CHN: Labor-HHS-Education Spending Bill Contains Important Gains for Human Needs Programs

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education took up and passed (voice vote) its FY20 spending bill on April 30. The “Labor-H” bill provides $189.8 billion for the departments, up $11.7 billion or 6 percent over FY19 and up $47.8 billion over President Trump’s FY20 budget request. Including unused funds in the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the bill would spend $204 billion in total. Advocates were pleased that the proposed increase for this spending bill is proportional to the total nondefense discretionary (annually-appropriated) spending increased proposed by House leaders, which has not always been the case in past years. The full House Appropriations Committee is expected to take up the bill on May 8. A summary of the Labor-H bill from House Democratic appropriators can be found here. The full text of the bill can be found here.

Advocates were also pleased that the proposal contains increases for numerous important human needs programs. For example, the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) is increased by $2.4 billion to a total of $7.7 billion, a 45 percent increase over FY19 levels without adjusting for inflation. This builds on a substantial increase in CCDBG funding provided in FY18, though child care resources would still remain short of what is needed to assist all eligible children. Head Start funding grows from $10.1 billion to $11.6 billion, an increase of 15 percent. Funding for Preschool Development Grants rises from $250 million to $350 million.

Job training programs, flat-funded for many years (and therefore cut roughly 16 percent by inflation since FY2010), see an increase in this bill as well. For example, Adult Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) job training funding rises from $845.6 million to $900 million, and Youth WIOA increases from $903.4 million to $964 million. YouthBuild funding rises from $89.5 million to $128 million.

The bill increases funding for many programs that President Trump’s FY20 budget proposal would have eliminated, including the Senior Community Service Employment for Older Americans program, which gets an increase from $400 million to $464 million, and the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which receives $3.8 billion, an increase of $150 million. Funding for 21st Century Community Learning Centers, which provide afterschool programs, rises from $1.2 billion to $1.3 billion.

In education, the bill provides an increase of $1 billion for Title I K-12 low-income schools, to $16.9 billion; and an increase of $1 billion for Special Education Part B Grants to States, to $13.4 billion. English Language Acquisition funding increases from $737.4 million to $980 million, a one-third increase. The maximum Pell Grant rises to $6,345 per student, an increase of $150 over maximum in FY 2019. Federal Work Study would be increased to $1.4 billion, a $304 million bump.

Funding for the National Institutes of Health is $41.1 billion in the proposal, an increase of $2 billion over FY19. The bill also includes $50 million for firearm injury and mortality prevention research at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the NIH.

Total funding for Refugee and Entrant Assistance programs is up from $1.9 billion to $2.4 billion, to cope with the increased number of families and children entering the country, many seeking asylum. The bill includes language prohibiting the use of funds for sharing of information between HHS and the Department of Homeland Security about the immigration status of family members with whom a migrant child is placed. The bill also prohibits the use of funds to go against existing laws and court agreements that protect migrant children from being incarcerated or from being deported without consideration of their safety.

Even with the increases, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities noted that total funding for all programs covered in the Labor-H bill would be just 3 percent above what it was a decade ago in inflation-adjusted terms.

Budget and Appropriations
child care
early childhood