– On Wednesday, the Senate Agriculture Committee passed the 2018 Farm Bill with strong bipartisan support. It includes a number of provisions from Indiana’s senior senator, Joe Donnelly, who serves on the committee. Donnelly helped craft the bipartisan bill and spoke during the committee markup about Hoosier priorities for the bill. Donnelly’s provisions included in the bill would help improve risk management tools, expand market opportunities, promote voluntary conservation activities, combat the opioid epidemic, support rural communities with investments in high-speed internet and waste- and drinking-water infrastructure, as well as fight against food insecurity. The measure now goes to the full Senate for a vote.

Donnelly said: “As the hired help for Indiana, I took what I heard from Hoosiers and worked with my colleagues to develop this bipartisan bill to ensure it would advance priorities important to our state and rural communities. I’m pleased this bill would improve the tools farmers use to manage uncontrollable risks; expand market opportunities; invest in broadband and provide resources to fight the opioid epidemic; and fight food insecurity. I hope the full Senate considers the farm bill quickly.”

– Legislation to increase oversight of taxpayer dollars spent by federal agencies has advanced out of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee and will be eligible for consideration by the full Senate. The Good Accounting Obligation in Government (GAO-IG) Act, a bipartisan effort from Indiana’s Todd Young and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), requires federal agencies to provide annual reports to Congress on the status of implementing recommendations from the Office of Inspector General (IG) and the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

“By making our federal government more accountable, this legislation will help ensure federal agencies are better serving taxpayers and saving money,” Young said. “I’m extremely pleased that our bill has passed out of committee and look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure that the GAO-IG Act becomes law.”

– A significant bill introduced to help combat the opioid crisis passed the U.S. House on Tuesday. The Comprehensive Opioid Recovery Centers Act would establish a grant program for treatment facilities to offer all FDA approved treatments for opioid user disorder. The bipartisan effort was introduced by four House members, including Congressman Larry Bucshon (IN-08). Dr. Bucshon stated: “This legislation will increase access to FDA approved medication assisted treatment in conjunction with rehabilitation, recovery housing and community-based services.”

– This week, the House of Representatives voted to pass H.R. 5329, the Poison Center Network Enhancement Act of 2018, introduced earlier this year by Congresswoman Susan Brooks (IN-05). In her remarks on the House floor, Brooks said: “Poison control centers are fielding almost 192 cases a day of opioid abuse and misuse. In one month alone, there were 9,039 opioid exposures reported to poison control centers nationwide. They are essential to combating the opioid crisis because these are the centers used to compile data that can be used to discover hotspots for opioid abuse and misuse and save lives.”

– Congressman Pete Visclosky’s (IN-01) Buy America Amendment to the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 Interior Appropriations Act was approved by the House Appropriations Committee last week. Similar to actions taken in previous fiscal years, this amendment offered with Congressman Robert Aderholt (R-AL), strikes provisions that would have weakened Buy America requirements for projects receiving funding through the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Drinking Water State Revolving Fund. Specifically, the amendment removed provisions that would have potentially permitted certain imported slab and finished iron and steel products.

Congressman Visclosky stated, “The steel industry is the economic foundation of the Northwest Indiana economy, and it is imperative that American taxpayer dollars are required to be spent in a way that directly supports American workers and the American steel and manufacturing industries.  I appreciate the action taken by the House Appropriations Committee to recognize the dignity of American workers, and I will continue to do my best to support the invaluable contributions of the American steel industry to our national economy and our national security.”

The FY 2019 Interior Appropriations Act, including the Buy America Amendment, was approved by the House Appropriations Committee. The measure is currently awaiting consideration by the full House.

Resource: Greg Ellis at (317) 264-6881 or email: [email protected]