A publication of Appalachian Voices


A publication of Appalachian Voices

Politics

Congress Passes Budget Deal

In a last minute deal to avoid a government shutdown, Congress passed a compromise budget in late April that will fund federal obligations through September 2017.

The priorities set by the budget deal were in stark contrast to the Trump administration’s vision for funding the executive agencies and national defense, which was released in mid-March.

While Trump proposed eliminating nearly 20 agencies completely – including the Appalachian Regional Commission, an economic development agency that invests in workforce training and infrastructure needs like broadband – the budget deal retained these programs, even increasing the budget for the ARC by $6 million.

The deal also included a provision to fund health benefits for more than 22,000 retired coal miners. These benefits had been negotiated away during coal companies’ bankruptcy hearings and were set to expire at the end of April. The miners’ pensions remain unfunded.

The passage of this spending package provides a reprieve for numerous government programs the Trump administration sought to cut, including the Environmental Protection Agency, which enforces the federal Clean Water and Clean Air Act.

On May 23, President Trump released his 2018 plan for the three-quarters of the federal budget not covered by the plan released in March, largely anti-poverty measures. While this plan is unlikely to pass through Congress unchanged, it proposes significant cuts to programs such as food stamps, children’s health insurance and Medicaid. – Elizabeth E. Payne

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2017 — (June/July)

2017 — (June/July)