Capitol Correspondence - 05.04.19

Congress Releases Labor-HHS Funding Bill – What Does that Mean for I/DD?

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House Democratic appropriators, who as part of the majority party in the House can shape the House’s initial budget proposals, have released their FY20 budget proposal for the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services (HHS). Here is the full bill and summary, and video of the mark up can be viewed here. This year the House Appropriations Committee proposes $631 billion total in non-defense spending. The Labor-HHS bill is important since it covers vast funding for disability supports and labor/workforce initiatives. While the President’s budget received much media attention in March, it must be noted that Congress holds the powers of the purse and ultimately decides what funding can be spent on (authorizations) and how much funding can be spent (appropriations).

The FY20 proposal still has to pass the HouseCommittee vote, then a House floor vote, then obtain approval from the Republican-led Senate and finally obtain the President’s signature before becoming law. As such, while we expect compromises to change the final numbers, currently the proposal grants an $8.5 billion funding increase to HHS. Within that, our coalition partners have identified the following line items of note for the disability community:

  • $3 billion for Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Grants, $178 million above the fiscal year 2019 enacted level and President’s budget request.
  • $1.2 billion, an increase of $138 million, for HRSA’s Bureau of Health Professions programs to support the medical workforce.
  • $973 million, an increase of $46 million, for HRSA programs to improve maternal and child health, including an additional $5 million to reduce maternal mortality.
  • Early childhood programs receive an increase of $4 billion:
  • $245 million for Family Caregivers Services, an increase of $26 million above the 2019 enacted level.
  • $14.5 billion for Special Education, an increase of $1.05 billion above the 2019 enacted level and $1.07 billion above the President’s budget request. Within this amount, the bill provides:
  • $13.4 billion for Part B Grants to States, an increase of $1 billion above the 2019 enacted level and President’s budget request, and
  • $21 million for Special Olympics education programs, an increase of $3.5 million above the 2019 enacted level. The President’s budget proposes to eliminate this program.
  • $13 billion for the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) operating expenses, with an increase of $300 million above the 2019 enacted level to hire additional staff at field offices, teleservice and processing centers and improve public services.