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Congresswoman Sewell on why she voted to reopen the government

Terri Sewell

Times staff report

Congresswoman Terri A. Sewell (D-AL) on Monday voted for a continuing resolution (CR) that funds and reopens the government through February 8 and reauthorizes money for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), including Alabama’s ALLKids program, for six years.

The CR passed both the House and the Senate.

Ending the government shutdown and funding CHIP was an important bipartisan step forward, Sewell said.

“I am disappointed that it took as long as it did for Republicans to work with Democrats, but I am hopeful that [the] deal lays the groundwork for both parties to address some of our nation’s biggest challenges, from healthcare to immigration to care for our veterans,” Sewell said.

“For Alabama families who depend on ALL Kids, for the men and women in the Armed Forces, for federal health researchers, for Alabama’s hospitals, and for all of my constituents, this legislation is a step towards future cooperation,” she said.

More still needs to be done, Sewell said.

“Today’s agreement is far from perfect. Congress must pass a budget with long-term funding that gives our federal agencies the certainty they need. A permanent extension of CHIP, rather than six years of funding, would have been more cost efficient and protected healthcare for children into the future.”

Sewell said the bill still does not fund expired Medicare programs, reauthorize Community Health Centers, provide a solution for DREAMers, or address many of our nation’s other top priorities.

“With the additional time that [the] legislation buys, I will hold Republicans to their promise to work with Democrats on solutions to address these issues,” she said.

Jim Carnes, director of Arise Citizens’ Policy Project, also applauded the decision to renew federal funding for the CHIP program.

“The parents of more than 85,000 children with ALL Kids coverage finally received some overdue good news: Their kids aren’t about to lose health insurance . . . families across Alabama deserve to breathe a sigh of relief, but it never should have come to this. CHIP funding deserved a quick, straightforward renewal before it expired nearly four months ago. Delaying the renewal and tying it to other important issues was unnecessary and irresponsible.”

Arise is a nonprofit, nonpartisan coalition of groups and individuals that promote public policies to improve the lives of low-income Alabamians.

“CHIP, known as ALL Kids in Alabama, is a proven success story that played a big part in cutting our state’s uninsured rate for children from 20 percent to just 2.4 percent over the last two decades. Other states have seen similar improvements,” Carnes said.

It is time to permanently fund the program, he said.

“Letting CHIP funding expire and remain in doubt for months was an attack on families,” he said. “Congress should make sure this sad chapter can’t be repeated. It’s time to fund CHIP permanently and guarantee that all children can receive the health care they need to grow and thrive.”