Merkley, Wyden Announce Investments in Health Care, Education in Spending Bill

 WASHINGTON, D.C. — Oregon’s U.S. Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden today announced key provisions in education and health care in the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education bill that will help Oregon communities. The bill passed the full Senate on Tuesday and is expected to pass the U.S. House of Representatives next week.

“This bill provides important support for Oregonians’ priorities, including women’s health, career training, and Community Development Block Grants for rural communities,” said Merkley, who serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee. “My Senate colleagues joined me in soundly rejecting the president’s proposed cuts. Instead, we preserved and grew investments in nurses and teachers; in providing opportunity to our most vulnerable students; and in grants that support rural communities’ efforts to alleviate poverty.”

“Oregon knows the importance of putting resources into America’s future, and that forward-looking approach is exactly what this legislation achieves for nurses, students, teachers and young people eager for career training,” Wyden said. “I’m glad the bill says no to Donald Trump’s desired disinvestment in these key priorities and also builds on the strengths of rural communities in Oregon and nationwide.”

Merkley is the only Oregon member of Congress from either chamber since Senator Mark Hatfield to serve on the Appropriations Committee, considered to be one of the most powerful on Capitol Hill. He joined the committee in 2013 so that Oregon would have a strong voice in decisions about the investments our nation should be making.

Key elements of the legislation that will impact Oregon include:

Health Care

Nursing: The bill includes $249.5 million to support nurses in Oregon and across the country. Merkley led 32 senators, including Wyden, in a letter to the committee to push for an increase in federal funding for nursing workforce development. Oregon benefitted from nearly $2 million in program funding in prior years.

Women’s Health: The bill maintains over $20 million for the WISEWOMAN program to help low-income women reduce their risk of heart disease and stroke. Heart disease is currently the leading cause of death for women in the United States. Oregon is one of 20 states funded by the program, which was eliminated in President Trump’s proposed budget.

Medical Research: The bill includes a $2 billion increase in funding for the NIH, totaling more than $39 billion in the fight against cancer, Alzheimer’s, and other devastating diseases.


Migrant Students: The bill includes $44.6 million dollars for education programs for migrant students. Through this program, higher education and non-profit organizations can receive funding to give migrant and seasonal farmworkers and their children the opportunity to attend higher education or earn their GED. Oregon State University, Chemeketa Community College, Portland Community College, and Treasure Valley Community College receive funds through this program.

Special Education Research: The bill preserves $56 million for research and innovation in special education. The University of Oregon — a leading university on special education research — and other institutions use these funds to ensure public education benefits students with disabilities.

Teachers: The bill restores billions in funding for teacher training and student academic achievement that the Trump budget eliminated. The bill also includes $1 billion for TRIO, an educational program that supports students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Career Training: The bill includes $1.2 billion, a $70 million increase, for Career and Technical Education, which supports our workforce and economy by training young people to fill in-demand, twenty-first century jobs.

Community Service

Community Services Block Grants: The bill includes $725 million, a $10 million increase, for the program which provides critical support for rural Oregon communities. Merkley led 30 senators, including Wyden, in a letter to the committee pushing to preserve and increase funding for the program. Community Services Block Grants were targeted for elimination by the Trump Administration.

Community Service: The bill rejects President Trump’s elimination of national community service programs that place talented Americans in vulnerable communities. Instead, the bill funds AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers at $92 million; Senior Corps programs at $208 million; and State AmeriCorps grants at $425 million.

The U.S. House of Representatives will vote on an identical bill, at which point the final bill will be sent to the president to be signed into law.