Senate Committee Approves FY2019 Labor, HHS & Education Appropriations Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) today supported committee passage of an appropriations bill that will boost workforce training programs, rural health initiatives, and opioid treatment and prevention.

The FY2019 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (Labor-HHS) Appropriations Bill was approved, 30-1, by the Senate Appropriations Committee.  Hyde-Smith supported approval of the bill as a member of the committee and the Labor-HHS subcommittee.

“This is not a perfect bill, but it would provide resources to support rural health and workforce training programs that benefit Mississippi.  I hope further improvements can be made as the Senate considers this legislation and moves toward negotiations with the House,” Hyde-Smith said.

The Senate bill includes $30 million in Department of Labor funding for a Rural Workforce Training Initiative to support workers who have lost jobs in the Appalachian and Delta regions.  The bill also increases funding to support effective apprenticeship programs, the likes of which are taking root in Mississippi.

“Mississippi has made it a priority to develop a work-ready workforce that is trained for manufacturing and other skilled jobs.  Programs funded in this bill can support those goals,” Hyde-Smith said.

Rural health program funding is also increased in the Senate bill, which provides $20 million for the Delta States Rural Development Network Grant program to help small and rural hospitals improve financial and operational performance.  Rural telehealth programs will receive funding to expand the use of telecommunications technologies to link rural health providers and patients with specialists.

Education funding in the bill prioritizes programs that give states and local school districts flexibility in the use of federal resources.  It increases funding for STEM education programs, including flexible grant funding that school districts can use for a wide-range of activities.  Charter school grant funding is increased, including $7.5 million to expand charter schools in rural areas.

The bill also continues to provide resources to fight opioid abuse, targeting improved treatment and prevention efforts, alternative pain medications, and workforce needs, especially in rural communities.  HHS recently outlined additional FY2018 opioid-related funding for Mississippi.

Finally, the bill does not provide new funding for the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare, and continues stringent congressional oversight provisions and pro-life protections.

The FY2019 Labor-HHS Appropriations Bill is the last of the 12 annual funding bills to be approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee.