Joe Courtney

09/22/2020 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 09/22/2020 20:53

Courtney Votes to Support Eastern Connecticut Priorities, Avoid Looming Government Shutdown

WASHINGTON, DC - Today, Congressman Joe Courtney (CT-02) voted in favor of H.R. 8337, the Continuing Appropriations Act (CR) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021, which would fund the federal government through December 11, 2020, avoiding an impending October 1st government shutdown. The bipartisan agreement contains several key priorities for eastern Connecticut that Rep. Courtney has worked to advance, including critical support to avoid disruptions in the upcoming construction of the first two submarines in the Columbia-class submarine program in Groton, support for members of the U.S. Coast Guard, an extension of important nutrition programs and for hemp pilot programs relied on by New England farmers, and more. H.R. 8337 passed the House of Representatives this evening by a vote of 359-57-1.

'Today's passage of the bipartisan Consolidated Appropriations Act keeps the government open, and it ensures that construction of the Columbia-class submarine program will move ahead on schedule,' said Congressman Courtney. 'After working as Chairman of the Seapower Subcommittee to ensure that this year's NDAA included contracting authority for the first two Columbia-class submarines, my colleagues and I worked to make certain that this resolution included the specific authorizations needed for the program to move ahead on schedule this fall-which isn't typical under an ordinary CR. H.R. 8337 also included extensions for the summer meal service and other school meal flexibilities authorized in the bipartisan Families First Act through FY 2021, which is crucial right now amid COVID-19. This bipartisan bill avoids a costly government shutdown when we can least afford it, and the Senate should vote to pass it without delay.'

Highlights of H.R. 8319 include:

Strong Support for the Columbia-Class Submarine Program-H.R. 8337 makes apportioned funding available for the Columbia-class Submarine procurement program during the period of the Continuing Resolution, and allows the Navy to enter into a contract award which supports the procurement of the first two Columbia-class Submarines. The provision allows for incremental funding authority and contains liability provisions for the Federal Government. As Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces, Courtney led the effort to authorize $4 billion to initiate construction of the first Columbia-class submarine in the FY 2021 NDAA. The bill also included Courtney's provision to authorize incremental funding for these submarines within the National Sea Based Deterrence Fund, which will ensure the cost-effective and efficient construction of this important program.

Support for Eastern Connecticut Hemp Farmers-The Continuing Appropriations Act would extend the authorization for hemp pilot programs through September 30, 2021, giving states like Connecticut more time to get their hemp pilot programs approved. Courtney has long supported industrial hemp production as an economic opportunity for farmers in eastern Connecticut, click here to learn more.

Protections for Federal Workers Amid COVID-19-H.R. 8337 would restrict the furlough or termination of federal employees due to lack of funds during the duration of the CR.

Increased Flexibility to Process SBA Disaster Loans-The bill allows a higher spending rate for the Small Business Administration (SBA) to continue to process and service new and existing disaster loans, particularly given the increased demand.

Support for the U.S. Coast Guard- H.R. 8337 authorizes the Coast Guard to use Operations and Support funding to pay the salaries of Coast Guard employees who are normally paid through fee collections, which have decreased during the pandemic.

Support for Community Health Centers-The CR extends funding for Community Health Centers, National Health Service Corps, and the Teaching Health Centers Graduate Medical Education Program through December 11, 2020.

Medicare Part B Premium Adjustment-H.R. 8337 protects Medicare beneficiaries from the expected increase in Part B premiums for 2021 likely to result from the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Medicare Accelerated and Advance Payment Program-The CR reduces the interest rate to 4% (from 10.25%) and extends the period before repayment begins and the period before the balance must be repaid in full for hospitals that received special loans to cover costs and lost revenue during the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Extension of the Summer EBT Program-The Continuing Appropriations Act allows the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service to spend at a higher rate during the CR period to ensure the Summer EBT program is fully operational by May 2021.

Nutritional Support for Seniors-H.R. 8337 provides support for the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, and allows the USDA's Food and Nutrition Service to spend at a higher rate during the CR period to provide supplemental USDA foods to low-income seniors (age 60 and over) and to some low-income women, infants, and children up to age six.

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)-H.R. 8337 extends authorization for the NFIP through September 30, 2021.

Extension of the Summer Meal Service and other School Meal Flexibilities-The Families First Coronavirus Response Act empowered USDA to offer schools flexibility so that they could continue to serve kids during unprecedented times. These waivers have allowed for needed innovation and flexibility such as allowing schools to deliver meals or offer grab-and-go meals; to offer free meals to all children through the Summer Food Service Program without additional paperwork; allowing parents or guardians to pick up meals without a child present; and more. The CR extends USDA's authority to provide this flexibility through FY 2021.

Extending Flexibilities in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)-The CR extends critical flexibilities in the WIC program that allow participants to receive services through remote appointments and provide key administrative relief to WIC program staff.