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Dear Friend,

Today I supported President Trump and voted yes for the FY2017 omnibus appropriations legislation.  The bill passed the House this afternoon, and now makes its way to the Senate, where they will vote to send it on to President Trump who has already indicated that he will sign it.

Though there are some components of this bill that I am not happy with, passing this budget is a win for the Republican Party in that it marks the end of the Obama-era of continuing resolutions that overfed the federal government in a way that was wasteful and unsustainable, and withered our national defense to a point that was unsafe and unreasonable.  Just like your family, my family and successful businesses, government needs to be kept on a budget, not given boundless funds to grow out of control.
Not only does the legislation make great strides to fulfill the promises that President Trump and the Congress have made to the American people, it does great things for the economy and the people of Mississippi.
Here are a few of the positive aspects of the FY2017 omnibus appropriations bill:
It strengthens our military.  The Federal government is tasked with keeping America safe.  This bill provides $76.6 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations funding, including $15 billion of President Trump’s requests to begin to rebuild our armed forces and ensure that our troops have the training and equipment needed to maintain our military superiority.
Our state of Mississippi is ranked among the top five states as having the most National Guardsmen per capita.  There are few things more important than supporting our troops and their families both in Mississippi and across the United States.  In the face of radical Islamic terrorism, this bill provides $132.3 billion for military personnel, supporting 1,205,900 active-duty troops and 813,200 Guard and Reserve troops across the nation, and ensuring that we maintain a strong active and reserve force.  In addition, this bill fully funds a 2.1% pay raise for the American heroes who serve in our armed forces and risk their lives daily. This is the largest increase in six years.

The FY17 legislation stops, once and for all, the Obama Administration’s detrimental cuts to our military personnel levels by including $1.6 billion above their request for increased end strength. 
The substantial increase in defense spending will make important progress in ushering our military into the 21st century, and includes funding for new warships, aircrafts, weapons, and missile defense systems.

It supports local communities and education.  Centralized federal control is not the way to help communities, and it certainly is not the way to go about educating our children.  This legislation takes a different approach by supporting school choice.
The bill shifts funding from categorical education programs to a new flexible state block grant that expands access to a well-rounded education, improves school conditions, and helps implement the use of technology into our classrooms.  It also gives $3 billion back to local communities through Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), which supports locally-driven solutions, instead of the federal government’s one-size-fix-all solution.
The bill increases funding for charter schools by $9 million from the previous year and helps students with special needs by increasing funding for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act by $90 million from the previous year.
It keeps us safe at home and targets terrorism abroad.  The bill includes the largest increase for border security technology and infrastructure improvements in more than a decade.  It supports the president's request by providing Customs and Border Protection with $12.2 billion in funding, $911 million above the previous year, to put boots on the ground and improve technology along our border.
The bill includes President Trump’s request for $722 million to increase Border Patrol agent hiring, improve and maintain infrastructure, and invest in border technology; it also includes the $628 million President Trump requested for Immigration and Custom Enforcement to increase the number of detention beds and for transportation and removal costs for illegal immigrants.
This will go a long way towards keeping our homeland safe from potential terrorists coming in to our country illegally.  It also includes additional funding to defeat ISIS and counter radical extremism around the world.  It provides aid to our allies to combat Russian aggression, and it strengthens our relationship with Israel.
It protects life.  The bill reaffirms the Hyde Amendment, which bars the use of federal funds to pay for abortion. Despite what has been reported, the bill does not contain any set-aside or line-item for Planned Parenthood.  Unfortunately, the bill provides continued funding for existing programs including Title X of the Public Health Service Act, which Planned Parenthood affiliates are eligible to participate.  Though I am extremely unhappy about it, making Planned Parenthood ineligible to receive funds altogether does not have the support of 60 U.S. Senators, the amount needed to overcome a filibuster.  However, this doesn’t mean the fight is over:
There is another way.  The process known as “reconciliation” would allow the Senate to cut off the great bulk of funds to abortion providers.  This can be done with the passage of the American Health Care Act (AHCA).  The AHCA would block, for one year, most federal payments to affiliates of Planned Parenthood and reallocate those funds to more suitable community health centers.
I stand firm with President Trump and pro-life organizations like the National Right to Life in my commitment to protecting the life of the unborn in any way that I can, and the path of reconciliation through the American Health Care Act does just that.

Thank you for allowing me to serve you.

God Bless,

Gregg Harper
Member of Congress


5/3/17

Posted May 4, 2017 - 7:28 am

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