Preliminary Details of House Labor-HHS Bill Released

On July 7, the House Labor, Health and Human Services and Education (Labor-HHS) Appropriations Subcommittee passed its fiscal year (FY) 2017 appropriations bill for agencies and programs under its jurisdiction, which include the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), Department of Education, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), among others. While text of the draft appropriations bill was released to coincide with the Subcommittee markup, the Committee Report is not expected to be released until the bill is marked up by the full Appropriations Committee on Wednesday (July 13).

Read on for preliminary details of the bill’s proposals for agencies important to the social and behavioral sciences, and check back later in the week for a full analysis of the bill and report language.

National Institutes of Health

The House Subcommittee’s bill includes $33.3 billion for the NIH, $1.25 billion above the FY 2016 enacted level.  This sum is less than the $2 billion increase provided by the Senate but $2.25 billion above the President’s discretionary budget request. While the report language that accompanies the bill is not yet available, the bill language continues the recent trend of providing specific allocations for several programs and initiatives, including:

  • $165 million to support activities for the National Children’s Study
  • $511.5 million for Clinical and Translational Sciences Awards (CTSAs)
  • $333.3 million for Institutional Development Awards (IDeA) programs
  • $1.26 billion, a $350 million increase, for the Alzheimer’s disease research initiative
  • $195 million, a $45 million increase, for the Brain Research through Application of Innovative Neuro-technologies (BRAIN) initiative
  • $300 million for the Precision Medicine Initiative (PMI)
  • $12.6 million for the Gabriella Miller “Kids First” initiative, dedicated to pediatric cancer research

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

We know from the Appropriations Committee’s press release that the CDC’s program level is $7.8 billion in the House bill, which includes both discretionary and mandatory funds and transfers from the Prevention and Public Health Fund. The House total is roughly $600 million above FY 2016 and $700 million above the equivalent Senate figure. However, without the additional detail contained in the (as yet unreleased) House committee report, it is difficult to compare the House and Senate’s proposals for the CDC’s discretionary activities, which include its research and scientific work.

During the markup of the House bill last week, Democrats proposed two amendments to lift or work around the “Dickey amendment,” the perceived ban on gun violence research at the CDC.  Although both amendments failed along party lines, it was clear that the Democrats plan to have a more extensive debate on the subject during the full committee markup on Wednesday. While it is unlikely that any amendments on the subject would pass at that time, a repeal of the ban could conceivably become a bargaining chip during final conference negotiations.

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality

The House bill would cut the AHRQ by $53.8 million, about 16 percent. While this cut is not exactly good news for the agency, the House had proposed to completely eliminate the agency in its FY 2016 bill. Details on how the cut would be allocated among AHRQ’s research portfolios are not yet known. The Senate had proposed a smaller (3 percent) cut for the agency.

Sec. 529 of the House bill rescinds $150 million from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Trust Fund. AHRQ receives transfers each year from the fund to support its dissemination of research produced by the Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), so a cut to the Trust Fund would place additional pressure on AHRQ’s already-limited budget.

Bureau of Labor Statistics

Both chambers propose flat funding for the Bureau of Labor Statistics at $609 million, 5 percent below the Administration’s request of $640.9 million.

Department of Education

The specific House allocations for the Institute of Education Sciences (IES), Title VI, and the Fulbright-Hays program will not be available until after consideration by the full Appropriations Committee later this week. However, unofficially, we understand that the House bill would provide $65.1 million for Title VI and $7 million for Fulbright-Hays, the same as their FY 2016 funding levels.

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Posted in Issue 14 (July 12), Update, Volume 35 (2016)

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