News Releases

Murray Helps Pass Budget that Invests in America

May 17 2007

Budget Supports Higher Investments in Education, Veterans, Healthcare, Port Security, and Children's Healthcare

(Washington, D.C.) - Today, U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash) helped pass a budget resolution for Fiscal Year 2008 that reverses years of cuts and invests in America's priorities. The budget, which passed the Senate today 52-40, invests in key areas like education, children's healthcare, and veterans healthcare. It also funds Murray's SAFE Ports Act.



"We have finally turned the corner after years of budgets that neglected our needs at home and burdened our children with debt," Murray said. "This budget makes the right investments for our schools, our people and our communities, and it does so in a responsible way."



Murray helped draft the budget as a senior member of the Senate Budget Committee. She was one of three Senators who served on the joint House-Senate conference committee that resolved differences between the House and Senate versions of the budget resolution.



The budget conference agreement also passed the House earlier today. The budget resolution provides the funding framework for the Senate Appropriations Committee, which now begins work drafting appropriations bills for Fiscal Year 2008.



As the Senate debated the budget today, Senator Murray spoke on the Senate floor in support of the budget resolution.



Senator Murray's remarks on the Senate Floor today follow:



Mr. President, we're considering today a budget that reflects the priorities of families across the country, returns fiscal responsibility to Washington, D.C., and invests in critical needs for all Americans. I'm proud to support it.



First and foremost, I want to thank our chairman, Senator Kent Conrad, for his tireless work on this most difficult task. I've served with him through this process time and time again, and I'm always amazed and impressed by his thoughtfulness, his attention to detail, and of course, his charts. He always works- along with his partner in the House Congressman Spratt -- to establish priorities all Americans can be proud of. Writing a budget of this size and scope is not easy, but Senator Conrad has again this year proven that he is up to the task.



Senator Conrad and all Democrats want a budget that reflects the priorities of American families. We do that in this budget by investing here at home -- in our schools, our infrastructure, and our communities. And it still provides every dollar the President seeks for defense spending over the next five years.



At the same time, Americans want the return of fiscal responsibility in Washington, D.C. Every family knows the importance of balancing their checkbooks and paying their bills. They expect the federal government to be responsible with money, too. Unfortunately, for years, Republicans failed to manage tax-payer dollars. Year after year they produced some of the largest debts this country has ever seen.



Our budget says no more. Our plan includes strong pay-as-you-go rules. This means we're being responsible today - and not burdening our grandchildren with future debt. In fact, we've produced a budget that will produce a $41 billion surplus by 2012.



American families also need relief from taxes. Our budget supports middle-class tax relief, including extending marriage penalty relief and the child tax credit. The Conference Agreement also supports reform of the estate tax to protect small businesses and family farms. We also provide relief from the Alternative Minimum Tax for one year.



Veterans

I'm especially proud of the attention this budget pays to our veterans when they return home. From veterans struggling to get mental healthcare or facing month and year long waits for benefit checks, to a lack of focus on TBI care, it is clear the President has not adequately funded veterans' programs.



Our budget reverses this and provides $43.1 billion for fixing these problems.



Our budget also rejects the President's proposal to impose new fees and higher drug co-payments on certain veterans. This would have forced more than 100,000 veterans to leave the VA health care system. This is not in-line with the promise made to our heroes. Our budget restores this promise and pays honor to those who were willing to pay the ultimate sacrifice for our country.



Port Security

Mr. President, our budget also invests in critical ports security needs. Last year we passed the SAFE Ports Act. Unfortunately, the President did not adequately fund this program. In our budget, we increased funding for the SAFE Ports Act. This funding means more radiation detectors, more partners in safe trade, and more customs officials to facilitate trade.



Education

Our budget also reverses years of painful cuts to education. It provides the largest increase in funding for elementary and secondary education programs in five years. Our budget also increases Department of Education funding by $9.5 billion above the President's request, and restores all of Presidents Bush's education cuts. As a parent and former teacher I know the importance of investing in our children's' education. I am proud our budget does just that.



Children's Healthcare (SCHIP)

Our budget also provides up to $50 billion for SCHIP over the next five years. These funds will expand health coverage to nearly six million children, and is an important step toward providing every American child with health care.



Mr. President, it is important to note that in three of the last five years, the Republican Congress failed to pass a budget. They even had a larger majority in the Senate than we have now. Unfortunately, we all saw the results of their failures - historic debts that are passed on to the tab of our children and grandchildren.



Last November, Americans demanded a change, and this budget reflects that call. It returns fiscal responsibility to Washington, D.C. and ensures our nation's priorities are addressed. I'm proud to support it.