Big Winners of Budget Bill? Opioid Epidemic and Military but What About the Dreamers?
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The four members of New Hampshire's Democratic congressional delegation said Friday they are pleased the bipartisan budget agreement provides $6 billion in additional funding to address the opioid epidemic and provides support for veterans, children's health insurance, and disaster relief.
"While the promise of additional funding in this agreement doesn't match the severity of the opioid crisis, it is an important step forward," Sen. Jeanne Shaheen said in a statement.
Sen. Maggie Hassan said it will help prevention, treatment and recovery providers.The budget also fully funds the Department of Defense, ensuring that the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and Pease Air National Guard Base have resources.
The White House was forced to order a government shutdown shortly after midnight Thursday, but leaders quickly hustled to move before federal employees were due back at work, hoping to minimize the disruption.
One subject the budget does not address is the plight of the Dreamers, young immigrants who've lived in the country illegally since they were children. Several weeks ago, Senate Democrats sparked a three-day partial government shutdown by staging a filibuster on a spending bill, seeking relief for Dreamers. "I'm hopeful that we can continue this bipartisan momentum and come together behind comprehensive immigration reform that will provide protections for young Dreamers," Rep. Annie Kuster said.
Rep. Carol Shea-Porter said President Donald Trump "manufactured a crisis" by deciding to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. "They are our neighbors, classmates, friends and family. They are veterans and service members. They are college students and scientists conducting cutting-edge research. And now they are afraid because this administration is threatening to deport them," she said.
The DACA program is set to expire on March 5.
Below are the New Hampshire delegation's statements in their entirety.
Sen. Jeanne Shaheen:
“This commitment to provide additional funding for opioid response efforts is a significant down payment. For too long, the federal response to the opioid epidemic has been nickeled and dimed. While the promise of additional funding in this agreement doesn’t match the severity of the opioid crisis, it is an important step forward. This agreement is the product of good faith bipartisan negotiations and should serve as a model for how we can continue to make progress on this and many other important issues. I’m very pleased that this provides a path forward for long-term government funding and relief from sequestration. Budget certainty is essential to our military readiness, including the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard and the Pease Air National Guard Base, as this agreement allows for much better long-term planning. It also finally provides additional investments in veterans care, community health centers, infrastructure and college affordability programs.”
Sen. Maggie Hassan:
“This bipartisan budget agreement will provide $6 billion in additional federal funding to combat the devastating opioid crisis, and it will give long-term stability to our budget and our military in order to expand economic opportunity for middle class families, support innovative businesses, and keep our nation safe. I am grateful to all of the members of our bipartisan Common Sense Coalition who worked together to find common ground and pave the way for an agreement that invests in critical priorities, including significantly increasing funding for prevention, treatment, and recovery providers on the front lines of the opioid crisis.”
Congresswoman Annie Kuster:
“It’s encouraging that Republicans and Democrats have put aside partisan differences to pass a budget that will benefit middle class families and advance priorities important to the Granite State. As the founder and co-chair of the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force, I’ve called for funding to address the opioid epidemic and I’m pleased this budget provides billions in critical resources for those on the frontlines of this crisis. It also provides support for our veterans and military members, our dairy farmers, children’s health insurance, community health centers, and disaster relief funding. I’m hopeful that we can continue this bipartisan momentum and come together behind comprehensive immigration reform that will provide protections for young Dreamers brought to the United States as children.”
Congresswoman Carol Shea Porter:
“House Republicans’ long and damaging budget process has revealed a sad truth – Washington Republicans do not know how to govern. By voting no on House Republicans’ wholly inadequate short-term funding bills, Democrats were ultimately successful in addressing the critical middle class American priorities that Congressional Republicans for months used as pawns to forward their partisan agenda.
“These budgeting decisions are made even more difficult now that Congressional Republicans increased the debt by at least $1.5 trillion to give tax breaks to the richest. This compromise agreement does not include everything it should. For example, although the bill contained desperately needed funding to combat the deadly opioid epidemic that is devastating New Hampshire communities, more funding is needed. But this bill does provide critical funding for veterans, for children and seniors, for disaster relief, for infrastructure, and for college affordability, among other priorities.
“This bill did not address the plight of the Dreamers, young people who came to this country as children. Donald Trump manufactured a crisis by deciding to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program. They are our neighbors, classmates, friends, and family. They are veterans and servicemembers. They are college students and scientists conducting cutting-edge research. And now they are afraid because this administration is threatening to deport them.
“This Republican Congress must do what is right. We must allow these young people to stay. Twice in the last month, two different bipartisan groups of Senators brought compromise legislation to the President. And each time, he rejected it, despite prior pledges that Dreamers would have ‘nothing to worry about.’ Speaker Ryan has said he won’t put a bill on the floor without the President’s approval. This is the people’s house, not Donald Trump’s, and we have one simple request: do the right thing and allow the American people a vote. It sickens me that House leadership is denying Members of Congress from both parties a vote on the floor because they know it will pass. I will keep demanding action to protect these innocent people.”
NH1 News contributed to this report.