Rural America Would Benefit from Bipartisan Senate Budget Deal

Investment in Rural America is a big part of the bipartisan budget deal reached today in the Senate. The compromise would allow the Pentagon and other agencies to do some longer-term planning, for change – a luxury not afforded the federal government since the Trump administration took office.

The only question now is will House Republicans and the White House allow this deal, which includes fully repealing the funding-limiting domestic sequester caps, avoids another government shutdown, and would lift the federal debt ceiling through March 2019, a move urged by Treasury officials, who fear running out of money next month because of the GOP tax cuts.

The budget agreement was announced a day after Trump said, “If we have to shut it down because the Democrats don’t want safety, and unrelated but still related, they don’t want to take care of our military, then shut it down. We’ll go with another shutdown.”

Clearly the Democrats care about safety and the Pentagon with this deal. Both sides agreed $160 billion would go to the Pentagon and it leaves for another day the debate on immigration issues.

Along with the Defense funding, Democratic negotiators pressed for $131 billion in domestic investment, a significant chunk of which will directly benefit Rural Americans. The deal includes:

  • $90 billion in overdue disaster aid for hurricane-ravaged Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, and areas hit by Western wildfires
  • $20 billion for existing infrastructure programs, Rural Broadband, Rural Water and Wastewater, roads and highways, clean and safe drinking water, and energy infrastructure
  • $6 billion to fight the opioid and mental health crises that have become an epidemic in Rural States
  • $4 billion for Veterans Hospitals and clinics
  • $5.8 billion for the Child Care Development Block Grant program
  • $4 billion to help make college more affordable, including programs that help police officers, teachers, and firefighters
  • $2 billion for critical research at the National Institutes of Health amid this deadly flu outbreak

Now the deal is in hands of House Republicans and the White House. Let your lawmakers know they should do the deal and avoid another government shutdown.

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