$674.4 billion package Includes Largest Pay Raise for Troops in Nearly a Decade, Boost in NIH and Opioid Crisis Funds

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) today praised the Senate’s passage of the final conference agreement reached on H.R. 6157, the second of three Fiscal Year 2019 minibus appropriations packages, which includes funding bills for the Department of Defense and Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies subcommittees.  The bill also contains a continuing resolution (CR) through December 7, 2018, for any appropriations bills not enacted before October 1, 2018.  Following passage in the House, which is expected to vote on the legislation next week, the package will be sent to the President’s desk for his signature.

“This is the most significant step we have taken yet,” said Chairman Shelby.  “For the first time in a decade, we are sending a Defense spending bill to the President’s desk on time.  Returning to regular order has required us all to sacrifice and work together for the good of the process.   I want to thank my colleagues – particularly Leaders McConnell and Schumer and Vice Chairman Leahy – for their help in moving the Defense-Labor-HHS conference report before the Senate.  This conference report contains critical funding for defense and domestic priorities.  It accelerates the rebuilding of America’s military and provides our men and women in uniform with the largest pay increase in nearly a decade.  It also increases NIH’s budget by $2 billion and provides critical resources to combat the opioid epidemic.  And, it contains no poison pill riders.

“I think it’s important to give the President some credit here for the progress we are making.  He has been adamant about the need to rebuild our military and fund the government in a deliberate manner.  Not only do I agree with him, but I believe most Americans agree with him as well.  With this package we are taking an important step in that direction.

“I want to thank my colleagues once again for their help on this conference report.  This is a big deal for our country.  Let’s keep working together to accomplish even more on behalf of the American people,” concluded Shelby.

The final conference report, which was passed by a vote of 93 – 7, provides $674.4 billion to continue rebuilding our nation’s military, an increase of $19.8 billion above the Fiscal Year 2018 level for Pentagon funding, and $178.1 billion for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and Related Agencies for investments in critical medical research, opioid abuse prevention and treatment, and education.  This includes $39.1 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and increase of $2 billion, and $3.8 billion to combat the opioid crisis, and increase of $206 million.  The attached CR does not preclude enactment of other appropriations bills before or after October 1.  Any appropriations bill enacted after the CR would supersede the provisions in the CR.  The conference report and joint explanatory statement are available online.

The Defense and Labor-HHS-Education bills represent the majority of discretionary federal spending, yet neither has been signed into law before the end of the fiscal year in a decade.  The legislation not only increases funding for the Pentagon and NIH, but it also provides the largest pay raise for our troops in a decade and boosted resources for opioid treatment, prevention, and recovery programs.  Prior to the conference meeting with the House regarding H.R. 6157, the Senate passed its version of the package by a vote of 85 – 7.

Last week, the Senate passed the final conference agreement reached on H.R. 5895, the first Fiscal Year 2019 minibus appropriations package, which includes funding bills for Energy and Water Development, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and Legislative Branch.  The measure was approved by a vote of 92 – 5.

Chairman Shelby spoke on the Senate floor prior to the vote on passage.  His full remarks, as prepared, are as follows:

            “I want to thank my colleagues – particularly Leaders McConnell and Schumer and Vice Chairman Leahy – for their help in moving the Defense-Labor-HHS conference report before the Senate.

            “This conference report contains critical funding for defense and domestic priorities. 

            “It accelerates the rebuilding of America’s military and provides our men and women in uniform with the largest pay increase in nearly a decade.

            “It also increases NIH’s budget by $2 billion and provides critical resources to combat the opioid epidemic.

             “And, it contains no poison pill riders.

            “On the whole, the conference report tracks very closely with the Senate version of this package, which passed by a vote of 85 – 7.

            “I hope it will receive the same level of support today and urge my colleagues to vote yes.

            “If this conference report is signed into law next week when the House returns, we will have funded 75 percent of the federal government before the end of the fiscal year.

            “And, it will be the first time in a decade that our military will not be operating under a continuing resolution at the beginning of a new fiscal year.

            “What a remarkable turn of events from just six months ago, when the entire government was funded in one omnibus spending package – six months behind schedule.

             “I think it’s important to give the President some credit here for the progress we are making.

             “He has been adamant about the need to rebuild our military and fund the government in a deliberate manner.

             “Not only do I agree with him but I believe most Americans agree with him as well.

            “And with this package we are taking an important step in that direction.

             “I say to my colleagues, this is the most significant step we have taken yet – but we still have work to do.

             “This conference report contains a continuing resolution to account for the appropriations bills not yet signed into law.

            “I want to stress that my colleagues should not read this as a sign that we have reached an impasse with the House on the remaining bills now in conference.

            “To the contrary, we are very close to an agreement on four additional bills – Interior, Financial Services, Transportation, and Agriculture.

            “While we still have differences to resolve on each of the bills, none of them are insurmountable, in my judgement.

            “So we will continue to work diligently, and hopefully return to the floor soon with yet another conference report in hand.

            “In closing, I want to thank my colleagues once again for their help on this conference report; this is a big deal for our country.

            “Let’s keep working together to accomplish even more on behalf of the American people.”

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