Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) cheered passage of
legislation to fund federal defense, labor, health, and education agencies that
includes several important victories for Rhode Island. In the bill is
funding to fight opioid addiction, help borrowers working in public service to
repay college loans, and support lifesaving medical research at Rhode Island
hospitals and universities. The bill also includes Whitehouse’s
bipartisan amendment to help Congress speed the release of important health information
“In Rhode Island, we are fighting hard against
the opioid crisis, which this bill will support by funding vital addiction and
recovery programs. We are contributing to major breakthroughs in medical
research, which this bill will spur by funding research centers of excellence
like those established at institutions like Rhode Island Hospital and
URI. And we are fighting to protect workers, like the public servants who
are eligible for this bill’s increase in funding for student loan forgiveness,”
said Whitehouse. “This bill is a win for Rhode Island.”
Included in the bill is funding for a range of
programs important for Rhode Island.
It includes $3.7 billion to fight the opioid
crisis nationwide, an increase of $145 million from the last fiscal year.
A portion of the funding will go to programs created through Whitehouse’s
bipartisan Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, like the Building Communities of Recovery Program, First
Responder Training Grants, and treatment for pregnant and postpartum
women. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
Rhode Island had the ninth highest drug overdose death rate of any state in the
nation in 2016.
It includes another tranche of $350 million in
temporary loan forgiveness for public service student borrowers through a
program based on Whitehouse legislation that became law this year. The
money will help relieve the financial burden for eligible Rhode Islanders
working in public service fields, like teachers, social workers, and military
personnel. Many such workers sought to use the Public Service Loan Forgiveness
(PSLF) program but were nonetheless left with massive loan balances they
thought would be forgiven. Rhode Islanders are encouraged to apply for
the funding and can access eligibility information by visiting Whitehouse’s website.
It includes a $2 billion increase for research
through the National Institutes of Health. Included is $429 million for
the BRAIN Initiative and $361 million for Institutional Development Awards,
which support Centers for Biomedical Research Excellence at a number of Rhode
Island institutions, including the recently announced Rhode Island Hospital
Center on Opioids and Overdose.
It includes a $10 million increase in funding
for children’s psychiatric teaching hospitals, including Bradley Hospital in
East Providence, through the Children’s Hospital Graduate Medical Education
(CHGME) Program. Whitehouse has fought tirelessly to fund high-quality
medical education for residents training at children’s hospitals through the
Whitehouse also succeed in including his
bipartisan amendment with Senator Cassidy requiring the Health and Human
Services Department to update Congress on a long-overdue set of rules to help
limit blocking of important health information.
This bill’s passage follows a string of
legislative successes for Whitehouse during the 115th Congress, including:
$30 million for the National Ocean
and Coastal Security Fund to support work that helps Americans understand and
adapt to forces like sea level rise, severe storms, and other coastal hazards.
Bipartisan legislation to spur
investment in next-generation carbon capture, utilization, and storage
technologies, putting a dollar value on the reducing carbon pollution driving
Whitehouse’s legislation to extend
permanently vital foreclosure protection for servicemembers, veterans, and
Bipartisan legislation to increase
collaboration between private industry, universities, and national laboratories
in developing and bringing to market advanced nuclear technologies.
Bipartisan legislation reauthorizing the
Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA), making important
improvements to the way we treat young people in our criminal justice system.
Bipartisan legislation to address the
marine debris epidemic affecting America’s oceans, shorelines, and inland
waterways, as well as other coasts across the globe.
Bipartisan legislation to help
behavioral health care providers – like psychologists and psychiatric hospitals
– adopt electronic health records.
Bipartisan legislation to encourage
governments to help tech companies comply with global criminal
Bipartisan legislation to help encourage
growth and job creation in the emerging kelp farming industry.