Local representatives vote for budget bill

WASHINGTON – Members of the U.S. House of Representatives in West Virginia and Ohio voted for the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2014 based on the compromise reached by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash.

The spending bill late prevents another government shutdown until October and sets spending limits for federal agencies until the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30.

The Ryan-Murray compromise reached in December stopped an automatic $63 billion in sequestration cuts in defense and non-defense spending over two years and saves $85 billion from cuts and new revenue in 10 years.

Rep. David McKinley, R-W.Va., Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, and Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., voted for the bill that passed the House 359-67. Most of the votes against were Republicans.

Johnson said the budget that cuts spending, prevents new funding for the Affordable Care Act and makes National Security a priority.

“For the first time since the Korean War, we have cut Washington discretionary spending in four consecutive years,” Johnson said.

McKinley called it a fair, bipartisan government funding bill. It also spends another $132 million for fossil fuel research and development at the National Energy Technology Laboratory in Morgantown, he said.

“Spending is lower than when President Obama took office so we’re making progress, but there’s still a lot more to be done,” he said.

Among highlights of the funding bill benefitting the 1st District, according to McKinley:

* Reduces EPA funding by $2.1 billion by scaling back regulatory overreach while enhancing oversight on climate change programs and the mining permit process.

* Increases funding for the Appalachian Regional Commission by $12 million.

* Provides more than $3 billion to the Community Development Block Grant Program.

The bill now goes to the Senate.

A key point in the bill is it delays increases in flood insurance premiums through Sept. 30, Capito said. Large increases in premiums are anticipated under the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act.

“By setting priorities, such as ensuring that more children have access to early education through Head Start, fully funding the federal highway bill, and spurring the next generation of energy research, this bill demonstrates that it is possible to reduce spending while supporting programs that are important to West Virginians,” Capito said.

Other key points according to Capito are:

* $8.6 billion for Head Start early childhood education, $1 billion more than fiscal year 2013.

* Nearly $41 billion for highways, the full amount authorized in last year’s transportation bill.

* $63.2 billion for the Veterans Affairs Department, which will help reduce the claims backlog. This is a $2.3 billion increase from fiscal year 2013.

* $562 million for fossil energy research in states such as West Virginia to develop new clean coal technologies.