Breakdown of 2023 government funding bills and how it impacts Alabama

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U.S. Rep. Terri Sewell voted on Dec. 23 to pass the Fiscal Year 2023 omnibus government funding package. The 12-bill Consolidated Appropriations Act will avert a shutdown, fully fund the government through 2023, create good-paying jobs, and support working families in Alabama and across the nation.

“The programs that we choose to fund in the annual appropriations package are a direct reflection of the values that we as a nation hold dear,” said Rep. Sewell. “With this year’s government funding package we’re uplifting 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 in health care, broadband, wastewater infrastructure, food and housing assistance, Civil Rights historic preservation, and our cherished HBCUs.”

The omnibus advances some of the 7th District’s most pressing needs by:

  • Expanding Rural Broadband – The legislation invests more than $455 million for the expansion of broadband to provide economic development opportunities and improved education and healthcare services, including an additional $348 million for the ReConnect program. This is in addition to the $2 billion provided in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
  • Investing in Rural Water and Wastewater Infrastructure The legislation includes responsible infrastructure investments to help the country’s rural areas access essential utilities. This includes $1.47 billion for rural water and waste program loans, and over $500 million in water and waste grants for clean and reliable drinking water systems and sanitary waste disposal systems, which will provide safe drinking water to millions of rural residents. in addition to the $2 billion provided in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
  • Providing Rural Housing Loans and Rental Assistance – The bill provides a total of $30 billion in loan authority for the Single Family Housing Guaranteed Loan Program. The bill includes $1.25 billion in direct single family housing loans which provide home loan assistance to low-income rural families.
  • Funding Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Child Nutrition Programs – The bill provides $153.8 billion in required mandatory spending 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 lunches.
  • Supporting our Service Members – The bill provides an 11% increase in funding for military personnel to help offset the costs of higher rent and food prices.
  • Promoting Civil Rights Historic Preservation – The bill provides $205 million for the Historic Preservation Fund, including $30 million for competitive grants to preserve the 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, combat the opioid crisis, get more physicians into rural and underserved communities, support rural hospitals, and increase access to mental health care.
  • H.R. 2454 – Protecting Access to Ground Ambulance Medical Services Act: The bill will ensure that ambulance service providers, including rural providers and those in underserved communities, are able to continue delivering quality critical first responder and health care services. It would extend the current temporary Medicare ground ambulance reimbursement increases of 2% urban, 3% rural, and the super rural bonus payments for five years and would ensure that rural zip codes continue to be classified as rural following the 2020 Census zip code reclassification.
  • H.R. 3259 – NOPAIN ACT: The bill will combat the opioid crisis by breaking down barriers to non-opioid pain management for those 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 par with other separately paid drugs and devices in Medicare Part B.
  • H.R. 2256 – Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act: The omnibus includes language from Rep. Sewell’s Resident Physician Shortage Reduction Act which will address the nation’s physician shortage by adding 200 Medicare-funded graduate medical education (GME) residency positions.
  • H.R. 1887 – Rural Hospitals Support Act: The bill will provide a lifeline to rural hospitals by extending the Medicare low-volume hospital payment adjustment for two years through September 30, 2024.
  • H.R. 8892 – Access to Mental Health Services Act: The bill will break down barriers to mental health services, identify gaps in mental health coverage under private insurance, and help mental and behavioral health care providers better treat patients in accordance with best-practices.

Rep. Sewell also secured the inclusion of her bill to make it easier for part-time workers to save for retirement. H.R. 2944 will allow part-time workers to begin saving for retirement sooner by reducing the number of years of service required to make retirement contributions. As women are more likely to work part-time than men, this provision is particularly important for women in the workforce.

The legislation also includes the Additional Ukraine Supplemental Appropriations Act which provides $45 billion in emergency funding to support the Ukrainian people, defend global democracy in the wake of Russia’s unprovoked attack on Ukraine, and for other purposes. The Disaster Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act includes $27 billion in emergency funding to respond to the devastation that recent natural disasters and extreme weather events have left behind and help families, small businesses, and entire communities recover, $1 billion for increased investments in scientific and environmental research, and $10 billion for other non-defense programs.

The package passed the House Dec. 23 by a vote of 225 to 201. Having previously passed the Senate, it now heads to President Biden’s desk to be signed into law.

Categories: Alabama News, Local News