House Committee Approves Labor-HHS Appropriations Bill
Earlier today, as reported in a Committee press release, the House Appropriations Committee approved the draft fiscal year 2016 Labor, Health and Human Services funding bill on a vote of 30-21. The draft bill includes “$153 billion in discretionary funding, which is a reduction of $3.7 billion below the fiscal year 2015 enacted level and $14.6 billion below the President’s budget request.” The bill text is substantially the same as the draft passed out of subcommittee on June 17. The only changes to the text, as discussed in the press release, include the following amendments:
- Rep. Cole – The amendment makes technical and non-controversial changes to the bill and report. The amendment was adopted on a voice vote.
- Rep. Roybal-Allard – The amendment designates $750,000 in funding within the Children and Families Services Programs account to be used for a Child Poverty Study. The amendment was adopted on a voice vote.
- Rep. Kilmer – The amendment adds report language urging the Department of Education to provide clear and timely guidance to local school districts on how to calculate tax rates for the purposes of receiving certain types of federal aid. The amendment was adopted on a voice vote.
- Rep. Harris – The amendment prohibits funding to implement or enforce a National Labor Relations Board ruling that allows certain groups of employees within a larger company to form separate unions. The amendment was adopted on a voice vote.
- Rep. Kaptur – The amendment adds report language directing the Secretary of HHS, in consultation with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), to provide a report on certain prescription drug costs for Medicare, Medicaid, and the VA, as well as comparisons of these costs to other countries. In addition, it directs HHS to review and report on steps taken to competitively reduce prescription drug costs since 2001. The amendment was adopted on a voice vote.
As the bill summary for the draft bill explains, the bill funds the Department of Education at $64.4 billion, which is $2.8 billion below the fiscal year 2015 level and $6.4 billion below the President’s budget request.” Notably, the bill retains prohibitions on the Department of Education from “moving forward with regulations to establish a college ratings system, place new requirements on teacher preparation, define ‘gainful employment’ and ‘credit hour,’ and dictate how states must license institutions of higher education.” Rep. Rosa Delauro (D-CT) attempted to remove the spending prohibition related to gainful employment, but her amendment was defeated in a voice vote.
The bill also contains the following elements related to education:
- Special Education – The bill includes $12 billion for IDEA special education grants to states, an increase of more than $500 million over the fiscal year 2015 enacted level, which will increase the federal share of special education funding to states from 16 percent to 17 percent.
- Charter Schools Program – The bill includes an increase of $22 million over the fiscal year 2015 enacted level for grants to support the creation of new charter schools, for a total of $275 million.
- Pell Grants – The maximum Pell Grant award is increased to $5,915, funded by a combination of discretionary and mandatory funds.
- Impact Aid – The bill provides nearly $1.3 billion for Impact Aid, an increase of $10 million above the current enacted level.
The Senate Appropriations Committee takes up its version of the Labor-HHS appropriations bill tomorrow at 10:00am. The Senate appropriations subcommittee approved the Labor-HHS appropriations bill on June 22.