Sen. Tom Carper, D-Delaware, senior member of the Senate Finance Committee, released a statement Dec. 19 after voting against the end-of-the-year appropriations bills.

“First and foremost, I want to thank my colleagues on the Appropriations Committee, particularly Chairman Shelby and Ranking Member Leahy, as well as Leader Schumer their staffs, for all the hard work they have done to put this package together and make sure that our government does not shut down,” said Carper. “That may seem like a low bar, but the task before them is never an easy one, and they should be applauded for their efforts. It’s also important to note that my colleagues — on both sides of the aisle — have secured important measures in this year’s appropriations package that I support, including resources to help secure our elections, funding for gun violence research at the Centers for Disease Control and a provision that raises the age for tobacco purchases from 18 to 21.”

“With that being said, I believe that there are some real missed opportunities and misguided provisions in these spending bills,” said Carper. “I am disappointed that smart clean energy priorities, on which I’ve worked for many years, were ultimately not included. These tax incentives would help to create a nurturing environment for job creation and job preservation, while also protecting our environment. By investing in technologies like those that harness offshore wind energy and convert wasted heat to clean electricity, we not only reduce emissions, but help to grow our economy, reduce energy costs for consumers and create thousands of good-paying American jobs in the process.”

“Even more disheartening are the provisions in this package pertaining to the Affordable Care Act,” said Carper. “It should surprise no one that one of my proudest accomplishments in the U.S. Senate was helping to write and pass the Affordable Care Act. The health care law has expanded quality, affordable health care coverage to more than 20 million Americans, provided critical protections for 133 million Americans living with pre-existing conditions and expanded Medicaid to millions of families, just to name a few things. I was especially proud that we not only paid for the Affordable Care Act, but that we also made this progress all while reducing the federal deficit. In fact, the Affordable Care Act was projected to save $200 billion over the first 10 years and more than $1 trillion in the second decade. Foolishly, we have slowly chipped away at revenue-generating provisions of the Affordable Care Act. And today, as part of this spending deal, we have eliminated the largest offsets that not only helped to pay for the Affordable Care Act, but were designed to keep health care costs down for consumers! By repealing these offsets, we risk increasing costs for patients across the country, while also adding $373 billion to our national debt over the next decade, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation. I am appalled that we would, with so little regard, strike one of the major provisions of the health care law, especially at a time when our budget deficit reached $984 billion this past year and is set to exceed $1 trillion in 2020.”

“As a recovering state treasurer, I’ve learned that, when an economy is strong, you should use that time to pay down debts,” said Carper. “That way, when an inevitable recession occurs, you have the flexibility to spend and stimulate the economy. Today, we are 10 years into the longest running economic expansion in our country’s history. Yet, in less than three years, President Trump has added nearly $3 trillion to our national debt. I have struggled with today’s vote, but I truly believe that this path we are on is unsustainable and I cannot in good conscious support this package. Instead of whistling past the graveyard, we need a serious long-term plan to finally get our fiscal house in order before it’s too late.”