CHN: House Committee Approves Bill Funding Departments of Labor, HHS and Education

Amid much debate over overtime rules and restrictions on funding of abortions, the House Appropriations Committee passed a nearly $500 billion appropriations bill for fiscal 2005 on Wednesday, July 14 to fund the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS), and Education. The bill authorizes the government to fund $349.8 billion for entitlements programs, such as Medicare and Medicaid and $142.5 billion for discretionary programs. The level of discretionary spending in the Labor-HHS-Ed bill is $200 million more than President Bush requested and an increase of 2.2 percent over last year’s level. Some details from the bill:
Head Start receives a small boost to $6.898 billion, just barely enough to cover inflation.
Title XX, the Social Services Block Grant remains unchanged at $1.7 billion, far below the $2.8 billion Congress promised in 1996.
The Child Care and Development Block Grant (the discretionary portion) is funded at slightly less than $2.1 billion – restoring the across-the-board cuts made last year.
The discretionary portion of Promoting Safe and Stable Families was funded at $105 million, a small increase over last year but far below the authorized level (and the President’s request) of $200 million. (The mandatory portion is funded at $300 million.)
LIHEAP is funded at $2.227 billion, $64 million below the President’s request, but up $111 million over last year. According to the Campaign for Home Energy Assistance, this is the first time in years the appropriators have voted to increase LIHEAP spending.
Child Abuse State Grants received a $6 million increase to $28.4 million, far below President Bush’s request of an additional $20 million.
Funding for employment and training services remains flat. The bill does not incorporate additional WIA funding approved in the WIA reauthorization conference report. For more information on WIA funding, see The Workforce Alliance.
– WIA adult training program is level funded at $900 million, the President’s request.
– WIA youth training program is level funded at $1 billion, the President’s request.
– WIA dislocated worker program is level funded at $1.479 billion, $96 million more than the President’s request.
– Wagner-Peyser / Employment Service is cut 12 percent from last year, which is the same as the President’s request.
Title I elementary and secondary education for disadvantaged children received $13.4 billion, an increase of $1 billion over last year but $7.2 billion short of the level promised in the No Child Left Behind Act.
After-school centers are funded at $1 billion, the same level as last year.
Special Education (IDEA) grants are funded at $11.1 billion, the same as the President’s request and an increase of $1 billion over last year. However, the increase brings special education funding to less than half of the amount needed to fulfill the federal government’s promise to pick up 40 percent of the cost of educating children with disabilities.

Representative David Obey (D-WI) sought to gain support for an amendment to the bill that would have altered the changes to overtime standards that are set to go into effect on August 23. The Economic Policy Institute recently issued a report stating that the rules could strip up to 6 million workers of overtime pay for work they perform. Obey sought to include language in the bill that would prohibit employers from taking away overtime pay, while allowing them to expand their overtime payroll. The amendment was defeated by a party-line vote of 29-31.

The House will not bring the Labor-HHS-Ed bill to the House floor for a vote before the recess begins July 26 and the Senate is not expected to act on the Labor-HHS-Ed bill until after the August recess. It is increasingly likely that several appropriations bills will be rolled into an omnibus in the Senate in September.

For More Information
CHN analysis of the President’s FY 2005 budget proposal: Slamming the Door Shut on Opportunity for All Americans
House Appropriations Committee press release on Labor-HHS-Education bill
Program-by-program funding in subcommittee-approved Labor-HHS-Education bill (This table shows program levels approved by the subcommittee – not the full Appropriations committee. However, most program levels remain the same.)

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