Lawmakers react to Senate passing bipartisan budget agreement

WASHINGTON, W.Va (WDTV) - Lawmakers have released statements following the Senate's passing of a bipartisan budget agreement.

Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee voted to pass the Bipartisan Budget Act. She later released a statement saying:

“I am pleased that Congress passed this bipartisan, bicameral budget agreement. Not only does it provide a clear path forward to fund the government, but it promises resources that will support and advance numerous issues that are critically important to West Virginians—many of which I have long fought for. This budget agreement provides a framework upon which we can complete the FY18 appropriations process.

She went on to say, “specifically, this legislation supports our troops and veterans, supports continued efforts to combat the opioid epidemic, provides needed resources for disaster relief efforts both in recovery and mitigation for future natural disasters, and extends funding for community health centers – something I specifically requested in a letter I sent to Senate leadership earlier this week. Whether it’s protecting our national security, repairing and modernizing our infrastructure, expanding access to rural broadband, or delivering a long-term health care solution for thousands of children and families, this agreement will help improve the lives of West Virginians and many other Americans.

“So many of the issues this agreement focuses on have long been priorities of mine, and I have fought to deliver needed funding in these areas. When it comes to the opioid epidemic, West Virginia is ground zero, and it is critical that we have the resources necessary to fight this epidemic from all angles. This bill will help provide that support. We are also making progress toward ensuring the omnibus includes resources targeted to hard-hit states like West Virginia that are dealing with the worst of the drug epidemic.

“On the broadband front, the agreement specifically addresses the need to provide resources to bridge the digital divide and better connect our homes, businesses, and schools. These are just a few of many examples of how this legislation will positively influence the lives of so many in our state.

“This budget agreement also includes an additional four years of funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which I have championed for decades. Combined with the six years of CHIP funding passed last month, today’s bill ensures that CHIP will continue to provide health care for West Virginia kids until 2027. I am also pleased that this bill recognizes the urgent need to help tens of thousands of retired coal miners by establishing a special bipartisan committee to develop legislation addressing the multi-employer pension crisis.

“Another important part of this bill is the inclusion of the FUTURE Act, bipartisan legislation I introduced to encourage technological innovation in carbon capture utilization and storage. This policy will help drive economic growth domestically and reduce future emissions abroad, while also allowing our country to embrace the kind of all-of-the-above energy strategy – including West Virginia coal and natural gas – we need to reach our full potential. I was proud to have led this effort, along with Senator Heitkamp, and I am excited for the economic and environmental benefits it will encourage.

“Improving the lives of West Virginians remains my top priority, and passage of this legislation is a critical step forward toward achieving that goal.”

Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va) also chimed in saying, "Early this morning, I voted for this budget agreement because I have been pressuring Congressional leadership to stop kicking the can down the road and provide long-term funding for priorities important to West Virginia."

"I’m happy to say this budget agreement includes significant funding to end the opioid epidemic, invest in high-speed internet and broadband access throughout our state and to make sure our military has the resources they need to keep our country safe. This agreement also establishes a select committee tasked with finding a path forward to solving our pension crisis. In West Virginia, we have nearly 87,000 coal miners that are facing uncertainty due to the impending loss of their hard-earned pensions."

“Bipartisanship isn’t always easy and we don’t always get what we want or need. I support today’s budget agreement because we need to invest $6 billion to fight the opioid epidemic, we need $20 billion to rebuild our infrastructure, and we need $4 billion to improve our VA hospitals and clinics. But this deal is not perfect. I remain very concerned about our country’s addiction to spending and our ever increasing debt, but I will not hold our military and these other important priorities hostage.

“As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I will continue to work to make sure that Congress follows through on this deal, and that West Virginia gets what it needs to move our state forward.”