WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), a member of the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee, on Tuesday applauded the passage of the Department of Defense and Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education spending bill. This legislation also contains funding for the rest of the government through December 7th. As a member of the Appropriations Committee, Murphy worked across the aisle to ensure bipartisan support for local manufacturing, expanding access to mental health care, and combatting the opioid epidemic.
“This is a good bill—it keeps our government funded and makes critical investments in our national security. I fought for a seat on the Appropriations Committee because I knew how important it is for our state to be in the room when these decisions are being made,” said Murphy. “Once again, this shows that our country relies on Connecticut to make the machines that protect our country. We should be proud that our workers set the standard. With this, plus critical support for senior workers, mental health care, and addiction, we were able to get some really important things in here.”
“However, I have two serious reservations about this bill, and I am putting my colleagues on notice that I am going to keep pressing on them in the coming months. First, it is absolutely outrageous that the Trump administration has indicated it believes the money in this bill can be used to fund their dangerous plan to give guns to teachers. Parents and educators in Connecticut are scared about what will go wrong if we put more guns in classrooms. Congress has made it clear that we don’t want taxpayer money to arm teachers – the Department of Education needs to listen,” Murphy added.
“Second, this bill continues our failed strategy of giving a blank check to the Saudi-led coalition that is currently responsible for a humanitarian disaster in Yemen. It’s long past time that we recognize that every civilian death in Yemen has an American imprint, as it is our weapons, targeting assistance, and refueling that are facilitating the campaign. I will keep fighting to put an end to this disaster,” Murphy continued.
The bill includes investments to address Connecticut priorities relating to:
- Nearly $3.8 billion to stem the opioid crisis, including $1.5 billion for State Opioid Response Grants.
- $1.86 billion for the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant to help state agencies to plan, implement, and evaluate activities that prevent and treat substance abuse and promote public health.
The legislation provides a total of $674.4 billion for the Department of Defense. This includes $606.5 billion in base discretionary funding – an increase of $17.0 billion above the fiscal year 2018 enacted level. The bill also provides $67.9 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO)/Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) funding. Connecticut manufacturing highlights include:
- Funds $4.3 billion for 2 Virginia class Submarines and $2.8 billion for advanced procurement of materials for future Virginia class submarines.
- Funds $542 million for research and development and $3.173 billion for advanced procurement for Columbia-class submarines, including $225 million for submarine industrial base expansion to increase capacity and create multiple suppliers for critical submarine components (Electric Boat)
- $9 billion for 93 F-35s, including an additional $1.7 billion for 16 additional F-35 aircraft above the presidents requested budget – 8 F-35A conventional takeoff and landing variants, 2 F-35B short takeoff/vertical landing variants, and 6 F-35C carrier variants. (Pratt and Whitney)
- $1.2 billion for 58 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters – $186 million for 9 additional Blackhawks above the president’s requested budget. (Sikorsky)
- $2.3 billion for 15 KC-46 tanker aircraft (Pratt and Whitney)
- $660 million for 10 Combat Rescue Helicopters (Sikorsky)
- 180 million - $32 million above the president’s requested budget - for New Design SSN (Electric Boat)
- $53 million – $10 million above the president’s requested budget – for Material Development Research
- $86 million -- $75 million above the president’s requested budget -- for Future Vertical Lift Helicopter Development Program (Sikorsky)
- $78 million – $20 million above the president’s requested budget – for Undersea Warfare Applied Research (UConn)
- Added $6.5 million for Air Force research and development for next generation heat exchangers (UTC)
- Includes multiyear procurement authority for Block 5 of Virginia class (Electric Boat)
- Includes a 2.6% pay raise for members of the Armed Forces.
This bill includes key programs from the Mental Health Reform Act authored by Murphy, including:
- $722 million for the Community Mental Health Block Grant for state agencies, such as the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, to support community mental health services.
- $50 million for the Promoting Integration of Primary and Behavioral Health Care program to help states promote integration between primary and behavioral health care for individuals with mental illness along with co-occurring physical health conditions. Connecticut recently received a 5 year, $10 million grant under this program.
- $75 million for Behavioral Health Workforce and Training to expand the mental health and substance abuse workforce, including master's level social workers, psychologists, counselors, marriage and family therapists, psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners, occupational therapists, psychology doctoral interns, and behavioral health paraprofessionals.
- Nearly $37 million for Mental and Behavioral Health Education Training to recruit and train professionals and faculty in the fields of social work, psychology, psychiatry, marriage and family therapy, substance abuse prevention and treatment, and other areas of mental and behavioral health.
- $10 million for Pediatric Mental Health Access teams to support pediatric mental health care telehealth access programs, such as ACCESS Mental Health in Connecticut, which provides free, timely consultative services for pediatricians and family providers seeking assistance in providing behavioral health care to children and adolescents.
- $12 million for National Suicide Prevention Lifeline program to support a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This is an increase of $4.8 million over the previous year.
- $5 million for Screening and Treatment for Maternal Depression to help states establish or improve programs to train professionals to screen, assess, and treat for maternal depression in women who are pregnant or who have given birth within the preceding 12 months.
- $5 million for Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health to support intensive early intervention for infants and young children who are at risk of developing or are showing signs of mental illness.
- $5 million for Assertive Community Treatment for Individuals with Serious Mental Illness to assist states and local governments in establishing Assertive Community Treatment programs (ACT). ACT is a team-based treatment model that provides multidisciplinary, flexible treatment and support to people with mental illness 24/7.
- $2 billion increase for the National Institutes of Health for a total of over $39 billion for biomedical research. If this funding is enacted, Congress will have increased NIH funding by $9 billion over the past four years. In Fiscal Year 2017, Connecticut institutions were awarded almost 1,200 NIH projects for a total of nearly $524 million.
- $5 million for the creation of the National Neurological Conditions Surveillance System, which was authorized in the 21st Century Cures Act through the Advancing Research for Neurological Diseases Act written by Murphy and U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.). The surveillance system will allow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to collect information on the incidence and prevalence of neurological diseases to facilitate research and improve public health.
- $400 million for the Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), a community service and work-based job training program for low-income or unemployed older Americans.