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The House just passed the FY18 spending bill which provides funding for many key programs in the public interest. While it’s not a perfect bill, and we remain concerned about its effect on the deficit, the bill is considerably better than it could have been, and we are pleased the House passed it and hope the Senate does the same. U.S. PIRG’s program directors responded with these statements:
Ed Mierzwinski, Senior Director, Federal Consumer Programs:
"Importantly, the bill does not place the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau under Appropriations Committee control. We take this to mean that Congress understands that Bbank regulators must be independent of that politicized process. Financial Services Committee Ranking Member Rep. Maxine Waters (CA) deserves credit for her tireless work protecting the Consumer Bureau and all of Dodd-Frank, as does Senator Elizabeth Warren, a stalwart supporter of consumers."
Jeffrey Robinson, Senior Director, 21st Century Transportation Campaign:
“We are pleased to see an increase in funding for the critical areas affecting our nation’s transportation and infrastructure.The omnibus appropriations bill calls for an increase of $1 billion investment in the Department of Transportation TIGER grant program over fiscal year 2018. This program provides grants to state and local projects. However, the DOT needs to prioritize these funds for needed mass transit projects for a forward looking, 21st century transportation system."
Kaitlyn Vitez, Director, Campaign to Save Student Aid:
“Congress clearly heard the students who have been paying too much for college textbooks for too long, and set aside $5 million for a program to lower textbook costs. The omnibus bill makes a major investment in open textbooks, which are free to students, easily adaptable by faculty, and could save more than $50 million on material costs. Congressional leaders, especially Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), who leads on education appropriations issues in the Senate, and Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL), who has championed this issue for years, worked on a bipartisan basis to help financially-strapped college students. Congress also responded to students’ other financial aid priorities by eliminating the cuts to the Pell Grant reserve fund, raising the maximum award to $6,095, and investing $350 million into Public Service Loan Forgiveness. Clearly the United States will only benefit from a highly educated workforce and these programs will go a long way in ensuring higher education is available to the many not the few."
U.S PIRG will rely heavily on the Oversight Committees in both the House the Senate to ensure these funds are being used in a way which puts our country on the forefront globally and doesn’t needlessly add to the deficit in a way that puts more on the backs of working Americans.
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