BURLINGTON, Vt., Aug. 2 – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the ranking member on the Senate Budget Committee, on Thursday detailed the priorities he fought for in the “minibus” appropriations bill that passed the Senate Wednesday by a 92-6 vote.
“As a member of Democratic Leadership, I am proud of the many initiatives I fought for in this bill on behalf of Vermonters. The bill contains a number of victories for Vermont including: support for Vermont’s farmers and agricultural producers; recognition of the innovative Support and Services at Home (SASH) program that helps seniors stay healthy and live at home; investments in our infrastructure; funding to help clean up Lake Champlain; and protection for rural post offices. The funding in this bill will help protect our environment, create good-paying jobs and will help Vermont’s working families and the elderly.”
Sanders fought for the following Vermont funding priorities in the legislation:
• Maple Industry: Preventing the FDA from requiring an “added sugars” label on pure maple and honey products. This amendment will help ensure nutrition labels make sense to consumers and are fair for producers. The FDA had proposed an ill-conceived “added sugars” label which was confusing for consumers and called into question the integrity of 100 percent maple and honey products, something Vermont producers work hard to guarantee.
• Infrastructure: $8.9 billion in additional funding to repair and improve our nation’s crumbling roads and bridges, transit, drinking water and wastewater systems and other vital infrastructure. Because of an advantageous funding formula secured by Sanders in the last transportation bill, the spending bill will provide a much needed boost in investment in Vermont’s infrastructure. Vermont needs $700 million a year to get its roads to a state of good repair; $510 million during the next 20 years for community water systems and $156 million for wastewater and storm water systems.
• Lake Champlain: $11 million for the Lake Champlain Geographic Program, which helps the state improve water quality, manage wetlands and wildlife and meet the EPA’s goals to reduce phosphorus runoff into the lake.
• Support and Services at Home (SASH) program: The bill acknowledges the success of the SASH program, which has allowed seniors in Vermont and throughout the U.S. to age with dignity and have access to the social and medical supports they need to stay healthy and at home.
• Protecting Rural Post Offices: The bill includes a moratorium on closing or consolidating Vermont’s small post offices.
• Reducing Hunger: $28 million for the Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer for Children Demonstration Program, which reduces hunger and improves nutrition for Vermont’s children. According to a USDA report, the program has reduced the most severe forms of food insecurity by 33 percent.
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