House Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee Approves Spending Bill
The House Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee on Thursday approved by voice vote the Labor, Health, Human Services, Education and Related Agencies draft bill for fiscal year 2006, CQ Today reports. The bill would provide a total of $602 billion to various programs, including Medicaid and Medicare. Discretionary funding would be $142.5 billion, a 0.1% decrease from 2005 (Swindell, CQ Today, 6/9). The bill would "terminate scores of government programs and cut more than $1 billion from current funding" for the departments of Labor and HHS, the Wall Street Journal reports. Funds for existing initiatives, such as health-professional programs to train minorities in medical fields, were "squeeze[d] out" by the added cost of administering the new Medicare prescription drug law, the Journal reports. CMS' budget would increase by $515 million under the bill (Rogers, Wall Street Journal, 6/10).
The discretionary spending funding cut would be $163 million compared with the 2005 level, although subcommittee Democrats argued that the cut could be closer to $1.6 billion when "unanticipated costs associated with implementation of the 2003 Medicare prescription drug law" and home energy funding are taken into account, CongressDaily reports. The bill would provide NIH with $28.5 billion for medical research, an increase of 0.5%. That would mark the smallest increase in 36 years (Cohn, CongressDaily, 6/9). CDC would receive $5.9 billion -- a 32% increase over 2005 and $1.9 billion more than President Bush requested. The increase is attributed largely to a $1.6 billion boost in terrorism preparedness funding.
Subcommittee Chair Ralph Regula (R-Ohio) said, "We had to make some very tough decisions," adding, "We've done the best with the amount of money we had" (CQ Today, 6/9).