House Finalizes Budget

mikebeat2 edited-1VERMONT— The final day of April proved to be a busy one for the Vermont Senate and House Appropriations Committee. Leaders finally completed negotiations regarding a budget bill to fund the government through September 30. 

 

“This is a good budget agreement for Vermont and for the nation,” said Senator Patrick Leahy, who negotiated the budget under his new role as Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The finalized agreement opposes several of the demands issued by President Trump, including his ideas for funding the Southern Border Wall. The State will be providing $577-million to commerce, justice, and science services, as well as allotting the Northern Border Regional Commission $10-million— a $2.5-million increase from the 2016 fiscal year.

“I am glad that we were able to reach a bipartisan agreement to keep the government of the American people open for business and avoid the devastating consequences of government shutdown,” said Leahy. “I am especially glad this agreement does not include a single penny for the construction of a misguided wall along our southern border.

Leahy continued to express how the President’s demands are absurd because he promised that Mexico would be funding the border wall— a wall that would be “nothing more than a monstrosity”.

Also on the bill is funding for Vermont Fish &Wildlife, granting the organization $2.5-million to help counter White-nose Bat Syndrome as well as protected funding for EPA’s State Revolving Funds. $54-million of funding will be given to the Tree and Woods Pests Program in order to fight invasive species. 

$125-million of funding is being out towards Small Business Development Centers and the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas (HIDTA) Program will be granted $254-million. $1-billion of the budget will be put towards movements in the opiod crisis with $480-million being out towards the prevention of drug abuse. 

“[This] agreement eliminates more than 160 poison pill riders that would have been devastating to the environment,” said Leahy. “Appropriations bills are where we set priorities and where those priorities become reality.”

The House and Senate floors are approaching an agreement. Should congress plan to enact large federal cuts in 2018, legislators may hold a special session in the fall of 2017.