Today, U.S. Congressman Harold “Hal” Rogers, Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, announced that the House of Representatives has passed the Fiscal Year (FY) 2012 Agriculture, Commerce/Justice/Science (CJS), and Transportation/Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations bills – also known as the “Mini-bus.” In addition, the package contains a Continuing Resolution (CR) to avoid a government shutdown and continues other federal operations until December 16, 2011 – or until Congress completes the remaining nine FY 2012 Appropriations bills. This CR is a “clean” extension and includes no new funding provisions. This important legislation passed on a bipartisan 298-121 vote and now awaits consideration by the U.S. Senate.
“The legislation passed today represents a bipartisan compromise that will prevent a potential government shutdown, support drug investigations and law enforcement, food and drug safety, transportation, and rural and economic development programs and services that Kentuckians rely on,” stated Rogers. “We also included a number of provisions that will reduce harmful regulations on employers, create a better environment for economic growth and job creation, and halt unnecessary government interference into the daily lives of Americans. This package represents significant progress in the budgetary work of Congress, and will put us one step closer to a return to regular order and the completion of all Appropriations bills for the fiscal year 2012.”
The conference agreement for the three bills upholds the overall regular base discretionary level of $1.043 trillion as agreed to in the Budget Control Act (BCA). This funding level is a decrease of $7 billion from last year, and represents a savings of $98 billion compared to the President’s request. The measure fulfills the GOP’s pledge to “root out government waste” and remove “costly and duplicative programs,” saving taxpayers millions through the elimination of 20 federal programs. The bill instead provides responsible funding for integral federal agencies and departments which facilitate public safety and health, improve infrastructure, protect the country’s most vulnerable citizens, and help grow the economy – including a number of programs of particular importance to Kentucky. Highlights from this conference report include:
·Targeted Resources to Combat the Ongoing Threat of Prescription Drug Abuse
Acknowledging that the prescription drug epidemic has become a threat across the nation, the bill includes $7 million for the Hal Rogers Prescription Drug Monitoring Program to facilitate the development of state-run prescription monitoring programs; $32 million for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to enhance regulatory and enforcement efforts to combat prescription drug abuse; $12.5 million to assist states and community clean up meth lab sites; and $35 million to support Drug Courts in communities around the country.
·Important Policy Items to Rein in the Administration’s Job-Killing Regulatory Overreach
The conference report contains several provisions to discourage government overreach in the daily lives of Americans, provide better oversight on the use of precious taxpayer dollars, and tighten the reins on harmful, job-killing federal regulations that make it harder for employers to create jobs. One of these items includes the prevention of heavy-handed school lunch regulations that would have cost financially strapped local school districts an estimated $7 billion over the next five years in compliance costs.
·Vital Funding for the Federal Surface Transportation Program
The conference agreement provides $39.9 billion for the federal highway program, which is the annual spending level set by the latest multi-year highway authorization bill. In Kentucky, this translates to over $675 million in road construction and improvements. In addition, the agreement provides $1.66 billion for the Federal Highway Administration’s Emergency Relief (ER) program, which assists states in rebuilding federal highways and bridges damaged by major natural disasters.
·Support for the Economic Development Administration (EDA)
The bill includes $257 million in base funding for the EDA and an additional $200 million in disaster relief funding to respond to recent natural disasters. This funding will support ongoing efforts of Kentucky’s many Area Development Districts to promote economic and community development around the Commonwealth.
·Critical Funding to Support Home Ownership in Low-Income Communities
The conference agreement provides $2.25 billion for rural development programs within the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This includes $42.5 million for the Section 502 Direct Loan Program, which will support approximately $900 million in direct single-family housing loans to make the dream of home ownership a reality for low-income families in Southern and Eastern Kentucky. In addition, the conference agreement provides $900 million for the rental assistance program to help provide affordable housing for rural low-income families and the elderly.
As Chairman of the Appropriations Committee, Congressman Rogers has led our country in reducing the federal deficit and restoring our country’s ailing economy. Through his leadership, Congress has cut real federal spending by $40 billion this year alone. For more information, visit www.halrogers.house.gov <http://www.halrogers.house.gov> .