On a conference call today (Feb. 7) with reporters, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer announced that he successfully negotiated a bipartisan and historic agreement that will significantly increase federal investments on key priorities for New York State.
As the Senate Democratic Leader, Schumer led the effort in securing an increase in funds for programs that will help middle-class New Yorkers, all the way from upstate Buffalo to the east end of Long Island.
Specifically, the bipartisan budget deal will boost funds towards necessary programs that help in the fight against opioid and mental health epidemics, aid in the rebuilding of our crumbling VA hospitals, invest in community health centers, and bolster critical infrastructure.
Moreover, Schumer noted his push to secure a new law that will create a special commission to solve the multi-employer pension crisis currently impacting thousands of New York Teamsters.
“This bipartisan and historic agreement is a major shot in the arm for middle-class families from Western New York to Staten Island all the way to the eastern end of Long Island,” said Schumer. “The budget deal doesn’t have everything Democrats want; it doesn’t have everything the Republicans want, but it has what the American people need. It shows that bipartisanship still lives in Washington and that both parties can work together to address the issues affecting our nation. This deal includes funding to address the opioid scourge, fund Community Health Centers, improve infrastructure, address pensions, helps working families, makes childcare more affordable and gives our dairy farmers the support they need to stay competitive. I am proud to have worked with my colleagues across the aisle to secure this deal and will continue to fight for middle-class New Yorkers.”
He added, “This budget deal also includes long-awaited disaster relief for the areas impacted by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, and the western states devastated by wildfires. As many of these places are still taking their first steps in the long march to recovery, and much of Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands remains damaged and in the dark; This recovery aid could not come a moment too soon.”
Schumer outlined the following victories for New York State:
$6 billion for Fighting Opioid and Mental Health Crises
The opioid and heroin epidemic is one of the worst public health crises the nation has ever faced. Despite President Trump declaring the opioid crisis a public health emergency, his administration has put zero new dollars toward ending the scourge.
Schumer has been a leading advocate in the fight against the opioid and mental health epidemics. In fact, Schumer brought Stephanie Keegan, a Westchester resident, and mother of a veteran who overdosed on heroin while waiting to be seen at his local VA Hospital, to the State of the Union as his guest in an effort to draw national attention to the opioid crisis.
Additionally, earlier this year Schumer launched a public push to fight the deadly opioid crisis, noting the need to secure additional federal funds to help New York State beat back this scourge. Specifically, Schumer explained the impact this deadly crisis has had on individuals on Staten Island as well as Long Island, Westchester, Rockland and beyond.
Today’s agreement provides $6 billion to fund the fight against the opioid and mental health crises. This will be used for programs and reforms to address mental health care and opioid substance use disorders through prevention, treatment, and recovery programs.
$4 billion for Rebuilding our Crumbling VA Hospitals and Clinics
In recent years, Congress has increased investments in the VA health care system, but maintenance of VA hospitals and clinics and updates to existing buildings has been left behind.
Today’s agreement provides $4 billion over two years to invest in VA infrastructure. This will be used for: rebuilding and doing deferred maintenance on crumbling existing hospitals and unfinished construction projects, and addressing the more than 70,000 identified code deficiencies at hospitals and clinics across the country.
More than $7 billion to Community Health Centers, Teaching Health Centers and the National Health Service Corps.
Schumer said Community Health Centers are vital to New York State’s healthcare delivery system, providing primary care services to individuals with and without insurance in both rural and urban settings.
According to the Community Healthcare Association of New York, these centers serve more than 2.2 million patients, or 1 in 9 New Yorkers, at more than 750 sites statewide while employing more than 30,000 full-time workers.
CHCANYS estimates that CHCs have a $4.4 billion economic impact statewide.
Schumer added that as New York faces a primary care shortage, CHCs operate as a critical backstop to patients across the economic and geographic spectrum.
Last month, Schumer visited the Syracuse Community Healthcare Center to reaffirm his continued fight and commitment to restore and expand funding for Community Health Centers.
The more than $7 billion for two years invested in CHCs is an unprecedented funding level for this program. The new, multi-year investments in Teaching Health Centers (located in 24 states) and the National Health Service Corps will help train the next generation of providers and help place doctors in underserved areas that are in desperate need of them.
$20 billion to Bolster Our Country’s Infrastructure
Too many communities around the country lack the resources to build or maintain essential infrastructure for their residents – especially water, wastewater, and high-speed internet.
All across the country, projects are left on the drawing board because of a lack of available funding, as federal investments in infrastructure have not kept pace with the growing backlog of projects.
Today’s agreement provides $20 billion over two years for federal infrastructure investments to help address the extensive backlog of highway, transit, rail, clean water, and wastewater projects as well as for significant new investments in high-speed internet deployment. These investments can begin the process of repairing our nation’s crumbling infrastructure and create good-paying jobs for thousands of Americans.
New Law Creating a Special Commission to Solve the Multiemployer Pension Crisis
As part of the bipartisan budget agreement, Schumer secured a new law creating a Joint Select Committee to Solve the Multiemployer Pension Crisis which will introduce bipartisan legislation to address the multiemployer pension crisis by December this year:
Millions of pensioners – including those in the Central States Fund – miners, and others, through no fault of their own, have lived under the threat of cuts to their hard-earned pension benefits.
Earlier this year, Schumer met with Syracuse, Albany area and Long Island-area teamsters who have suffered pension benefit cuts. The New York State Conference Teamsters multiemployer pension plan and the Long Island 707 Teamsters pension plans are in finical trouble and. These plans have received drastic benefit cuts.
Which is why, Schumer, along with his Democratic conference colleagues in the U.S. Senate, pushed to include a new law to ensure that a Joint Select Committee will issue a report on a legislative fix by December 2018.
This is a critical step in ensuring that there is legislative action to protect Americans’ hard-earned pensions.
Increased funding for the Social Security Administration so that seniors and other beneficiaries get better services from regional offices.
Since FY2010, the SAA Administration and expenses account, which supports claim processing, drop-in centers, and the hotline, has received a cut of 16 percent, adjusted for inflation.
This is a loss of 10,000 employees, 64 closed field offices including 12 in New York, and reduced hours.
Claims appeals and even routine inquiries are taking longer to process.
This is impacting people on a very real level and causing not only frustration but sometimes financial hardship.
Providing Dairy Farmers, Including That Upstate, With Much-Needed Relief
Schumer said that America’s dairy farmers needed immediate relief before the next Farm Bill.
The 2014 Farm Bill provided our nation’s dairy farmers with a new risk management tool to protect against low prices and high feed costs. Unfortunately, that new program, the Margin Protection Program has not worked as intended.
Since 2014, prices have dropped by more than a third and dairy farmers have struggled without a reliable safety net.
Today’s agreement would fix problems with the old MPP and provide a pathway to new, customizable insurance tools in the future.
Specifically, this proposal would: Make a significant investment for dairy; Invest more than $1 billion into the dairy safety net for family dairy farmers; Increase affordability; Eliminate or slash premiums by up to 80 percent for small and medium dairy farms; Target those most in need; Waives administrative fees for beginning, veteran, and underserved farmers; Make farmer-friendly improvements; Make the program more responsive to drops in prices and increases in feed costs, and trigger payments more quickly; Allow flexibility; Provide farmers with an immediate chance to sign-up or change coverage levels for 2018 coverage; Create new opportunities for insurance; Remove arbitrary limits on developing new dairy insurance tools in the future, allowing for the creation of customizable dairy risk management tools.
$5.8 billion to Make Affordable Child Care More Accessible to Working Families
High-quality child care is essential to enable parents to get and keep a job and to give children a strong start toward success in school and life. Unfortunately, it is out of reach for many families.
Schumer helped secure $5.8 billion over two years for the Child Care and Development Block Grant.
This will fully fund the program as it was authorized with bipartisan support in 2014, and it will add tens of thousands of new slots for working families who need access to affordable child care.
$4 billion for Student-Centered Programs that Aid College Completion & Affordability
Schumer secured $4 billion over two years for college affordability, including programs that help police officers, teachers, and firefighters.
With the cost of higher education growing each year along with the burden of student loan debt, Schumer and his colleagues have been fighting to make higher education more affordable and expand access to educational opportunities.
$2 billion to Fund Game-Changing Research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Schumer helped secure an additional $2 billion over two years for important research at NIH, including cancer, opioids, Alzheimer’s disease research, brain research, and combating antibiotic-resistant bacteria initiative, as well as for the NIH’s basic and clinical research conducted across the institutes and centers.
The NIH is in the midst of cutting-edge research that will advance our ability to treat cancer and disease. It is critical that our nation’s scientists and medical researchers be able to continue the important work they are doing. This deal means that they can.
Investment for ALL communities impacted by Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, and the wildfires out west:
Secured roughly $89 billion in funding to recover and rebuild stronger from last year’s major natural disasters.
· $23.5 billion for the FEMA Disaster Relief Fund for recovery, repairs and future mitigation
· $28 billion in Community Development Block Grants for housing, infrastructure repairs, economic revitalization, and other needs, including $12 billion for mitigation
o Includes $2 billion directed to help Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands rebuild and improve their electric grids in a more resilient and energy efficient way, and flexibility in FEMA funding for the territories to build their grids and other critical infrastructure back better
· $15 billion for Army Corps mitigation and resiliency projects
· $4.9 billion in Medicaid funds for Puerto Rico and USVI, and a 100 percent federal cost share for Medicaid while they recover from the hurricane disaster
Schumer said, “The budget deal is a win for all middle-class New Yorkers. It will do so much good for our military, and finally consign the arbitrary and pointless sequester caps to the ash heap of history.”