Congressman Bill Flores Statement Regarding Consolidated Appropriations Act
I issued the following statement regarding the passage of H.R. 133, the Consolidated Appropriations Act to fund the government through fiscal year 2021 and provide relief to hardworking American families and businesses who have been adversely affected by COVID-19:
Despite delays and distractions by Democrats, H.R. 133 is a clear victory for Republicans and President Trump. It is also a stunning defeat for Nancy Pelosi, who held up aid to small businesses and workers, delayed funding for vaccine procurement and development, all in an effort to hurt President Trump. Her strategy backfired – instead, Republicans were able to secure almost all of our priorities in this legislation, while denying Democrats their socialist defund, dismantle, and destroy wish list.
Some of the major accomplishments in this legislation include:
- $900 billion in total COVID-19 relief for Americans. This includes an extension of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), the extremely successful program created by Congress which has saved an estimated 50 million jobs nationwide.
- Allows businesses that previously received a PPP loan to apply again, while making it easier for businesses to deduct the expenses paid with loan proceeds.
- Improves the distribution of vaccines approved as a result of Operation Warp Speed. It includes $20 billion for the purchase of vaccines to ensure that any American who wants a COVID-19 vaccination can get one for free.
- Includes $48 billion for vaccine development, and an additional $20 billion to assist states with COVID-19 testing.
- Continues increased unemployment benefits through March of next year and includes a stimulus payment of $600 each to Americans making below $75,000.
- Fully funds our military and domestic programs, including a 3 percent pay raise for our troops, and $1.375 billion in new funding for the border wall to keep our country safe and secure.
- Protects American families from “surprise” medical billing.
- Includes 21st-Century Energy provisions, providing for affordable energy and reduced emissions.
- Preserves pro-life protections and other conservative provisions that Democrats tried to remove, such as prohibiting federal funds from being used to pay for abortions.
- Finally, it blocks Democrat demands to bust earlier bipartisan budget-cap and spending agreements.
The legislation also includes provisions and/or funding to address over 60 of my priorities to help the 17th Congressional District of Texas, including the following key examples:
- Report language and funding to provide for the Army Corps of Engineers to cooperate with the City of Waco to make crucial repairs to Lake Shore Drive. The Army Corps of Engineers, despite owning the land around Lake Shore Drive, did not have clear statutory authority to make repairs to avoid potentially catastrophic damage to this road and surrounding area.
- Continued levels of enhanced funding for the Biomedical Advanced Research Development Authority (BARDA) which is responsible for accelerated pandemic vaccine manufacturing resources and activities at Texas A&M University.
- Increases in funding for basic research to assist our research-oriented universities including those in Central Texas and the Brazos Valley.
- The bipartisan Advanced Nuclear Fuel Availability Act, which establishes a public-private solution to develop, manufacture, and transport High Assay, Low Enriched Uranium (HALEU) – the next generation fuel required to power the advanced nuclear reactors of tomorrow. These important advancements will ensure that zero-emission nuclear power continues to provide a meaningful portion of our country’s ‘always-on, baseload’ electricity used in our homes and businesses.
- Report language instructing the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to assist counties and communities, such as eastern McLennan County, meet revised EPA clean water standards.
- $390 million for new Multi-Mission Vessels for Texas A&M University – Galveston and other state maritime academies to train our next generation of maritime workers and improve safety in the Gulf of Mexico.
Finally, just as important as what’s in the bill is what was not included. It does not include hundreds of billions of dollars to bail out blue states who have mismanaged their budget for decades to pay off their union bosses, checks for illegal immigrants, or a massive federal prisoner release. It eliminated a potential slush fund to states by preventing the Federal Reserve from providing emergency lending by future White House administrations. Finally, it did not include Democrat demands for more abortions on-demand, decreased funding for our servicemen and women, and efforts to defund police.
Despite the many wins, the legislation we voted on yesterday is an example of continuing dysfunction in Washington. Legislative relief for Americans who are struggling because of COVID should have passed months ago. Unfortunately, Nancy Pelosi decided that she would rather withhold the aid to hurt President Trump. Because of this strategy, tens of thousands of Americans have lost their jobs, their livelihoods, their businesses, and their lives. Americans should never forget how Speaker Pelosi and her Democrat colleagues deemed that their families and paychecks were less important than the election of a Democrat President.
Nancy Pelosi’s deliberate obstruction also forced Congress to compress a legislative timeline that would normally take months into a matter of days right before Christmas. Facing a government shutdown, Congress had to pass multiple critical pieces of legislation that were rolled into a huge package and negotiated behind closed doors, with no chance for debate or amendment. This is the Washington Swamp that disgusts every American. It forces Members of Congress to vote on legislation that was finalized only hours earlier. The rushed process also means that there may be critical errors and mistakes that will have to be addressed moving forward.