Wicker: Mississippi Priorities Funded by Spending Bill

Measure Includes Critical Tax Relief, Cybersecurity Provisions

December 18, 2015

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., today voted in favor of a comprehensive bill to fund the federal government for the fiscal year. The measure also includes important reforms to strengthen the nation’s cybersecurity laws and to provide tax relief for many American families, farmers and ranchers, and small businesses. The Senate passed the bill by a vote of 65-33.

“Funding the federal government is a constitutional responsibility,” Wicker said. “This legislation is not perfect. It does, however, include provisions that provide stability for our armed forces and prioritizes the needs of many Mississippi families and businesses. I support the important progress made to rebuild our military strength after years of misguided budget cuts. In addition to important tax relief and essential cybersecurity reforms, the legislation also advances care for our veterans, encourages economic development, and makes improvements to Mississippi’s infrastructure.”

The spending bill also delivers an important victory by stopping a proposal that would have forced Mississippi and other states to allow large trucks to pull double 33-foot trailers on their roads. For the past year, Wicker has spearheaded an effort opposing this federal mandate. Currently, 38 states do not allow these longer trucks to operate within their jurisdictions. One study estimates that twin 33s would put more wear and tear on our nation’s roads, adding $1.2 billion to $1.8 billion in maintenance costs per year.

“I am especially pleased that the provision to force longer trucks on our nation’s highway and byways was left on the cutting room floor,” Wicker concluded. “This is a victory for public safety, states’ rights, and hard-working taxpayers.”

The bill adheres to the spending caps outlined by the budget agreement that was passed by Congress in October. The bill now awaits President Obama’s signature to be enacted into law.

A number of provisions in the spending bill will benefit Mississippi communities. These include:

Holding the line on funding for the Environmental Protection Agency, and maintaining the agency’s lowest staffing levels since 1989;
• Reducing the IRS budget by a total of $1.2 billion since 2010, cutting the agency’s number of seasonal and full-time employees by 18,000;
Funding for a new amphibious ship and two new destroyers that will bolster our state’s vibrant shipbuilding industry;
Funding the construction of 28 new UH-72A Light Utility Helicopters;
• Delivering needed resources for the National Center of Excellence for Unmanned Aircraft Systems;
• Boosting funding for veterans’ health care, benefit claims processing, medical research, and technology upgrades;
Prohibiting the Obama Administration from transferring terrorists from Guantanamo to the United States;
Stopping a taxpayer bailout of health insurance companies operating under Obamacare’s Risk Corridor Program;
• Suspending two of Obamacare’s most harmful taxes;
• Increasing funding for Alzheimer’s research;
• Providing regulatory relief for long-term care hospitals;
• Maintaining support for community health centers, which play a vital role in providing health care to our state’s medically underserved populations.
• Supporting pro-life policies by outlawing federal funding for abortion;
• Strengthening economic development, workforce training, and rural broadband capabilities through the Appalachian Regional Commission;
• Supporting rural wireless networks by prohibiting the Federal Communications Commission from making ill-advised changes to the Mobility Fund;
• Backing a competitive grant program to help rural and small communities provide clean, safe drinking water;
• Allocating funds to complete wastewater infrastructure projects and support the Inland Waterway Trust Fund;
• Starting up the new Gulf Coast Working Group with the goal of restoring passenger rail service to the Gulf Coast;
• Allocating funds to back efforts related to geospatial modeling, ocean and coastal mapping, the National Data Buoy Center, and research in the northern Gulf of Mexico;
• Delivering additional resources for the continued development and implementation of the COASTAL Act;
• Directing spending to projects aimed at commercializing carbon capture technology;
• Giving farmers and ranchers the tools they need to engage in meaningful land conservation by making permanent an enhanced tax incentive; and
• Extending permanent tax relief for small businesses purchasing farm equipment, and leveling the playing field for local timber businesses.