Last week the House Appropriations Committee began to move the 12 annual Fiscal Year 2021 appropriations bills through their respective subcommittees. The Labor-HHS-Education bill passed through the subcommittee on Tuesday, July 7, 2020, with funding receiving a slight increase. Congress is still acting under the final year of the ten-year budget caps. The HHS portion of the bill allocated $96.4 billion, which is $1.5 billion above the fiscal year 2020. The subcommittee did add $9 billion in emergency funding for the CDC in addition to its current CDC level of funding at $8 billion. As emergency funding, the added dollars do not count against the overall caps.

There were few additional increases with child care set at $5.9 billion, a slight $100 million increase. Head Start was increased by $150 million to $10.8 billion, and CAPTA received an overall increase of $12.5 million to $193 million between the three grants. Other parts of the Labor-HHS-Education bill included $73.5 billion in education funds, which is $716 million above this year and nearly $7 billion above the Trump Administration request. The Labor Department received $12.7 billion, which is an increase of $2.5 billion, with the biggest boost to state unemployment systems getting $900 million more.

All of these are areas and programs that have been targeted by advocates, including CWLA, for much bigger increases in the upcoming COVID-19 bill that is expected to be taken up by the Senate this week.

The full Appropriations Committee will take up the bills this week with greater detail for all the spending allocations, added amendments and possible changes during that full committee action. After that, it is unclear when the Senate will act on their bills. Last year the Senate never passed a Labor-HHS bill but negotiated with the House later. If the next COVID-19 relief bill is not large enough to address what is needed, the 2021 appropriations could be the next vehicle to add funds. The Congress could pass a continuing resolution (CR) by October 1, and then deal with 2021 after the election with the outcome of the 2020 elections for both the presidency and the Congress determining the final steps for FY 2021.