Health Center Federal Policy

Senate Consideration of Labor-HHS-Education Bill Set for Tomorrow (Tuesday); Continuing Resolution Introduced in the House

The Senate Labor – Health and Human Services (HHS) – Education Subcommittee is scheduled to markup the measure that funds the Health Centers program Tuesday, Sept. 20. The Subcommittee’s allocation for its bill looks better than expected.  It contains some level of reduction from FY2011 spending levels ($300 million less than the FY2011-enacted level), but this is not too drastic when considering the significant pressure all around to reduce spending. The Subcommittee still does need to find some additional funding for Pell grants (approximately $1 billion) but, again, all told – we’re looking at a much better allocation than what the House was previously considering (at least $18 billion less than the FY2011-enacted level).

As you’ll recall, the House Labor – HHS – Education Subcommittee has twice postponed consideration of its Appropriations bill. We have heard that the postponements may be due to division among House Republicans on the Committee regarding acceptance of an allocation that’s above what would be provided under the Ryan Budget. We still await word as to if and when the House will move forward with the measure.

There are two weeks left in the fiscal year and none of the 12 appropriations or spending bills for FY2012 have been enacted into law. We are hearing that House Republicans are considering plans to combine the 12 annual appropriations bills into a single omnibus package that meets spending targets set in the August budget deal. However, there appears to be some reluctance on the part of more conservative members of the House Republican Conference to support such a package, which may necessitate House Republican Leadership putting forward a FY2012 package that would garner the support of House Democrats in order to get an omnibus passed.  Last week, the House Appropriations Committee unveiled a short-term Continuing Resolution (CR) that would keep government programs funded through Nov. 18 to buy the House, Senate, and White House additional time to consider, pass, and enact all 12 spending bills.  The CR funds all programs, with a few exceptions, at a level that stays within the discretionary limit established by this summer’s debt deal.  As you know, the debt deal set FY2012 discretionary spending at a level that is $7 billion below the FY2011-enacted level.  So the CR has to account for a prorated portion of this decrease.  Additionally, since the CR contains supplemental funding for areas impacted by recent disasters, including Hurricane Irene, there were further across-the-board reductions made to offset the additional funding.  All told, programs will be funded at a level that is 1.409 percent lower than the FY2011-enacted level.

We here at NACHC ask our grassroots advocates to please continue to stress the importance of Health Centers funding in your discussions with your Members on the Appropriations Committees. Stay tuned for the latest on the Appropriations process!