Senator Roy Blunt is the Junior United States Senator from Missouri. This is his December 23, 2016 email newsletter. For more information on our Opinion Section and why we post these communications from you elected officials please click here.
With the holidays fast approaching, it’s an important time to pause and reflect on all of the blessings we’ve enjoyed over the past year. One of the things I’m most grateful for is the opportunity to continue representing Missourians and making your priorities the Senate’s priorities. That has been, and will continue to be, my focus as your senator. While there is more work ahead, I’m proud of the progress we’ve made on issues important to Missouri families, and I’d like to share a few of them with you:
Helping People Live Longer, Healthier Lives: Last week, the president signed the 21st Century Cures Act. This bipartisan bill will help every family that has faced, or will face, an incurable disease by accelerating progress toward life-saving cures. The bill continues efforts I’ve been proud to lead, as Chairman of the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee, to increase resources for biomedical research at the National Institutes of Health. Last year, we increased NIH funding by $2 billion – the largest increase in more than a decade. We secured another $2 billion increase in the bipartisan, committee-passed bill this year, while eliminating 36 ineffective or duplicative programs totaling more than $1.25 billion over the past two years. I will continue working to prioritize more resources for programs that will benefit the most families, like research to find cures for cancer and Alzheimer’s disease, and advancements in precision medicine. Read more in my St. James Leader-Journal op-ed here.
Addressing the Opioid Epidemic: In July, the Senate passed and the president signed a bill I cosponsored called the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act. The bipartisan measure expands access to evidence-based treatment and recovery services, and focuses on proven strategies that will strengthen prevention programs and support effective law enforcement efforts. As Labor/HHS chairman, I was also able to secure a 93 percent funding increase in this year’s committee-passed bill for treatment and prevention programs to combat the opioid epidemic. Total funding for opioid-specific programs in the Labor/HHS bill has been increased by 542 percent over the past two years. Read more in my Smithville Herald op-ed.
Making College More Affordable: Pell Grants are an important tool for making college more affordable and accessible for Missouri students. The Labor/HHS appropriations bill restored year-round Pell Grants, allowing full and part-time students to receive an additional grant during the year. This would provide an estimated one million students, on average, an extra $1,650 to help pay for college and keep them on track for graduation. I will continue working to get year-round Pell signed into law.
Improving Missouri’s Infrastructure: Strengthening our infrastructure is imperative for boosting economic growth, keeping families safe, and improving the quality of life in our communities. I was glad to advocate for several critical infrastructure projects across the state, including: much-needed improvements for Kansas City Levees, the Turkey Creek Basin, the Swope Park Industrial Area, and the Blue River Basin; enhancements to the New Bourbon Port and repairs to the Ste. Genevieve Levee District II levee; and Delta Regional Authority-backed projects that will enhance safety, improve health care, and expand educational opportunities in Southeast Missouri.
From my family to yours, have a wonderful holiday and a very happy new year!