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Senate Labor-HHS-Education Bill Approved by Committee

On September 7, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved its fiscal year (FY) 2018 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) Appropriations Bill; the Labor-HHS Subcommittee advanced the bill on September 5. This bill contains annual funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Department of Education (ED), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), and Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), among other federal departments and agencies. The House Appropriations Committee passed its version of the bill on July 19; the bill recently passed the House as part of a 12-bill omnibus (see related article).

The next step for the bill is consideration by the full Senate. However, Congress recently struck a deal with the White House on a continuing resolution (CR) to keep the government funded into next fiscal year (which begins October 1) through December 8. This is intended to provide additional time for lawmakers to come to agreement on overall budget levels, including the spending caps that are currently casting a major shadow on the FY 2018 appropriations bills; the bills have been written to exceed the caps currently set in law, signaling that a budget deal could be negotiated in the weeks ahead.

Read on for COSSA’s analysis of the Senate Appropriations Committee’s proposals for the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Bureau of Labor Statistics, and Department of Education.

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Posted in Issue 18 (September 19), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

Pressure’s on as Congress Returns to Packed Agenda

Congress returns this week from its month-long August recess with just 12 working days left until fiscal year (FY) 2017 is a wrap. While September is a typically busy stretch as policymakers try to finish work on the annual appropriations bills and tie up other end-of-the-fiscal-year loose ends, the next few weeks promise to be even more challenging than recent years.

First on deck is an $8 billion emergency relief package in response to Hurricane Harvey. In addition, Congress will need to raise the federal debt ceiling in the next couple of weeks as well as take action to avoid a government shutdown before October 1. Prior to leaving for recess, Congress started making progress on the annual appropriations bills; work will continue over the next few weeks (see COSSA’s coverage here). In fact, the Senate Appropriations Committee will consider the FY 2018 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies bill later this week.

While a likely final outcome is a multi-bill omnibus, such a package will not make it to the President’s desk by the end of the month. Congressional leaders are now talking about a three month continuing resolution (CR) to give lawmakers until the end of the calendar year to complete work on the spending legislation.

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Posted in Issue 17 (September 5), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

Congress Moves FY 2018 Spending Bills Ahead of August Recess

The House and Senate have worked in recent weeks to advance as many of the fiscal year (FY) 2018 annual appropriations bills as possible before heading out of town for the typical month-long August recess. Details have been emerging on lawmakers’ funding plans for agencies and programs important to the COSSA community.

The House Appropriations Committee approved two bills this month that provide the bulk of funding support for the social sciences. The Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies (CJS) appropriations bill, which funds the National Science Foundation, Department of Justice, and Census Bureau, was approved on July 13. The Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies appropriations bill, which funds the National Institutes of Health and other HHS agencies, Department of Education, and Bureau of Labor Statistics, was approved on July 19. The next step for both bills is consideration by the full House; however, that is not likely to happen until after the August recess when Congress returns following Labor Day. Instead, the House will work this week toward passing a so-called “security mini-bus” that will include the Defense, Energy-Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction-VA appropriations bills; the package is likely to also contain $1.6 billion for the construction of President Trump’s southern border wall, which as one could expect leaves the fate of the FY 2018 appropriations process on touchy ground.

Over on the Senate side, the Appropriations Subcommittees are just starting their work on their versions of the FY 2018 spending bills. The Senate Appropriations Committee approved its version of the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies appropriations bill on July 20; the House Appropriations Committee advanced its bill on July 12. In addition, the Senate CJS bill will be marked up in subcommittee on July 25 and by the full Appropriations Committee on July 27. But even if the Senate were able to complete work on the CJS bill before leaving for recess (Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has promised to delay the Senate’s recess until mid-August to allow time to finish work on the Obamacare repeal), the differences in top-line funding between the House and Senate leave final negotiations on all of the appropriations bills still a tall order.

Adding in plans by House and Senate leaders to strike a larger budget deal to lift the annual spending caps (which would require the appropriations bills to be rewritten, including those already approved by committee) and the need to raise the federal debt ceiling by early October, policy makers will return to Washington this fall with a lot on their plate before the current fiscal year expires on September 30.

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Posted in Issue 15 (July 25), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

COSSA Joins Community in Urging Increased Allocation for Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations Bill

COSSA joined nearly 800 organizational stakeholders of the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) appropriations bill in a letter to the Appropriations leadership urging it to increase the fiscal year (FY) 2018 302(b) allocation, which is the committee’s funding cap on spending for each of the appropriation bills. While the letter acknowledges the Subcommittee’s “broad range of constituencies and needs,” it also recognizes that the programs funded under the Labor-HHS bill “are continually short-changed in the annual appropriations process.” Accordingly, the scientific community emphasizes that “without an increase in the Labor-HHS 302(b) allocation, it will be impossible to meaningfully increase investments in important initiatives.”

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Posted in Issue 10 (May 16), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

HHS Secretary Appears Before House Appropriations Subcommittee, Suggests NIH Budget Cuts to Come From “Efficiencies” in Indirect Costs

On March 29, newly appointed Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) former Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) made his first appearance before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies. Welcoming the Secretary, Subcommittee Chairman Tom Cole (R-OK) began the hearing by pointing out that the proposed cuts in the Budget Blueprint (aka “skinny budget”) released by the Administration on March 16 “are extensive and span the reach of [the] agency.” Cole asked Price how the Department intends to solve “some of the challenges” the budget poses to HHS, including those related to the Indian Health Services. He emphasized the subcommittee’s need to understand the detail of the cuts proposed, as well as any proposed downgrading or elimination of agency missions. (more…)

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Posted in Issue 7 (April 4), Update, Volume 36 (2017)

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. (more…)

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

Senate Presses Forward on 2017 Spending Bills

The Senate Appropriations Committee has been making progress over the last several weeks on its fiscal year (FY) 2017 appropriations bills in an effort to pass as many of the bills as possible before heading home in mid-July for the party conventions and August recess (follow all of the developments on the COSSA website).  The FY 2017 Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations Bill, which made it out of Committee on April 21, is expected to be on the Senate floor later this week. Stay tuned – COSSA will be closely monitoring the floor debate as this is when we could see amendments that could harm social science research accounts.

In addition, on June 9, the Senate Appropriations Committee reported out the FY 2017 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) Appropriations Bill. This bill serves as the vehicle for annual appropriations for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Department of Education (ED), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), and Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as well as many other federal departments and agencies. Committee members noted that this bill represents the first bipartisan Senate Labor-HHS bill in seven years; this tends to be one of the more controversial and divisive of the 12 appropriations bills given that it provides funding for the Department of Health and Human Services and sections of the Affordable Care Act. The House has yet to release its version of the bill, but is rumored to have something ready by the end of the month.

Check out COSSA’s in-depth analysis for full details.

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

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