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Spending Your Money in DC: Why Miss. Senators Say They Voted for the New Budget Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C.–Stopping any new money for Obama Care, aking more money available on some projects in Mississippi: those are two of the reasons both senators Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker voted for the spending bill passed by the U.S. Senate Thursday and the House earlier.

Perhaps the biggest reason: It will mean no government shutdown in October.

The bill was approved overwhelmingly in both chambers. The Senate vote was 72-26.

“I am encouraged that we are passing an appropriations bill rather than again giving the President a blank check with another continuing resolution,” said Cochran.

Highlights of some of the Mississippi-related provisions in the bill include (from a statements by Sen. Cochran’s office):

Mississippi Shipbuilding:  Full funding for amphibious, destroyer, and cutter shipbuilding programs important to the Coast Guard, Navy, and Mississippi shipyard workers.  Additional funds provided will result in savings by creating efficiencies in Mississippi’s shipyards

Stennis Space Center:  Full funding for activities at Stennis Space Center important to the missions of NASA, NOAA, the Navy, Special Operations Forces and the Department of Homeland Security.

Mississippi Military Bases:  Restored funding to improve the readiness of our military consistent with the current threats.  This funding will support activities at Keesler Air Force Base, Columbus Air Force Base, Gulfport Construction Battalion Base, Camp Shelby, Meridian Naval Air Station, Meridian’s Key Field, Jackson’s Thompson Field, Gulfport’s Combat Readiness Training Center, and Tupelo’s Army Aviation Support Facility.

Lakota Helicopter:  Restored funding for the Army’s Light Utility Helicopter Program, which is built at the Golden Triangle Airport in Columbus.  This helicopter primarily supports the National Guard and is one of the Department of Defense’s most efficient and cost effective programs.

Mississippi Research: The bill includes military, medical and agricultural research funding important to Mississippi State University, the University of Mississippi, the University of Southern Mississippi, Jackson State University and Alcorn State University.

ERDC Vicksburg:  Restored funding for the Army Corps of Engineers Engineer Research and Development Center in Vicksburg, which has been cited by the Army as its top research laboratory.

Flood Control, Navigation and Ports:  Much needed funding for navigation projects along the Mississippi River and for flood control projects throughout Mississippi.  Additional funding is for dredging of many Mississippi ports.

Mississippi’s Parks:  Funding for Mississippi’s eight National Parks Service sites, including the Natchez Trace.

Gulf of Mexico:  Significant funding important to Gulf of Mexico coastal restoration and research important to industry, job creation, and tourism in South Mississippi.

Mississippi Transportation:  Significant funding for Mississippi’s interstates, highways and airports.

Both senators acknowledged that there are parts of the bill that are flawed.

“Although the bill is not perfect, I am hopeful this bipartisan agreement represents an end to the Senate’s abdication of its shared constitutional duty to exercise the ‘power of the purse,'” said Wicker. “I am also pleased that the bill replaces some of the harsh sequestration spending cuts to our defense and national security agencies, as well as prioritizes programs that strengthen U.S. competitiveness and innovation.”

“This particular provision restores our promise to members of our military who are medically disabled and the spouses of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice,” Wicker added. “However, the fight to restore full retirement benefits for all of our military men and women does not end here. I will continue to work to repeal the onerous military pension cuts contained in the Murray-Ryan budget deal.”

The bill prohibits the use of federal funding for abortions and forbids the Internal Revenue Service from targeting groups “based on their ideological beliefs or to target citizens for exercising their First Amendment rights.”  The bill also eliminates $270 million in unused funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and prohibits any aid to Libya unless it cooperates with the investigation into the 2012 terrorist attack on the United States diplomatic facility and American personnel in Benghazi.

The next step is Pres. Obama’s signature Then it becomes law.

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