Last Friday morning shortly after midnight, the U.S. Senate voted 65-32 to pass an appropriations act that would fund the federal government through the end of fiscal year. The House approved the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018 on Thursday by a vote of 256-167. President Donald Trump signed the bill Friday afternoon.
Massachusetts Representatives Richard Neal, Niki Tsongas, Seth Moulton, Stephen Lynch, and William Keating voted yes; Jim McGovern, Joseph Kennedy III, Katherine Clark, and Michael Capuano voted no. Senators Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey voted no.
The bill will:
• Provide $88.1 billion to the Department of Health and Human Services (an increase of $10.1 billion over FY 2017);
• Provide $7.2 billion in discretionary budget authority for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (an increase of $1.1 billion over FY 2017), and loosen restrictions that have limited the CDC from studying gun violence;
• Provide $37 billion for the National Institutes of Health (an increase of $3 billion over FY 2017), and prohibit caps on administrative and facility fees paid to research institutions;
• Provide $21 billion for investments in infrastructure, including broadband connectivity and rural infrastructure;
• Provide $81.5 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) for construction of facilities, to reduce backlogs, and fulfill unfunded requirements;
• Provide $4 billion to combat the opioid crisis, including grants to states and localities to help offset costs associated with opioid abuse and funding to research opioid addiction and alternative pain management methods and treatment; and
• Provide nearly $1 billion for mental health programs.
Many of the controversial items that were being negotiated have been omitted from this package such as immigration reform and stabilization of the health insurance exchanges.
On Friday morning – hours before the Friday midnight deadline that would trigger a government shutdown – President Trump tweeted that he was considering vetoing the bill. The White House had indicated on Thursday that he would sign it. On Friday afternoon, the president switched direction and signed the measure.