Government affairs

Legislative Updates

Congress passes short-term funding thru April

Late on Dec. 9, Congress approved a short-term continuing resolution (CR), H.R. 2028, to fund the government through April 28. The measure extends current 2016 funding levels and includes an across-the-board 0.5 percent spending reduction to stay within limits for discretionary spending (a $1.067 trillion limit).

During last-minute negotiations on the CR, Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and other Democrats in coal country threatened to hold up the spending bill until it included a permanent solution to prevent more than 20,000 mineworkers from losing their health insurance and retirement benefits. The standoff threatened to derail the CR up until the last minute. In the end, lawmakers permitted temporary funding of miners’ benefits through April 2017, making a permanent solution the job of the 115th Congress. Without this temporary fix, the UMWA Health and Retirement Fund would have dried up by the end of the year. NALC remains committed to supporting our brothers and sisters at the UMWA.

In particular, the CR’s provisions included:

  • $170 million to help repair the lead-contaminated water system in Flint, MI. This includes grants for infrastructure improvements, lead poisoning prevention care for mothers and children and a lead exposure registry.
  • Nearly $872 to fund the 21st Century Cures Act, which aims to boost medical research, drug approval and drug-abuse prevention efforts. This includes $20 million for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), $352 million for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and $500 million for states to respond to the opioid abuse epidemic.
  • Approximately $4.1 billion in disaster relief for states affected by Hurricane Matthew, floods, droughts and other severe weather events.
  • An increase in the defense budget to $10 billion in uncapped funds to combat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). This includes $5.8 billion for the Department of Defense (DOD), $4.3 billion for the State Department and $5 million for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
  • A salary freeze for members of Congress, which has been in place since 2010.

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