CHN: Appropriations Update
The House approved an appropriations bill for Labor-Health and Human Services-Education programs (H.R. 3043) on July 19, with a bipartisan vote of 276 to 140. (Roll call vote: http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2007/roll686.xml) Fifty-three Republicans joined 223 Democrats to support the legislation. The bill includes $151.6 billion in annual appropriations, up 5 percent ($7 billion) over this year’s funding, and 8 percent ($10.6 billion) above the President’s request. Increases in low-income programs were modest, but there was above-inflation growth for community health centers (up 8 percent above inflation), rural health (10 percent), runaway and homeless youth services (9 percent), home energy assistance (LIHEAP, heating and cooling) (20 percent), Title I K-12 education (9 percent), afterschool programs (10 percent), and Pell grants (12 percent). The House budget also very slightly increased funds for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (up 1 percent over inflation), but cut Head Start by 1 percent after taking inflation into account.
The Bush Administration has threatened to veto this bill, issuing a Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) on July 17 saying that the President had proposed gross savings of $3.1 billion for the Department of Education, $1.2 billion for the Department of Labor, and $2.3 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services, “so that resources could be directed to more important needs.” (To see the Administration’s SAP: http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/legislative/sap/110-1/hr3043sap-h.pdf). The President’s budget made substantial cuts in many programs serving low-income people, whose needs were apparently seen as less important. Among the services the President would cut below current spending: job training programs, rural health, mental health and substance abuse treatment, Head Start, LIHEAP home energy assistance, special education (IDEA), the Community Service Block Grant, nutrition for the elderly, and Pell grants. Four of the members who had signed a letter pledging to support the President in his vetoes of appropriations bills nevertheless voted for the Labor-HHS-Ed bill. They are Shays (R-CT), Gilchrest (R-MD), LaTourette (R-OH), and Rogers (R-AL). Rep. Shays was quoted in CQ Today as backing away from support for a Labor-H veto: “I’m going to re-look at the letter I signed and may have to go down to the White House and say I’m not on board.” Still, since overriding a veto requires two-thirds of those present and voting, the margin of the House vote on Thursday was just shy of the number needed to override.
If the President carries out his threat, the vote will be very close.
The changes to the bill passed in committee were not very substantial (for more information about previous House and Senate committee action, see HNR, June 29, http://www.chn.org/humanneeds/070629b.html; for a comparison table, see http://www.chn.org/pdf/2007/laborhfy08housesendiffs.pdf).
The vote took place after the House slogged through hundreds of amendments and adopted 26 in several days of floor debate. Since members could not increase the overall funding in the bill, successful funding amendments involved shifting from one account to another. For example, an amendment by Rep. Mike Ferguson (R-NJ) added $50 million for special education by reducing the Department of Education’s administrative funding by a like amount. (An amendment in full committee had previously added $330 million to state grants under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act – IDEA, and took the money from Workforce Investment Act programs.) Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ) added $10 million for an autism program and another $10 million for the National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute, coupled with a cut of $49 million in undesignated employment and training funds. Rep. Garrett had initially called for taking these funds from the Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers job training program, but that cut was rejected, a good sign of Congressional support for a program that the President has in the past proposed to eliminate. (Current funding for the Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers program is $79.7 million; the House provides $83.74 million for FY 2008).
What’s Next: The full Senate must take up its Labor-HHS-Ed bill (S. 1710); no date has been set yet.
Last week the House and Senate Appropriations Committees marked up the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies which funds programs in HUD. For the first time since 2002 both bills contain funding for new Section 8 rental vouchers; $30 million in the House bill for 4,000 vouchers (3,000 for persons with disabilities and 1,000 for homeless veterans) and $105 million in the Senate for 14,000 vouchers (10,000 for homeless veterans and 4,000 for families separated or at risk of separation due to foster care). Both bills reject cuts proposed by the President to Community Development Block Grants, Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly, and Section 811 Housing for Persons with Disabilities. The House increases Project Based Rental Assistance by $504 million over current year spending. House funding is $667 million more than the President had requested for these HUD contracts with private owners to provide housing to low-income renters. While the House rejects the Administration’s claim that a cut below this year’s spending is enough to renew current contracts, the Senate funds the program at the President’s request, $163 million below current funding, in effect challenging HUD to come back if the funding they have requested is insufficient. Both bills increase the Public Housing Operating Fund $336 million beyond the FY 2007 level, $200 million more than the President’s request. Both House and Senate continue to exacerbate the inadequate resources for public housing construction and modernization with level funding in the House bill and a small $61 million increase in the Senate bill for the Public Housing Capital Fund.
What’s Next: The full House will take up the Transportation-HUD appropriations bill on Monday, July 23.
See the National Low Income Housing Coalition chart for other housing and homeless programs at:http://www.nlihc.org/doc/FY08_BudgetChart.pdf
Juvenile justice programs are funded in the Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations bill. On June 28 the full Senate Appropriations Committee marked up its bill and the House Appropriations Committee followed suit on July 12. Both bills reject the Administration’s FY ’08 request to combine all current juvenile justice and delinquency prevention programs into a single, new “Child Safety and Juvenile Justice” block grant and fund it at a level that is 25 percent lower than the total FY ’07 funding for the programs eliminated. The Senate bill contains overall funding for FY ’08 of $339.5 million for juvenile justice programs, nearly the same as in ’07. The House level comes in at $346 million, $6.5 million higher than the Senate. The Administration has threatened to veto the bill but has not yet specified its rationale for a veto. The full House is scheduled to consider the Commerce-Justice-State bill next week with action in the Senate likely after the August recess.
What’s Next: The full House is expected to take up Commerce-Justice-State appropriations on Tuesday, July 24.
For funding levels of individual juvenile justice programs see this chart prepared by Fight Crime Invest in Kids:http://www.chn.org/pdf/2007/jj08funding.pdf
On July 19 the House and Senate Appropriations Committees approved agriculture appropriations bills. The House bill contains record funding for two major discretionary food security programs: the Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC) and the Commodity Supplemental Food Program (CSFP). WIC, which receives 30 percent of the total discretionary funding in the bill, received $415 million over the ’07 levels and $233 over the President’s request. CSFP supplements the diets of seniors age 60 and older and smaller numbers of infants up to 12 months, children to age 6, women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or have had a baby within the past year with foods purchased and distributed by the USDA. (Children and pregnant women can only use one of these two programs, not both.) The House bill contains $150 million for CSFP, up from this year’s level of $107.2 million. The President’s budget eliminated the program altogether. The Senate Agriculture Appropriations bill increases WIC by even more, ($515 million over ’07 levels) and provides $128 million for CSFP. The Agriculture appropriations bill also funds programs aimed at keeping our nation’s food and water supply safe and educating children and adults about the importance of healthy eating habits to combat obesity, diabetes and other health-related conditions. The House subcommittee bill includes $18.7 billion in discretionary spending, about $1 billion more than both 2007 levels and the President’s request. The Senate allocation is $116 million below the House. What’s Next: The House bill is expected to get to the floor during the week of July 30; Senate floor time is not yet set.