Week ending September 8, 2017
H.R.3358 – Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2018
From the bill report:
For fiscal year 2018, the Committee recommends a total of $157,938,000,000 in current year discretionary funding, including offsets and adjustments. The fiscal year 2018 recommendation is a decrease of $5,047,000,000 below the fiscal year 2017 enacted level.
Within the funds provided, the Committee has focused increases on priority areas and reduced funding for programs that are no longer authorized, are of limited scope or effectiveness, or do not have a clear Federal role.
First and foremost among these priority areas, the Committee continues to build on the investment made last year in biomedical research by increasing funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) by $1,100,000,000. This increase builds on the prior $2,000,000,000 increase included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017 and continues funding from the 21st Century Cures Act. Within the total increase, the Committee provides an increase of $80,000,000 to the Precision Medicine Initiative, which holds the promise of designing personalized, targeted cures and treatment. The Committee also includes an increase of $400,000,000 to help find a cure for Alzheimer’s disease and an increase of $76,000,000 for the BRAIN initiative to help better understand how the brain functions and learns.
The Committee has also placed a high priority on combatting opioid addiction by including an additional $500,000,000 for grants to States, as outlined in the 21st Century Cures Act. The Committee also continues support for programs addressing opioid addiction as authorized in the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act.
To protect public health and the Nation in the event of a bioterrorism or other pandemic crisis, the Committee recommendation also includes increases to the Bioshield and the Biomedical Research and Advanced Development Authority (BARDA) programs as well as a $178,000,000 increase for detecting and preventing a pandemic flu outbreak. The recommendation also increases the Strategic National Stockpile by $25,000,000 and includes language allowing the Secretary of Health and Human Services greater flexibility to respond to an imminent public health threat within the public health and social services emergency fund.
In the area of education, the Committee has included an increase of $200,000,000 to assist local school districts in covering the cost of ensuring all children with disabilities have access to a free, appropriate, and public education. The Committee provides a total of $500,000,000 for the new Student Support Services program created in the Every Student Succeeds Act. These funds can be used flexibly by school districts across the country to meet local challenges, whether those be in the area of counseling, special curriculum services, computer science or physical education needs as local demands may dictate. The recommendation also includes an increase of $28,000,000 for charter schools.
The Committee includes robust increases for the TRIO, $60,000,000, and GEAR UP, $10,246,000, programs to ensure that students from disadvantaged backgrounds have access to a college program. The bill also provides sufficient funding to maintain the maximum Pell grant award at $5,920 in the 2018-2019 academic year.
The Head Start program is increased by $21,905,000 and the Child Care and Development Block Grant is increased by $4,000,000 to continue investments in early childhood education. The Committee has also included $250,000,000 within the Department of Health and Human Services for the Preschool Development Grants program.
These increases are offset by eliminating funding for programs that do not have a clear or effective Federal role, or that have large unobligated balances that are not needed in this fiscal year.
The Committee believes that public service is a public trust that requires Federal employees to place ethical principles above private gain. Federal employees are reminded that they shall not advance a personal agenda or give preferential treatment to any outside organization or individual within the government programs that they administer. Information that is received by the employee, including information from other employees, offices, or Congress should be handled in a professional and confidential manner in accordance with Code of Federal Regulations regarding the basic obligation of public service (5 CFR 2635.101).
The Committee directs each of the agencies funded by this Act to continue to report any funds derived by the agency from non-Federal sources, including user charges and fines, that are authorized by law, to be retained and used by the agency or credited as an offset in annual budget submissions.
Paper Reduction Efforts.–The Committee urges each agency funded by this Act to work with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to reduce printing and reproduction costs and directs each agency to inform the Committee on what steps have been taken to achieve this goal, including identifying how much money each agency expects to save by implementing these measures.
From the Congressional Research Service:
Provides FY2018 appropriations to the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education; and related agencies.
Provides appropriations to the Department of Labor for:
the Employment and Training Administration,
the Employee Benefits Security Administration,
the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation,
the Wage and Hour Division,
the Office of Labor-Management Standards,
the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs,
the Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs,
the Occupational Safety and Health Administration,
the Mine Safety and Health Administration,
the Bureau of Labor Statistics,
the Office of Disability Employment Policy, and
Department of Health and Human Services Appropriations Act, 2018
Provides appropriations to the Department of Health and Human Services for:
the Health Resources and Services Administration,
the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
the National Institutes of Health,
the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration,
the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality,
the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services,
the Administration for Children and Families,
the Administration for Community Living, and
the Office of the Secretary.
Department of Education Appropriations Act, 2018
Provides appropriations to the Department of Education for:
Education for the Disadvantaged;
School Improvement Programs;
Innovation and Improvement;
Safe Schools and Citizenship Education;
English Language Acquisition;
Special Institutions for Persons with Disabilities;
Career, Technical, and Adult Education;
Student Financial Assistance;
Student Aid Administration;
the College Housing and Academic Facilities Loan Program;
the Historically Black College and University Capital Financing Program Account;
the Institute of Education Sciences; and
Provides appropriations to Related Agencies, including:
the Committee for Purchase From People Who Are Blind or Severely Disabled,
the Corporation for National and Community Service,
the Corporation for Public Broadcasting,
the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service,
the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission,
the Institute of Museum and Library Services,
the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission,
the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission,
the National Council on Disability,
the National Labor Relations Board,
the National Mediation Board,
the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission,
the Railroad Retirement Board, and
the Social Security Administration.
Conscience Protection Act of 2017
Amends the Public Health Service Act to codify the prohibition against the federal government and state and local governments that receive federal financial assistance for health-related activities penalizing or discriminating against a health care provider based on the provider’s refusal to be involved in, or provide coverage for, abortion.
(Full text of H.R. 3358 at congress.gov)
Sponsor: Rep. Cole, Tom [R-OK-4] (Introduced 07/24/2017)
VOTES and FLOOR ACTION
Motion to recommit:
Text of the motion:
COST AND IMPACT
Cost to the taxpayers: Data not available
Pay-as-you-go requirements: Data not available
Regulatory and Other Impact: Data not available
Dynamic Scoring: Data not available
Tax Complexity: Not applicable to this bill.
Earmark Certification: Data not available
Duplication of programs: Data not available
Direct Rule-Making: Data not available
Advisory Committee Statement: Data not available
Budget Authority: Data not available
Constitutional Authority: Assumed.
MINORITY VIEWS OF REP. NITA LOWEY AND REP. ROSA DeLAURO
We would like to acknowledge the efforts of Chairman Frelinghuysen and Chairman Cole to hold a full committee markup of the Labor-HHS-Education bill for the third consecutive year. This bill, which includes some of the nation’s most important domestic programs, needs to be debated by the committee in public every year.
We are disappointed, however, that Republicans introduced and approved a bill that would cut labor, health, and education programs by $5 billion compared to the fiscal year 2017 enacted level. We are concerned that such a severe cut would harm students, seniors, women, families, and workers. To make matters worse, the Labor-HHS-Education bill’s allocation is already $30 billion below the fiscal year 2010 level, after adjusting for inflation.
The biggest economic challenge of our time is that too many people are in jobs that do not pay them a living wage. Too often, workers lack the skills and experience to access better jobs and earn family-sustaining wages.
It used to be that workers with high school degrees were able to secure good paying jobs, in manufacturing and elsewhere, that allowed them and their families to prosper. But those jobs, and the high wages that used to go with them, have been in decline over the past 40years.
We need to enact policies that ensure everyone can benefit from a growing economy, and that everyone has the skills and training to get a good job with high wages. We need a country that works for the middle class and the vulnerable, not just the wealthy and those with the most lobbyists.
That’s why the Labor-HHS-Education bill is so important. The programs in this bill provide opportunities for hardworking Americans to improve their economic security and for our economy to grow. This committee must commit to investing in education and job training to fulfill this country’s potential.
We must put at the center of our effort the 70 percent of Americans for whom a four-year college degree is not their preferred pathway. We must recognize and support their aspirations for their families and communities.
If people are to achieve better lives for their families, we must build a pipeline of skilled workers. That means we need to have a public workforce development system that adapts to businesses’ changing needs. In many cases, work-based learning and apprenticeship programs are the best options to equip workers with the skills to get a good job with high wages.
The federal government has a rich history of helping Americans learn and grow through workforce development and connecting businesses with a skilled workforce, and we need to reinvest in that system. We will describe below how this Republican Labor-HHS-Education bill is a repudiation of the American tradition of the federal government improving schools, making college more affordable, training workers for better paying jobs, and providing health services for women.
Of course, there are a few bright spots in this bill. We strongly support increases for NIH research, emergency preparedness, Special Education, and TRIO and GEAR UP. But even those increases show the fundamental insufficiency of the subcommittee’s allocation: the NIH increase is about half the size of the increase for each of the past two years, and Special Education funding continues to fall short. When adjusting for inflation, the increase for Special Education State Grants is an effective cut, taking us further away from living up to our commitment to fully fund IDEA.
Overall, the modest increases in this bill are far outweighed by harmful cuts to programs that ought to be increased.
EDUCATION–A KEY TO THE MIDDLE CLASS
The Department of Education is cut by $2.2 billion below the fiscal year 2017 enacted level, before accounting for the rescission of $3.3 billion from the Pell Grant program.
We are deeply disappointed that the bill fails to make additional investments in Title I, which reaches 25 million students in more than 80 percent of our school districts, and imposes harmful cuts to the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which would deny 192,000 kids enrichment opportunities in before- and after-school and summer school programs. To restore these harmful cuts, we offered an amendment to return the program’s funding to the fiscal year 2017 level. Unfortunately, it was defeated.
Despite the mountain of evidence that early childhood interventions work to reduce inequality and narrow achievement gaps, the bill provides level funding for Preschool Development Grants and nominal increases for Head Start and Child Care, meaning we will continue to fall behind in providing children and families with high-quality early education opportunities and care.
We proposed amendments to boost funding for these programs as well as the Child Care Access Means Parents in School program to help meet the needs of students with kids. Unfortunately, the amendments were defeated.
This bill is fundamentally anti-teacher. It eliminates the Supporting Effective Instruction grants, which reduce class sizes and give teachers evidence-based professional development. Approximately 8,000 teachers across the country would lose their jobs. States represented by Members of this committee would lose a total of $1.7 billion if the majority’s proposal was enacted.
We proposed an amendment to restore funding for this program and a number of other teacher programs proposed to be cut or eliminated in the bill because we know that strong leaders are the most important school-based factor in our kids’ academic success. While we attracted one member from across the aisle to join us, the amendment was ultimately defeated.
The bill eliminates nearly a dozen education programs, including the largest reading program for low-income children and youth, Special Olympics, and funding to expand access to the arts in our most under-resourced communities. It imposes harmful cuts to proven education programs like Promise Neighborhoods. Cutting funding for the Special Olympics will not make a difference in reducing the Federal debt, but it will rob a segment of our population a chance at an enriching experience.
We proposed amendments to reverse damaging cuts to these and other programs, in order to provide our children with tools for success. Unfortunately, while we had one member of the majority join us, all other Republicans opposed this amendment
to restore funds.
The bill threatens the very future of the Pell Grant program by slashing $3.3 billion and doing nothing to make college more affordable. It sets Pell on a dangerous path at a time when 44 million student borrowers have more than $1.3 trillion in student debt.
We tried to improve the bill by offering an amendment to increase the maximum Pell Grant award by $135 to keep up with inflation. Our Republican colleagues rejected our effort to help make college more affordable by voting against the amendment.
In addition, we offered an amendment to require the Secretary of Education to implement the Borrower Defense to Repayment regulation to safeguard students and taxpayer dollars from unscrupulous institutions that commit fraud and mislead students. The majority opposed, and the amendment failed. We also offered an amendment affirming that all students deserve to learn in an environment free from sexual violence. With the support of only one member from across the aisle, the amendment was defeated.
Setting aside the much-needed increase for research at the National Institutes of Health, the rest of the Department of Health and Human Services would be cut by more than $2 billion under this bill.
The bill cuts access to Mental Health and Substance Abuse Prevention services by more than $300 million below the fiscal year 2017 level, which is particularly distressing due to the ongoing opioid crisis. We speak often about the opioid crisis, but when the opportunity arises to take strong action, we fail to fund these priorities in a meaningful way.
Democrats proposed amendments to restore funding for mental health and substance abuse prevention, in addition to nurse training, tobacco prevention, immunizations, research in health care settings, and a slate of programs that disproportionately serve minority communities. We also proposed an amendment to provide $5 billion in emergency funding to the Public Health Emergency Fund.
Unfortunately, all of our efforts to improve health care services, train a health workforce, and fund a rapid emergency response were rejected.
The bill cuts and eliminates programs designed to protect one of our most vulnerable populations: seniors. The State Health Insurance Assistance Program provides seniors with help in navigating the complex Medicare program; the Senior Community Service Employment Program provides unemployed low-income older adults with paid work experiences; and Elder Rights Support Activities helps protect our elderly through the prevention and detection of abuse.
We proposed an amendment to restore the harmful cuts proposed to these critical programs, but it was rejected.
WOMEN’S HEALTH SERVICES
This bill’s approach to women’s health pushes a dangerous and harmful ideological agenda. It eliminates funding for Title X Family Planning and the Teen Pregnancy Prevention program–a combined cut of about $400 million to reproductive health services for women–and includes new ideological riders that would block funding for Planned Parenthood and effectively block life-saving research using cells from fetal tissue.
We proposed amendments to restore funding for Title X Family Planning and the Teen Pregnancy Prevention program. In addition, we offered amendments to strike several ideological riders that would be harmful to women’s health, including the riders that would block funding for Planned Parenthood and fetal tissue research. To our disappointment, the majority rejected restoring funds for reproductive health and retained each of the ideological riders that do not belong in this bill.
The largest proportional department-level cut in the bill is the Department of Labor by $1.2 billion, or 10.1 percent, below the fiscal year 2017 level, before accounting for the rescission of $200 million from the Dislocated Worker National Reserve. That is baffling given the President’s campaign promises to American workers.
This bill hurts workers by eliminating the Employment Service, which helped nearly six million unemployed workers, including veterans, find jobs in 2015. This funding goes to our One-Stops to help people looking for jobs get relevant skills. Cutting this funding is a betrayal of job seekers in our economy.
The bill also eliminates grants expanding the highly-effective Registered Apprenticeship model that connects job seekers with good paying jobs employers are desperate to fill.
The bill includes cuts to programs that make our country more competitive, like Job Corps, slashes job training for dislocated workers, and eliminates a tool that helps us evaluate if workforce and education programs are effective. Why would we eliminate programs that have for so long been about economic opportunity and a ladder to the middle class?
We proposed amendments to restore funding for job training programs and apprenticeships, as well as Job Corps and the Employment Service. We also fought to restore funding to crucial enforcement agencies and the Bureau of International Labor Affairs. Once again, the majority opposed our efforts and the amendments failed.
PARTISAN POLICY RIDERS
In addition to riders that would limit a woman’s access to health care, this bill also attempts to block all funding for the Affordable Care Act. It continues to prohibit funding for gun violence prevention, which has had a chilling effect on gun violence research. And it prohibits the Department of Labor from ensuring that financial advisers act in the best interests of their clients.
We proposed amendments to eliminate each of these ideological riders; unfortunately, the majority rejected each amendment.
This bill stands in stark contrast to the bipartisan Labor-HHS-Education bill included in the fiscal year 2017 Omnibus.
The funding in this bill fails to meet our country’s needs and breaks our promises to students, seniors, women, families and our workforce. It does not reflect our values of putting the middle class and the vulnerable first; instead, it benefits those with the most money and the most lobbyists. We hope our colleagues on the other side of the aisle will work with Democrats during the conference process to fix the many inadequacies in this bill. At that point, we look forward to working with Chairman Frelinghuysen and Chairman Cole to move forward on a bill we can all support.
Nita M. Lowey.
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