News Releases

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Isakson: Government Funding Bill Includes Important Wins for Georgians

Georgia military bases, veterans, healthcare priorities part of package

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., today released the following statement announcing his support for the bipartisan fiscal year  2018 government funding measure to strengthen our national defense and fund priorities for Georgia and the country:

“This legislation achieves many of our long-term objectives for Georgia and America,” said Isakson. “This agreement ends crippling cuts to our national defense by delivering the largest increase in defense funding in 15 years. Georgia families will benefit from numerous provisions including funding for community health centers, school safety, training for new pediatricians and an improved federal response to the opioid crisis. Georgia farmers will see relief from burdensome regulations that were never intended to affect their operations. It also provides new resources for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, including critical funding for its biosecurity lab. Further, it includes funding to help maintain and improve our nation’s infrastructure and protects Georgia’s water interests. It also includes a measure that will help keep guns out of the hands of criminals while protecting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans.

“Our veterans have long been a priority for the president, and as chairman of the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, I’m extremely pleased that this commitment has translated into action time and again. This legislation backs up the actions we have taken to improve the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs with needed funding to provide the best care available. While I’m disappointed that we were not able to include important reforms to the veterans’ healthcare system and assistance to veterans’ family caregivers, I’m committed to continue working to advance that bipartisan legislation until it reaches the president’s desk. Our veterans deserve nothing less.”

Additional Isakson-supported provisions included in the agreement are below.

Savannah Harbor Expansion Project
The agreement includes a $337 million increase over the president’s original budget request for construction of U.S. Army Corps of Engineers navigation projects, such as the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project off the coast of Georgia. Isakson and the Georgia delegation will continue working from every angle to ensure that the project receives the full funding needed, roughly $80-100 million a year, and that the federal government fulfills its long-term commitment to this top-priority infrastructure project.

The agreement includes $81.5 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs, including an additional $2 billion for infrastructure programs to repair and enhance VA medical facilities and State Veterans Homes. Additionally, it specifies funds for mental health care, suicide prevention, homeless veterans services and opioid abuse treatment, and increases oversight of the VA. 

The agreement provides $405 million in specific funding directly for the recapitalization of the aging E-8 Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System platform, known as JSTARS and based at Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins, Ga. Further, it directs the secretary of the Air Force to neither transfer the funding from JSTARS recapitalization, nor utilize these funds for any purpose other than the JSTARS recapitalization program of record as presented with the fiscal year 2018 budget request, unless the congressional defense committees receive and approve a prior approval reprogramming request. 

A-10C Warthog
The agreement provides $103 million in funding for new wings for the A-10C Warthogs located at Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta, Ga.

Ohio Class Nuclear Submarines
The agreement provides $862 million for the Ohio Class Nuclear Submarine Replacement Program, which is located at Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base in St. Marys, Ga. 

National Instant Criminal Background Check System
The agreement includes Isakson-backed bipartisan legislation to strengthen the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), called the Fix NICS Act, to ensure federal and state authorities comply with existing law and accurately report required criminal history records to NICS. 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Isakson has worked to help ensure full funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) new biosecurity lab, and the agreement provides this funding along with a $1.1 billion increase for the Atlanta-based department and its vitally important mission at home and abroad. Earlier this week, Isakson signaled his approval of new CDC director Dr. Robert Redfield to lead the agency. 

Children’s Hospital Graduate Medical Education Program
The legislation funds the Children’s Hospital Graduate Medical Education Program to ensure that children’s hospitals have the support they need to provide adequate medical education for training of pediatricians and other residents. 

Opioid Epidemic
The agreement provides nearly $4 billion to combat the opioid epidemic harming families in Georgia and across America. 

Community Health Centers
The agreement provides funding to ensure community health centers can continue to provide high quality and affordable care to those in need. 

The legislation includes the Fair Agricultural Reporting Method Act to help protect Georgia poultry and cattle farmers from burdensome federal rules that were never intended to affect their operations. With this fix, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can focus on potentially harmful industrial pollution without further impeding the day-to-day business of farmers. 

It also includes language to amend the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Tree Assistance Program eligibility threshold for damages incurred during the various 2017 natural disasters. Isakson fought for the inclusion of this provision to benefit pecan farmers in Georgia who have largely been ineligible for disaster assistance before now.