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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

With passage of budget deal, bills sponsored by McMorris Rodgers become law

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., accompanied by other members of Congress, speaks during a news conference Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018, at Capitol Hill in Washington. Two bills sponsored by McMorris Rodgers were signed into law with the budget deal Friday. (Jose Luis Magana / AP)
By Joey Mendolia For The Spokesman-Review

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On a busy day in Congress on Tuesday, three bills sponsored by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers won the support of the House. Friday morning, President Trump signed two of those bills into law as part of a long-awaited budget deal.

The federal funding bill that passed the House on Tuesday, as well as the budget deal that passed Friday morning, included two of the three bills McMorris Rodgers sponsored: The Steve Gleason Enduring Voices Act, and legislation to extend the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education program.

The Steve Gleason Enduring Voices Act, builds on the original act signed into legislation in 2015 named for Spokane native Steve Gleason who played football for WSU and in the NFL before being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

The second bill extends and restores funding for the Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education Program, which includes residency programs like the Spokane Teaching Health Clinic.

The third bill, the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act, passed the house separately but did not make it into the budget deal, and will now have to go through the Senate.

The bill focuses on reducing the regulations requiring restaurant chains, convenience and grocery stores to provide caloric information to their customers. The bill would allow restaurant chains, “flexibility in how businesses can display that information in a way that makes sense to their customers,” McMorris Rodgers’ spokesman Jared Powell said.

But critics of the bill say it allows restaurants to hide caloric information and unethically determine serving sizes.

Lisa Brown, who is challenging McMorris Rodgers’ re-election bid, expressed her dismay with the Common Sense Nutrition Disclosure Act via Twitter.

“I would have higher priorities in Congress than hiding the number of calories in a slice of pizza,” Brown wrote.

As for the budget deal, Washington senators and representatives expressed differing opinions, but offered bipartisan praise for the across-the-aisle cooperation that ultimately pushed the deal through.

“I want to be very clear: this is a good step, but cannot be the end of our bipartisan work,” said Sen. Patty Murray in a press release Friday. “Republicans control the White House, the Senate, and the House – but they have committed to working with us to finally pass immigration legislation, and I am going to keep fighting to protect DREAMers and their families and to hold Republicans accountable until this gets done.”

McMorris Rodgers also had qualms with the budget deal, but insisted that it supports the citizens of Eastern Washington.

“Even though it’s far from perfect, this agreement includes some great wins for the people of Eastern Washington,” McMorris Rodgers said in a press release. “Including two of my bills: one to bring more doctors to rural and underserved communities and another to provide permanent certainty that those with degenerative diseases will have access to critical speech-generating technology.”

Sen. Maria Cantwell sounded a less salutary note, criticizing the process that sent the budget bill through.

“This massive legislation, which failed to go through hearings or an amendment process, falls short on some of the most urgent investments needed to address Washington state challenges,” Cantwell said in a press release. “My vote for this package was contingent on addressing critical issues like affordable housing, wildland firefighting, and clean energy investments, and making those programs smarter and more efficient.”

For now, despite both bipartisan opposition and bipartisan support for the budget deal, the government will remain funded until late March.