News Releases

Murray supported provisions to expand Pell Grants, increase NIH funding 

Includes $76 million to expand prevention and treatment options in communities affected by opioid abuse 

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the top Democrat on the Senate Labor, Health, and Human Services (LHHS) Appropriations Subcommittee, delivered opening remarks at the full Appropriations Committee markup of the LHHS bill, which she wrote with Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO). In her remarks, Senator Murray applauded the Committee’s bipartisan efforts but said there was more work to be done, and called on her colleagues to build on the investments in this legislation to continue making progress in education, research, and so much more.

“Like other efforts we’ve worked on together, this bill is a bipartisan compromise. This isn’t the bill I would have written on my own, and I know it’s not the bill Senator Blunt would have written on his own,” said Senator Murray. “We were working under very tight budget caps, and we had to make some very tough decisions that impacted programs and investments we care about a lot. But I am proud that we were able to work together to protect and expand critical investments in students, workers, women, families, and the economy.”

On Tuesday after the LHHS subcommittee markup, Senator Murray announced that she had successfully reached an agreement to expand Pell Grants to make them accessible year-round, beginning in 2017-18. She also worked to secure significant investments in medical research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Excerpts from Senator Murray’s remarks:

“We were working under very tight budget caps, and we had to make some very tough decisions that impacted programs and investments we care about a lot. But I am proud that we were able to work together to protect and expand critical investments in students, workers, women, families, and the economy. And I am very glad that this bill doesn’t include any new policy riders that would have poisoned the bill and made it partisan.  This is critical—it’s encouraging—and I hope it continues.”

“With the opioid crisis getting worse and worse in communities in Washington state and across the country, I am glad that this bill includes an additional $76 million to improve prescription drug monitoring and expand prevention and treatment options-services that are in short supply in too many communities where opioid abuse has skyrocketed. This is far from the last step we need to take on this front—more resources are absolutely needed to fully address this crisis—but this bill would be a good step in the right direction.”

“First and foremost, this bill invests in K-12 education in a way that works for our new Every Student Succeeds Act, which was very important to me. We didn’t go as far as I would have hoped—especially on Title I and Title IV—but I am hopeful that this is just a floor that we can build on with continued work. As someone who was only able to go to college myself because of the federal support that is now called Pell Grants, I am very glad that we were able to expand access to the opportunities these grants offer to more students across the country.”

“I am hopeful that Democrats and Republicans can work together to build on our bipartisan budget deal and restore additional investments in defense and non-defense priorities, which would allow us to improve this bill with additional resources for education and other priorities. Many Republicans are talking right now about increasing the defense investments, and I am hopeful that as this process continues we can reach an agreement to restore investments in a fair way that helps middle class families and the economy as well.”

Senator Murray’s remarks as prepared:

“Thank you, Chairman Cochran. I want to thank you and Vice Chairwoman Mikulski for your leadership throughout this process. And I want to thank Senator Blunt, who has been a true partner as we have worked together to write the bill that is before the committee today.

“Like other efforts we’ve worked on together, this bill is a bipartisan compromise. This isn’t the bill I would have written on my own, and I know it’s not the bill Senator Blunt would have written on his own.

“We were working under very tight budget caps, and we had to make some very tough decisions that impacted programs and investments we care about a lot. But I am proud that we were able to work together to protect and expand critical investments in students, workers, women, families, and the economy. And I am very glad that this bill doesn’t include any new policy riders that would have poisoned the bill and made it partisan.  This is critical—it’s encouraging—and I hope it continues.

“I want to discuss just a few important aspects of this bill today. With the opioid crisis getting worse and worse in communities in Washington state and across the country, I am glad that this bill includes an additional $76 million to improve prescription drug monitoring and expand prevention and treatment options-services that are in short supply in too many communities where opioid abuse has skyrocketed.

“This is far from the last step we need to take on this front—more resources are absolutely needed to fully address this crisis—but this bill would be a good step in the right direction. This bill also builds on our work from last year and makes substantial new investments to boost medical research, help create jobs, and give our scientists and researchers more resources to cure the toughest and most devastating diseases patients face.

“I am especially pleased by the increases the bill includes for research on Alzheimer’s disease and to improve our understanding of the brain. This is a critical moment for medical innovation, and we can’t stop working to support federal investments in research that help drive lifesaving, world-changing medical breakthroughs. While I am disappointed that we couldn’t invest more in education overall, I am glad we were able to take some important steps in the right direction.

“First and foremost, this bill invests in K-12 education in a way that works for our new Every Student Succeeds Act, which was very important to me. We didn’t go as far as I would have hoped—especially on Title I and Title IV—but I am hopeful that this is just a floor that we can build on with continued work. As someone who was only able to go to college myself because of the federal support that is now called Pell Grants, I am very glad that we were able to expand access to the opportunities these grants offer to more students across the country.

“Expanding Pell Grants to allow it to be accessed year-round—“summer Pell”—will help more students succeed and graduate. It’s not all we need to do to make college more affordable, of course—but I am very glad we were able to take this important step forward in our bill. Those are just a few highlights in the bill—there are more. And there are other programs and investments that we were able to protect from cuts even if we were unable to boost them to the levels we had hoped. And that brings me to my final point. This bill is an important step forward in the process, but it’s not the last step.

“I am hopeful that Democrats and Republicans can work together to build on our bipartisan budget deal and restore additional investments in defense and non-defense priorities, which would allow us to improve this bill with additional resources for education and other priorities. Many Republicans are talking right now about increasing the defense investments, and I am hopeful that as this process continues we can reach an agreement to restore investments in a fair way that helps middle class families and the economy as well.

“Thank you again Senator Blunt, Chairman Cochran, and Vice-Chairwoman Mikulski. I encourage my colleagues to support this bill and allow this process to continue.”

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