December 17, 2019

Casten Votes to Fund the Government

Washington, D.C. – U.S Representative Sean Casten (IL-06) released the following statement after voting for government spending bills that would fund the government through fiscal year (FY) 2020.

The House passed two measures, the first of which included eight appropriations bill, passed by a 297-120 margin and the second measure which included four appropriations bills passed by a 280-138 margin. The package now heads to the Senate before going to President Trump's desk.

Casten said, "Today I voted for a spending package that would provide funding through FY 2020. This bill is crucial to ensuring the continuing operation of our government and I was glad to see many priorities reflected in the bill.

"I was pleased the package gave military and civil federal workers a pay raise, increased federal funding for election security grants and gun violence research. And while I was pleased it extended funding for community health centers, and repealed two important health care taxes, ultimately, I would have liked for the spending package to have gone farther.

"I believe that in the future it is important that we include provisions that address the seriousness of the climate crisis particularly within the Export-Import Bank reauthorization and the National Flood Insurance Program reauthorization. We have neglected the opportunity to make the structural reforms necessary to acknowledge that floods and other extreme weather events are increasing in severity due to climate change. While we cannot let perfect be the enemy of the good, I am optimistic that we will continue.

"While I wish several provisions were stronger and more robust, extensions of clean energy tax credits were included, the benefits of the spending package outweigh the costs. As someone who has advocated for various provisions to prevent the spread of domestic terrorism, increase research for gun violence, and election security, I was proud to vote for this critical spending bill. We cannot keep kicking the can down the road. This bill will provide that certainty."

Additional background on domestic-provisions Casten supports within the bill:

  • Funding to prevent the spread of domestic, white nationalist terrorism.
    • The appropriations package provides $7.5 million for the Office of Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention in DHS, an increase of $4.7 million over the previous year. The provision was led by Congressman Tom Malinowski (NJ-7). Earlier this month, Casten signed onto a letter urging the Appropriations Committee for new funding for the Office of Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention in DHS.
    • It also provides $10 million to reestablish the Targeted Violence and Terrorism Prevention Grants program at DHS, which is the main vehicle used by the federal government to fund terrorism prevention and deradicalization efforts by state and local law enforcement and by non-governmental organizations.
    • According to the Anti-Defamation league, 100 percent of deadly terrorist attacks in the United States in 2018 were committed by domestic extremists groups
  • The package also includes $25 million total to the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for gun violence research.

Health-Specific Provisions

The measure would permanently repeal two important taxes imposed under the Affordable Care Act:

  • The "Cadillac" tax on high-cost employer health plans, which is scheduled to take effect in 2022. The tax was originally set to take effect in 2018 and apply to employer-sponsored health plans that in that year cost more than $10,200 for individuals and $27,500 for families. The rate is set at 40% of coverage costs that exceed those thresholds, which will be adjusted annually for inflation.
  • A 2.3% tax on medical devices, which is currently suspended through Dec. 31, 2019. The tax applies to devices such as hip implants and pacemakers sold by a manufacturer, producer, or importer.

Extend funding for Community Health Centers:

  • While Casten pushed for more funding for Community Health Centers, the measure would extend funding for a number of community health programs through May 22, 2020.

Other health provisions include:

  • The CREATES Act which would allow generic-drug developers access to drug samples needed to develop lower cost generics. This measure is a start, but enough to lower drug prices for all. While we need real action to pass H.R. 3 the Lower Drug Prices Now Act to allow Medicare to directly negotiate the price of prescription drugs.
  • Raising the smoking age from 18 to 21 years of age.