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Blunt Votes to Fund Key Missouri Priorities

Backs Bill that Eliminates & Streamlines Dozens of Ineffective or Duplicative Programs

May 04, 2017

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roy Blunt (Mo.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies, released the following statement today after voting in favor of the FY2017 omnibus appropriations bill. The bill funds key Missouri priorities for the remainder of the fiscal year, while eliminating or streamlining dozens of ineffective or overlapping government programs. The measure, which also includes Blunt’s HIRE Vets Act, is now headed to the president’s desk.

“This bill focuses resources on programs that provide the most benefit to the most people, while eliminating or consolidating dozens of others that are either duplicative or ineffective,” Blunt said. “It strengthens our nation’s defense, provides the largest pay raise for our troops in six years, increases investments in life-saving medical research, boosts efforts to combat the opioid epidemic, and includes funding for numerous other programs that address the needs of Missouri communities. I’m glad that we were able to come together, in a bipartisan way, to get this bill to the president’s desk. I will continuing working to ensure every taxpayer dollar we spend reflects the top priorities of families in our state and across the nation.”

As Labor/HHS chairman, Blunt previously announced that the bill includes another $2 billion increase for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), amounting to a total increase of $4 billion, or 13.3 percent, under Blunt’s chairmanship. Blunt also secured a provision in the measure that restores eligibility for year-round Pell Grants, which will help make college more affordable for an estimated 20,000 students in Missouri, and one million students nationwide.

In remarks on the Senate floor earlier today, Blunt also highlighted the $650 million increase in the bill for opioid abuse treatment and prevention programs, a 430 percent increase over last year’s funding level.

Following Are the Missouri Priorities Blunt Secured in the FY2017 Omnibus Appropriations Bill:

Agriculture:

Non-Land Grant Colleges of Agriculture: The funding bill provides $5 million to help build and maintain capacity for non-land grant colleges of agriculture. Both Missouri State University and Northwest Missouri State University received funding from this program last year.

East Locust: The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources for Conservation Service will receive $5.6 million toward completion of the East Locust watershed project.

K-12 Classroom Program: The measure includes $552,000 for Agriculture in the K-12 Classroom program, which educates students about the source of their food and agricultural career opportunities. This funding, combined with local funding, helps to educate over 5.6 million students in all 50 states.

Agroforestry: The measure includes $1.5 million for Agroforestry, which has previously provided key resources for the University of Missouri’s agroforestry center.

Agriculture and Food Research Initiative: The bill includes a $25 million increase for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative. The University of Missouri System, Washington University, and other universities in Missouri rely on grant funding from these programs to conduct innovative agricultural research.

Defense:

Super Hornets: The bill provides funding for 14 Super Hornets, which are manufactured in St. Louis, Mo., to meet the U.S. Navy’s tactical aviation shortfalls.

C-130 Aircraft: The bill provides funding for additional C-130 aircraft, and for C-130 modernization to meet Air National Guard intra-theater airlift mobility requirements. Rosecrans Air National Guard Base in St. Joseph, Mo. is the nation’s premier Air Guard training center for Advanced Airlift Tactical Training.

Tomahawk Missile Systems: The bill provides $219.1 million for Tomahawk missile systems to meet our nation’s minimum sustainment rate needs for long-range, all-weather subsonic cruise missile capabilities.

Research Investments: The bill provides research funding for the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Department of Defense. This funding will support research and development initiatives at the University of Missouri, and among defense industry leaders across the state. The bill also provides increased funding to continue groundbreaking medical research, which will save lives, reduce disability, and decrease the economic burden of traumatic injury.

End Strength Increases: The bill fully funds pay and benefits for 1,305,900 active duty and 813,200 reserve component troops, a total end strength increase of 36,000 military personnel over President Obama’s FY2017 budget request. In March, the U.S. Army announced that Fort Leonard Wood's Basic Combat Training mission is expected to increase by approximately 4,500 soldiers this fiscal year. Blunt previously backed legislation that would reverse ongoing and future reductions to end strength levels in the Active U.S. Army, U.S. Army Reserve, U.S. Army National Guard, Active Marine Corps and Marine Corps Reserve.

Lake City Army Ammunition Plant: The bill provides $20 million for Army industrial facilities. This funding will provide critical support to modernize facilities like Lake City Army Ammunition Plant near Independence, Missouri.

National Institutes of Health:

The $2 billion NIH funding boost will provide increased resources for several programs, including:

Alzheimer’s Disease Research: The bill provides $1.39 billion for Alzheimer’s disease research, a $400 million increase from the FY2016 level. Since taking over as chairman of the subcommittee, Blunt has more than doubled the amount spent on Alzheimer’s disease research. There are currently more than five million Americans living with the disease and that number is expected to reach as high as 16 million by 2050. Yet for every $125 Medicare and Medicaid spend on caring for individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, the federal government spends only $1 on Alzheimer’s research.

National Cancer Institute: The bill includes $5.7 billion for the National Cancer Institute (NCI), which represents an increase of $475.8 million from the FY2016 level. Research is underway at NCI to develop therapies that target gene mutations present in 30 percent of cancers. It is one of several key initiatives the Institute is pursuing to advance cancer research and treatment.

Precision Medicine Initiative: The measure includes $320 million for the Precision Medicine Initiative, an increase of $120 million above the FY2016 level. Dr. Timothy Eberlein, Director of the Siteman Cancer Center in St. Louis, recently testified before the subcommittee on the critical role that federal support for the Human Genome Project has had in advancing precision medicine therapies. Washington University was highly instrumental in the Human Genome Project, contributing roughly 25 percent of the final code. That work, in turn, has allowed researchers to pioneer the sequencing of cancer genomes.

BRAIN Initiative: The bill secures $260 million for the BRAIN Initiative, an increase of $110 million from the FY2016 level. The BRAIN Initiative will map the human brain to help researchers better understand and treat brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, traumatic brain injury, and depression.

Infrastructure:

Bannister Road Disposition: The bill includes $200 million for the Bannister Road Disposition, which is expected to be the final appropriation needed to allow the site to move forward on transfer, demolition, and remediation.

Missouri River Levee System in St. Joseph: The bill includes language that allows the City of St. Joseph and the Army Corps of Engineers to continue work on the Missouri River Levee System in the city. The Blunt language ensures that unfinished projects that have suffered a design deficiency resulting from past work are eligible for work plan dollars without the need for a new start authorization.

Army Corps of Engineers: The bill includes increases in funding for the Army Corps of Engineers’ Construction, Operations & Maintenance, and Mississippi River and Tributaries accounts. These funds are vital for the Corps to fulfill its flood control and navigation missions.

Water Infrastructure: While Environmental Protection Agency operating funds are reduced, the bill provides for $2.25 billion in State Revolving Funds to assist communities in upgrading their aging water infrastructure.

Opioid Epidemic:

Increases for Programs Directly Targeting Opioid Use Disorder: The bill includes an increase of $650 million to combat opioid abuse. Specifically, the bill provides a $50 million increase for Center for Disease Control and Prevention opioid abuse programs. It also includes a $51 million increase to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) for treatment and overdose reversal, of which $20 million is for Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act authorized programs. In addition, the bill provides $50 million for Community Health Centers treatment and prevention programs.

The funding increase builds off the $10 million opioid crisis grant SAMHSA recently awarded Missouri.


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