CHN: Senate Appropriations Committee $2 Billion Short of Funds Promised to Labor-HHS-Ed Programs
On June 22, the Senate Appropriations Committee divvied up its pot of money among its subcommittees, allocating $142.8 billion for FY 2007 spending for Labor-HHS-Education programs. That amount is $5 billion more than the President had proposed, and about $900 million more than the amount approved by the House Appropriations Committee. But it is $2 billion less than the amount specified in a successful amendment to the Senate budget resolution, approved by the full Senate in March. The budget amendment to add $7 billion for Labor-HHS-Education was sponsored by Senators Specter (R-PA) and Harkin (D-IA), and garnered 72 votes. The rationale for adding $7 billion was to prevent cuts in health, education, job training, and social services below the FY 2005 levels. The amount allocated to Labor-HHS-Education is insufficient to avoid cuts, despite the overwhelming vote intended to prevent them.
The full Senate Appropriations Committee is scheduled to take up the Labor-HHS-Education FY 2007 spending bill on July 20 (the Labor-HHS-Ed Subcommittee must act first; its session has not been scheduled yet, although there were earlier expectations it would meet on July 18). Even if the Appropriations Committee acts as scheduled, most analysts are predicting that the bill will not go to the Senate floor until the fall. Funding for Labor-HHS-Education and other appropriations may be rolled into a big temporary spending bill called a continuing resolution if final agreement with the House cannot be achieved before the start of the FY 2007 fiscal year on October 1.
Advocates are concerned that final cuts are likely to be held off until after the November elections, allowing members of Congress to avoid accountability for such votes. Some activities have been scheduled by advocates in target states to press both House and Senate members to commit to funding sufficient at least to avoid cuts. Groups in Missouri working with the Emergency Campaign for America’s Priorities (ECAP) held a press event calling upon Representative Jo Ann Emerson to vote against inadequate funding. Margarida Jorge of Missouri ProVote, speaking for the Missouri groups, was quoted in the Dexter Daily Statesman, “We’re especially concerned in the 8th Congressional District since this going to really hit people hard,” she said. “It’s an area where there are a disproportionately high number of elderly and people with disabilities.” Reacting to the possibility that appropriations decisions would be put off until after the election, Jorge’s quote continues, “That really outrages us,” she said, “because we feel Missouri voters deserve to know where our members stand before they go to the polls.”
For Senate allocations of FY 2007 funding to Appropriations subcommittees, see http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=109_cong_reports&docid=f:sr268.109.pdf
For roll call vote for Specter-Harkin amendment to add $7 billion to health, education, etc. programs, see http://www.senate.gov/legislative/LIS/roll_call_lists/roll_call_vote_cfm.cfm?congress=109&session=2&vote=00058
For June 30th Dexter, MO Daily Statesman article, see http://www.dailystatesman.com/story/1158679.html