Friday, May 01, 2015
Billy Long: Budget resolution strengths defense, calls for Obamacare repeal
This week, the House and Senate agreed on a budget resolution, setting the framework for how Congress will appropriate funds for federal departments and agencies. It cuts $5 trillion and balances the budget within 10 years without a tax increase while calling for Obamacare's repeal, strengthening national defense and preserving Social Security and Medicare. With that, the House has begun one of its most important responsibilities, executing its "power of the purse."
The House passed two appropriations bills - one for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and military construction; the other for energy and water development programs - setting funding for various federal agencies and programs.
With this legislation, the VA would see a 5.6 percent funding boost, enhancing its ability to serve our nation's veterans while also strengthening the investigative arm of the agency, making sure the VA is held accountable for quality of care provided. The bill would move us closer toward a modernized and paperless VA benefit processing system to reduce the notorious benefits backlog. The Department of Defense would receive an increase for housing and training troops and ensuring our brave men and women on the frontlines have the equipment they need to succeed. It would also ensure 1.4 million military families have excellent housing, fund medical facility construction for 9.8 million beneficiaries and wounded warriors, and support anti-terror operations such as operations against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
Regarding the energy and water development bill, the Department of Energy (DOE) would have to use additional funds to accommodate and prioritize an "all of the above" energy approach, efficiently utilizing all of our God-given domestic natural resources and moving us closer to energy independence. The bill also prohibits implementation of EPA's "Waters of the U.S." rule, which would have a major negative impact on southwest Missouri's agriculture and economy.
These are the first two of 12 appropriations bills Congress needs to pass ahead of each fiscal year, which begins October 1. This is the earliest the House has begun work on appropriations bills since 1974.
I look forward to working on the rest of the appropriations bills and carrying out my Constitutional duty while upholding fiscal accountability.