Providing the resources to fight opioids, strengthen the military and fund medical research

Published 10:15 am Monday, October 1, 2018

Later this week, the fiscal year ends, and Congress is making progress on the appropriations process. Two weeks ago, we passed legislation that funds the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Energy, the Army Corps of Engineers and several other related agencies. Today, the House is taking up legislation that provides a full year of funding for the Department of Defense (DoD), the Department of Labor, the Department of Education, and the Department of Health and Human Services. This bill extends current funding levels for remaining agencies until December 7. While this legislation is by no means perfect, I voted to support robust funding for our servicemembers at home and abroad.
One of my highest responsibilities as your representative is to provide the resources necessary to keep our country safe. This legislation provides $674.4 billion for the DoD, and includes a much-deserved 2.6 percent pay raise for our men and women in uniform. The funding for the DoD builds on continuing efforts to restore our military preparedness by increasing the size of our armed forces; providing care for our troops, their families and veterans; and supplying funding for equipment and research. There are very real threats to our country, and it is imperative that we maintain a strong military to encourage peace and discourage those who would attack us. This bill continues support for the Overseas Contingency Operations, including the Global War on Terror efforts, by securing $67.9 billion in funding. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I will never apologize for voting to support our troops and ensure the men and women who put on a uniform to serve our great country have the resources they need.
Our military has for too long been severely underfunded, and in too many instances our troops have had to rely on outdated — and in some cases unsafe — technology and equipment. In 2017 alone, we lost four times as many troops in training accidents as in combat. This is unacceptable. Preparation is key for our military’s success, and this legislation will increase readiness by including $243 billion for training maintenance and base operations; over $96 billion for research and development of new defense systems and technologies; and $148 billion to replenish equipment. In combination with the investment we made in Fiscal Year 2018, we are on our way to fulfilling the president’s commitment to rebuild our military.
In addition to the funding for our troops, I’m also pleased this bill includes a $39 billion investment in the National Institutes of Health for medical research. Recently, I had the opportunity to meet with NIH Director Francis Collins, and let me tell you: our country is continuing to lead the way in not only fighting — but curing — many diseases. When you hear some of the new research described, it almost sounds like science fiction, but it’s not — it’s happening right now. This funding will provide the basis for developing treatment and cures for many types of cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s — just to name a few.
Additionally — and critically to East Tennessee — this legislation provides $6.7 billion to fight the opioid epidemic and provides support for Americans struggling with addiction. I’ll keep saying these statistics, because they’re shocking — more Tennesseans died from drug overdoses than from car wrecks in 2017, and nationally, this epidemic killed more people last year than the entire number of U.S. casualties in the Vietnam War. Earlier this month, East Tennessee received a number of critical grants that will help us fight this, and I’m confident this new funding will do even more to support our local efforts.
While there are good things in this package, I’m disappointed we have not been able to secure the necessary funding to build the wall President Trump has proposed for our southern border. Having been to the border, I can tell you a wall will do a lot in improving security. Until we have a secure border, our efforts to reform our immigration system will be a waste of time and resources. This legislation will require Congress to continue working on getting this funding, and I’m hopeful we’ll be able to secure even more funding than we did last year towards this national security priority.
You can rest assured I will continue to support legislation that provides for our troops and funds our priorities while also working to secure the funding needed to help advance the president’s agenda.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox