropriations bills for the 2019 fiscal year, including measures to fund Army Corps of Engineers activities in Mississippi and increase funding for veterans’ programs.
The Senate voted 86-5 to approve a three-bill package, which includes the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill, the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Bill, and the Legislative Branch Appropriations Bill.
“The passage of these three bills moves the Senate away from having to pass a huge omnibus bill later this year,” Hyde-Smith said. “For Mississippi, these appropriations bills will support important infrastructure, commerce, and public safety. Importantly, veterans programs and military readiness are also are funded.”
All three bills must be reconciled with the corresponding House-passed measures before they can be given final approval and then presented to President Trump for consideration.
Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill
Hyde-Smith supported funding in the bill for Army Corps of Engineers projects in Mississippi, including flood control, water and wastewater infrastructure assistance, and research conducted at the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center (ERDC) in Vicksburg. In addition, the bill continues funding for the Appalachian Regional Commission and Delta Regional Authority.
Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Bill
The Senate-approved bill provides record-level funding for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to provide funding to improve its delivery of medical treatment and healthcare services to veterans and their dependents, including additional resources to prevent veteran suicide and homelessness.
The bill provides $78.3 billion overall, a $5.0 billion increase, to support VA programs. Hyde-Smith also supported $64.3 million for the Armed Forces Retirement Home, which operates facilities in Gulfport and Washington, D.C.
Within military construction funding, the bill includes a $10 million increase requested by Hyde-Smith to support the U.S. Army’s laboratory revitalization program, which would benefit the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center in Vicksburg.
Legislative Branch Appropriations Bill
The measure provides funding to maintain essential operations and security of the U.S. Capitol, Congress, and government transparency agencies like the Government Accountability Office and Congressional Budget Office. The measure is $90 million more than FY2018 funding, but $187 million less than the budget request.
Hyde-Smith won Senate approval of her amendment to provide adequate funds for the Surplus Books Program at the Library of Congress. The amendment, which does not increase spending and has no budgetary impact, would allow the Library of Congress to promote its Surplus Books Program to more schools, nonprofit organizations, and other eligible groups.
Mississippi schools and nonprofits benefit from this program.
Finally, Hyde-Smith supported extending the Member Pay Freeze to prevent any pay increases for Members of Congress in FY2019. The Appropriations Committee first imposed this pay freeze in 2009.