U.S. Representative Terri Sewell voted Dec. 23 to pass the government’s omnibus funding package for fiscal year 2023. The 12-vote consolidated appropriation bill will avert a shutdown, fully fund the government through 2023, create well-paying jobs and supporting working families in Alabama and across the country.
“The programs we choose to fund through annual appropriations directly reflect the values we hold dear as a nation,” Rep. Sewell said. “Through this year’s government funding program, we are helping working families, creating jobs, strengthening our economy and protecting democracy at home and abroad. The package also makes key investments critical to the success of Alabama’s 7th District, including health care, broadband, wastewater infrastructure, food and housing assistance, historic preservation of rights civilians and our dear HBCUs.
The omnibus meets some of the most urgent needs of the 7th arrondissement by:
- Extend rural broadband – The legislation invests more than $455 million for broadband expansion to provide economic development opportunities and improve education and health services, including an additional $348 million for the ReConnect program. This is in addition to the $2 billion provided for in the infrastructure investment and jobs act.
- Invest in rural water supply and wastewater treatment infrastructure – The legislation includes responsible investments in infrastructure to help rural areas of the country access essential public services. This includes $1.47 billion for rural water and waste program loans and more than $500 million in water and waste grants for drinking water and sewage systems. clean and reliable sanitary waste, which will provide drinking water to millions of rural residents. in addition to the $2 billion provided for in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
- Provide rural housing loans and housing assistance – The bill provides a total of $30 billion in loan authorization for the Single Family Home Secured Loan Program. The bill includes $1.25 billion in direct single-family housing loans that provide home loan assistance to low-income rural families.
- Funding for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Child Nutrition Programs – The bill provides $153.8 billion in mandatory spending required for SNAP, including $3 billion for the SNAP reserve fund, which will serve more than 43 million people. It also includes $40 million for the Summer EBT program, $3 million for school breakfast expansion grants, and $5.2 billion for school meals.
- Support our service members – The bill calls for an 11% increase in funding for military personnel to help offset the costs of rising rent and food prices.
- Promote historic preservation of civil rights – The bill provides $205 million for the Historic Preservation Fund, including $30 million for competitive grants to preserve sites and stories of the Civil Rights Movement, and $11 million for HBCUs.
- Funding our HBCUs – The bill provides $396 million for HBCUs, an increase of $33 million for the FY22 funding level. The omnibus also contains a number of health care bills. These bills will protect access to ambulance services, fight the opioid crisis, attract more doctors to rural and underserved communities, support rural hospitals, and improve access to mental health care.
- HR 2454 – Land Ambulance Medical Services Access Protection Act: The bill will ensure that ambulance service providers, including rural providers and those in underserved communities, can continue to provide quality first responder and essential health care services. It would extend current temporary Medicare land ambulance reimbursement increases of 2% urban, 3% rural, and super rural bonus payments for five years and ensure that rural ZIP codes continue to be classified as rural after the reclassification of postal codes from the 2020 census.
- HR 3259 – NO BREAD LAW: The bill will combat the opioid crisis by removing barriers to non-opioid pain management for people enrolled in Medicare. Specifically, it will address payment disincentives for practitioners to prescribe non-opioid treatment alternatives in surgical settings by requiring the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to place non-opioid treatments on equal footing. with other drugs and devices paid for separately in Medicare Part B.
- HR 2256 – Resident Shortage Reduction Act: The omnibus includes language from Rep. Sewell’s Residency Shortage Alleviation Act, which will address the nation’s physician shortage by adding 200 Medicare-funded graduate medical education (GME) residency positions.
- HR 1887 – Rural Hospital Support Act: The bill will provide a lifeline to rural hospitals by extending Medicare’s low-volume hospital payment adjustment for two years through September 30, 2024.
- HR 8892 – Mental Health Services Access Act: The bill will remove barriers to mental health services, identify gaps in private insurance mental health coverage, and help mental and behavioral health care providers better treat patients in accordance with best practices.
Rep. Sewell also won the inclusion of her bill to make it easier for part-time workers to save for retirement. HR 2944 allow part-time workers to start saving for retirement sooner by reducing the number of years of service required to contribute to retirement. As women are more likely to work part-time than men, this provision is particularly important for working women.
The legislation also includes the Supplementary Appropriations for Ukraine Act, which provides $45 billion in emergency funding to support the people of Ukraine, defend global democracy in the wake of Russia’s unprovoked attack on the Ukraine and for other purposes. The Disaster Relief Supplementary Appropriation Act includes $27 billion in emergency funding to respond to the devastation caused by recent natural disasters and extreme weather events and to help families, small businesses and communities to recover, $1 billion for increased investments in scientific and environmental research, and $10 billion for other non-defence programs.
The package passed the House on Dec. 23 by a vote of 225 to 201. After passing the Senate, it is now heading to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.