CHN: House Approves Labor-HHS-Education Spending Bill

By a vote of 250 to 151 , the House approved a bill funding many education and human needs programs on June 24. The Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services and Education appropriations bill sets spending for those agencies for fiscal year 2006.
The measure approved on the floor is very similar to Appropriations Committee’s recommendations. (See June 17 Human Needs Report .) The bill, sponsored by Appropriation Chairman Ralph Regula (R-OH), authorizes $142.5 billion in discretionary spending (funding that must be appropriated each year) for fiscal year 2006, a decline of $164 million (or 0.1 percent) from last year’s level. The President requested even less funding in his budget ($141.5). The total cost of the bill equals $602 billion, when mandatory programs such as Medicaid and Medicare are added in.

A proposed $100 million cut to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), which supports public television and National Public Radio, attracted heated debate. Decrying the reduction, members of both parties took to the House floor holding stuffed Big Birds and Elmos. In the end, 87 Republicans joined with 196 Democrats to restore the funding by passing an amendment sponsored by Ranking Member David Obey (D-WI), Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Rep. Jim Leach (R-IA).

The bill as passed by committee and agreed to on the floor includes many other cuts to human needs services, including a $23 million cut to the Maternal and Child Health Block Grant (a 3.3 percent reduction), a $21 million cut to mental health services (a 2.3 percent reduction) and a $316 million cut (a 50 percent reduction) to community services . Employment and training services also suffered deep reductions, including a $30 million cut to adult training (a 3.4 percent reduction), a $36 million cut to youth training (a 3.6 percent reduction), and a $10 million cut to Job Corps.

To see a complete listing of funding and a comparison to last year’s levels, look at the chart prepared by the Appropriations Committee:   *** Page Not Found

The Senate will start its work on the Labor-HHS-Education bill after the Independence Day recess, which runs July 1 through July 11. The Senate’s total discretionary level for the bill, $141.344 billion, is slightly lower than the House amount.

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