Comments Of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) On President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2017 Budget Proposal, Released Today

. . . Leahy Commends Strengthened Efforts To Counter The Opioid/Heroin Epidemic

Stepping Up Efforts To Counter The Opioid/Heroin Epidemic

I welcome the President’s proposal to invest more than $1 billion to combat the nationwide opioid and heroin epidemic.  His proposal reflects the range of challenges and needs that Vermont faces.  Overdose deaths, particularly among young people, are dramatically rising, and communities across the country are struggling to address this corrosive threat.  This epidemic is a national emergency, it is a public health crisis in Vermont, and the President’s plan acknowledges that we cannot arrest our way out of this problem.  We must support prevention, treatment and recovery programs, as well as law enforcement.  I will continue to work on shaping these and other efforts to address this epidemic as the President’s plan goes to the Senate Appropriations Committee for further consideration and action.

A Budget That Reflects Vermont’s And The Nation’s Real Priorities

A budget is about setting priorities, and the President’s priorities are clear:  We must push forward in creating even greater opportunities and economic stability for hardworking families in Vermont and across the country.  That includes investing in education and addressing crippling student debt.  It includes advancing healthy eating and child nutrition, while combatting disease and preventing addiction.  I commend the President for including the first steps in launching the ‘Cancer Moonshot’ that he announced last month.  The President rightly makes it a priority to accelerate investments in our crumbling infrastructure, while supporting innovative technologies to bring our transportation systems into the 21st Century.  He proposes investments in our new energy future and in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, while protecting Americans’ rights to clean air and water.  

A college education is becoming increasingly necessary to succeed, yet the costs of earning a degree are staggering.  I strongly support the President’s call to make higher education affordable and his proposal to allow qualifying students to receive two years of community college for free.   

More is needed to address the federal deficit and I applaud the President for including in his budget proposal a plan to eliminate damaging loopholes in the tax code that only help the wealthiest among us.  The reforms he outlines would close loopholes that allow corporations to skirt their tax responsibilities and effectively shield billions of dollars in international profits each year from United States and foreign tax collectors.  And he embraces my initiative to close the loophole that lets big corporations write off the cost of court-ordered punitive damages for corporate wrongdoing as if it were an everyday business expense.  I have twice introduced legislation to close this outrageous loophole that will responsibly reduce the deficit by $741 million over ten years.  Tax policy has been drifting for many years.  It’s time for Congress to act to address the yawning and widening gap between the top-earning one percent and the middle class.

At a time when climate change, protracted armed conflicts, terrorism and nuclear proliferation are threatening stability around the world, I also welcome the President’s sensible funding proposals for the international affairs budget.  These investments help minimize conflicts, ease suffering and save countless lives.  And in a world where the next epidemic can be only a plane flight away, they also strengthen our engagement with the world and our national security.

The priorities the President outlines in his budget are those most Americans share, from protecting and preserving our greatest natural resources, including Lake Champlain, to ensuring that those on the front lines of law enforcement have the resources they need to protect our safety and our communities, and themselves.  It is a budget for protecting our national security at home and abroad, while also investing here at home in the futures of generations of Americans to come.

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