On Wednesday and Thursday of last week the Senate Appropriations Committee acted on their version of an FY 2018 Labor-HHS-Education bill.  Now that the Congress has approved (on Friday) a CR that extends all FY 2018 funding until December 8, this bill will serve as a negotiating point with the House and Administration.

The bill, like the overall Senate appropriations caps is higher than what the House is allowing.  Overall the Senate bill would provide a slight increase of $3 billion over FY 2017 funding and provides $164 billion for all three departments.  HHS receives $75 billion of that total, less than a $2 billion increase but still $2 billion more than the House version.  The Senate bill was a bipartisan measure approved by a vote of 29 to 2.

The big winner in the HHS budget is the National Institutes of Health (NIH) which received an additional increase to $36 billion, an increase of $1.8 billion and a far cry from the Administration’s first budget which had requested a $6 billion cut.

The bill also rejects another Administration target, the Teen Pregnancy Prevention (TPP) program which receives $108 million.  The Administration had not only sough elimination but they had instructed grantees in July that the five-year grants would end after three years.  As a result, the Senate bill instructs the Administration to spend the funding as required.  The July notice was arbitrary and assumed what Congress might do with future funding.

Much of the rest of the HHS funding was level including funding for child care, Head Start and 21st Century Learning Centers.  There was an insertion of $15 million for community-based prevention funding targeted toward opioid abuse. The funding for an addition $500 million in opioid abuse funding had already been included because of action by the last Congress in December 2016.  This is the second half of that funding.

The small child welfare programs are also flat: CAPTA state grants at $25 million, CB-CAP at $39 million, Adoption Opportunities at $39 million, Adoption Incentives at $37.9 million, Child Welfare Services at $269 million, and the Promoting Safe and Stable Families receives the same $59 million in discretionary funds with the mandatory funding extended by the CR until December 8, 2017.  The Senate like the House assumes that the Court Improvement Program (CIP) will only be at $10 million instead of the current $30 million unless the Congress reauthorizes Promoting Safe and Stable Families.

The Senate report also directs HHS to issue a report to Congress on multigenerational foster care data. “The Committee is interested in data that may be used to better target programs to ensure foster care involvement does not continue from generation to generation. The report shall include what data is currently available on whether biological parents of children placed in foster care were themselves in foster care at any time, at what age, for how long, and if they emancipated from the foster care system. The report should also recommend the best method for collecting data on multigenerational foster care.

The challenge may be to determine what longitudinal data HHS can gather.  HHS is still working on a report on children that run from care as a result of a Congressional mandate found in the Preventing Sex Trafficking and Improving Opportunities Act of 2014.  That report was due a year ago and is expected at the end of this year.

The House Appropriations Committee adopted a Labor-HHS bill before they left in August. For more specifics, the CWLA Budget Chart can be viewed on the LEGISLATIVE INDEX.   e is expected to address a Labor-HHS bill this week and they may attempt to do it on a bipartisan basis.  That always remains a challenge.

The August House-passed “security measure” included funds for the Defense Department, Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and the Legislative Branch budget. The House is assuming a $5 billion cut to non-defense discretionary spending below what was established under the Budget Control Act (BCA).  Non-defense spending is at $511 billion while the Defense Department is expected to get $621 billion.

The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved funding ceilings that will allow for $518 billion for non-defense spending and that is on par with the 2017 appropriations and slightly above the BCA.