By Mike Wallace
Last week, the Senate passed a $1.1 trillion spending bill that will fund the federal government for the remainder of FY 2014 and avoids another round of fiscal brinkmanship. The Senate action followed House passage of the bill with a vote of 359-67 earlier in the week.
In a statement calling for the bill’s passage, NLC President Mayor Chris Coleman said, “We urge Congress to act swiftly to pass the omnibus appropriations bill to keep the government funded and functioning over the next nine months. We recognize the bill cannot meet every priority, including some that affect cities and local communities, but the compromise is a high-water mark of bipartisan cooperation that we hope will continue in order to solve some of our nation’s other challenges. Last year’s government shutdown proved that failing to fund the government is simply unacceptable and the painful consequences are felt in communities across America.”
The $1.1 trillion appropriations bill largely keeps intact, and in some cases, restores funding for local priorities, including TIGER grants and the public transit “new starts” program, CDBG, the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund programs, the COPS program, housing vouchers for low-income families and veterans, the Head Start program and workforce investment programs. In general, these funding levels also offset some of the dangerous cuts that have been made to criminal justice and homeland security programs over the past few years.
With the federal fiscal debates solved for now, NLC is calling upon Congress to focus on unfinished business, including fixing the nation’s broken immigration system with a comprehensive reform bill, leveling the playing field between brick and mortar retailers and online ones by passing Marketplace Fairness, and addressing the nation’s infrastructure challenges.