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ROGER WICKER: Funding bill will advance Trump agenda

This is a major achievement for President Trump, and I support his efforts. Without this bill, we would be continuing the spending priorities of the Obama era.

The comprehensive Fiscal Year 2017 appropriations bill also demonstrates how Republicans are committed to making the tough choices that need to be made to control federal spending. This bill adheres to the 2015 “Budget Control Act” and, at $1.1 trillion, continues a downward trend in discretionary spending. The bill, negotiated by the Trump White House, also seizes an opportunity to strengthen our defense and our border security – two key components of President Trump’s agenda. That would not have happened by kicking the can down the road and passing another extension of funding set during the Obama Administration. Rather, the appropriations bill sets into motion:

  • More defense spending. Congress met President Trump’s request for more defense funding to keep our troops prepared and to defeat the Islamic State. Republicans achieved these increases without sending any additional dollars to the Environmental Protection Agency or the Internal Revenue Service – refusing Democrats’ demand that military spending increases be matched with non-military spending increases.
  • More dollars for border security. Republicans have accomplished the largest spending increase for border security in nearly a decade. That includes funding for border infrastructure and surveillance technology. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will also have more resources to target and prosecute those who come to America illegally.
  • Support for educational success. By restoring year-round Pell Grants, Congress is equipping students with more resources to get their degrees quicker and enter the workforce. Lawmakers are also reaffirming the importance of school choice, increasing funding for charter schools and advancing the “Every Student Succeeds Act,” one of the largest transfers of power back to states, school districts, parents, and teachers in years.
  • Cuts to government programs. Congress has taken a step forward in eliminating bureaucratic excess – a major priority for President Trump. The appropriations bill cuts or consolidates more than 150 redundant programs or initiatives.
  • Protections for the unborn. The bill directs no appropriations to Planned Parenthood. It also ensures that the Hyde Amendment remains in place, banning any taxpayer dollars from funding abortions.
  • Defunding parts of Obamacare. The bill defunds some of the law’s most onerous provisions, including the bureaucratic Independent Payment Advisory Board, which would control health-care decisions for our seniors. It also prohibits funds from going to insurer bailouts and includes no new funding for Obamacare.

All of these reasons reaffirm why Congress was right to pass this appropriations bill. It marks a new chapter, in which the spending priorities of the Obama era are left behind and the Trump Administration’s agenda can move forward. This change was what Americans voted for in November.

ROGER WICKER is a U.S. Senator from Mississippi. Contact him at 330 W. Jefferson St., Tupelo, MS 38803 or call (662) 844-5010.