WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) issued the following statement after the House passed H.R. 7608, the first minibus of the Fiscal Year 2021 appropriations bills which includes State-Foreign Operations, Agriculture-Rural Development-FDA, Interior-Environment, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs:

“This appropriations package makes important investments to promote and maintain our global leadership in development and diplomacy, combat climate change, protect public lands, invest in SNAP and food security, and support America’s veterans and their families. The bill also provides much-needed emergency appropriations for global COVID-19 relief efforts.

“This package provides funding for our nation’s most vital food security programs: the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and child nutrition programs. The bill also puts pressure on the US Department of Agriculture to extend child nutrition program waivers through the end of the next school year to ensure low-income children and families can continue to receive meals even if schools continue in a distanced learning format. As our nation grapples with the economic impact of the pandemic, and millions remain unemployed, it is even more imperative that Congress ensures that everyone who is struggling to make ends meet can still receive nutritious meals.  

“The federal government must play a lead role in the effort to address the existential threat of climate change. This bill prioritizes investments to do this both in the U.S. and around the world. Funding for the EPA and Environmental Justice programs are significantly increased from last year. It also fills the void of U.S. leadership on the international stage left by the Trump Administration, investing in international funds and initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, this bill continues funding by the federal government for Puget Sound recovery and restoration.

“This bill also includes increases in the Urban Indian Health Program (UIHP) and Tribal Epidemiology Centers (TECs) to support health care for American Indians and Alaska Natives.  We are fortunate to be home to the Seattle Indian Health Board, which serves thousands of patients in King County. The SIHB also houses the Urban Indian Health Institute, the only TEC in the country serving Urban Indian Health Programs nationwide. The research, data, and disease surveillance conducted for indigenous people throughout the U.S. is as important as ever amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As the world faces a global pandemic, the value of our investments in development and diplomacy has never been clearer. From humanitarian assistance to global health security to child and maternal health, U.S. investments abroad help reduce poverty and famine, promote stability, and protect public health. In addition to increased funding in all of these areas, we restore funding for the World Health Organization (WHO) that was cut by President Trump and provide emergency funding for our international response to COVID-19.

“I am also pleased that this bill funds several international programs in areas that have been targeted by the Trump Administration. We provide funding for international reproductive health and family planning and repeal the Global Gag Rule. The bill also increases funds to promote equality for the LGBTQ+ communities abroad.

“This bill provides increases in the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs budget to better serve and protect our veterans and their families. These funds will expand access to medical services and support medical facilities while boosting oversight across the VA to ensure proper implementation of VA programs. This package makes critical investments in mental health care, suicide prevention outreach, women’s health, and homelessness assistance programs. It also includes much-needed funding for the VA Electronic Health Record System, which will enhance the patient experience across all VA facilities.

“The programs that Congress chooses to fund reflects its values and priorities. I will continue to fight for funding that reinforces our commitment to the health and wellbeing of communities here in the U.S. and around the world.”