Senator Jay Rockefeller today issued the following statement after the Senate voted to continue government operations for six months. The bill also includes the six-month extension of the welfare reform program, which Rockefeller first voted for in 1996.
"This was an important vote for the American people and for Congress to keep the federal government operations working and make sure that West Virginians are able to get needed services," said Rockefeller. "It's also a responsible bill that supports West Virginians, shows we can work together, and reduces the deficit following the guidelines Congress passed last year to set the country on a path of fiscal discipline.
"It's very easy to criticize Congress, and believe me, there's a lot that I wish we had passed that we didn't. But, I'm very proud of much that we have done and as Chairman of the Commerce Committee, I have reported over 100 pieces of legislation and held 177 hearings. This Congress we have passed bills that will greatly impact West Virginia like the surface transportation bill to improve our roads and highways, and the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization, which protects rural air service in the state. And I worked to pass a bill which will give first responders the first ever nationwide, wireless communications network so they can do their jobs.
"I'm hopeful that after the election, Republicans will stop their obstructionist tactics and compromise on needed bills to support our veterans, prevent domestic violence, address the fiscal cliff, and create jobs, among many others. These shouldn't be political issues and the fact that Majority Leader Reid has had to overcome 382 filibusters in six years shows partisan politics at its worst.
"I believe we can come together to create jobs, decrease the deficit, and avoid the fiscal cliff. These issues are too important for politics to win out."
The bill the Senate voted on will continue to fund government operations through March 27, 2013. The legislation is a clean extension which reflects the cap in spending that Congress passed last year to prevent the federal government from spending above a certain limit and to reduce the deficit. Specific provisions in the bill of importance to West Virginia include:
Funding for the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The agency has recently helped to provide West Virginia and other states with critical support in the aftermath of the severe "derecho" storm earlier this summer.
Continued Federal Support for C-23 Aircraft. Rockefeller worked to make sure that the bill prevents the retirement of the C-23 Sherpa aircraft, as the U.S. Department of Defense had proposed. The West Virginia National Guard training site in Clarksburg had been at risk of losing its four C-23 aircraft and its related training mission which will now continue. The bill also prevents the Air Force from proceeding with its plans to retire recently deployed Global Hawk Block 30 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Aircraft, parts of which are manufactured by Aurora Flight Sciences in Bridgeport.
Abandoned Mine Land Funding. The bill also contains a provision to protect future Abandoned Mine Land funding for West Virginia.
Extension of Welfare Reform. The bill also allows for the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the welfare reform program, to continue. It provides many critical support services -- from child care to other work supports -- to families and single-parent providers during pre- and post-employment transitions. Without this extension, the program expires on September 30. During the six-month extension, West Virginia will receive about $55 million.