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The Voice: Policy – August 21, 2018
August 21, 2018

This week the Senate will resume debate on a spending bill for defense, health, labor and education for FY2019. Combined, the package covers 70 percent of discretionary funding. The defense portion of the bill includes $607 billion in regular Pentagon spending and $67.9 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations, or war funds. It would include a military pay increase of 2.6 percent, the highest in nine years. The Senate is using the House-passed defense appropriations bill as the vehicle for the package and a substitute amendment including the language of the Senate’s defense and Labor-HHS bills.
The Labor, Health and Human Services and Education measure includes $179.3 billion, $2.2 billion more than Congress appropriated for those agencies this fiscal year. The bill would total $1.06 trillion—5 percent more than in fiscal 2018—when mandatory funding is included, the bulk of which is for Medicare and Medicaid. Among other things, the measure includes increases for the National Institutes of Health, opioids abuse programs, and special education. On Monday the Senate plans to vote on two amendments. The first, offered by Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ), would provide $1 million for a firefighter cancer registry. The second, offered by Senator Deb Fischer (R-NE), would provide $10 million for POW/MIA within the Defense Personnel Accounting Agency.