Senate Subcommittee Approves $145.7B Labor-HHS-Education Fiscal Year 2006 Appropriations Bill
Members of the Senate Appropriations Labor, HHS, Education and Related Agencies Subcommittee on Tuesday by voice vote approved a $145.7 billion Labor-HHS-Education fiscal year 2006 appropriations bill after they added $3.3 billion for health-related programs through the delay of mandatory federal payments for disabled individuals until the next fiscal year, CongressDaily reports. The bill -- which authorizes discretionary funding for the Department of Labor, HHS and the Department of Education -- moves to the full Senate Appropriations Committee, which likely will address the legislation on Thursday and "speed it to the Senate floor," CongressDaily reports.
The bill would provide $2.7 billion more in discretionary funding than the House version of the legislation and $3.7 billion more than President Bush has requested (Hess, CongressDaily, 7/13). The House version of the bill, which passed on June 24, would provide $142.5 billion in discretionary funding -- 0.1% less than in FY 2005 and $924 million more than Bush has requested (CQ Today, 7/12).
The Senate subcommittee bill would delay Supplemental Security Income payments due at the end of September 2006 until Oct. 1 2006, which would move them to the FY 2007 federal budget. SSI, which provides monthly benefits to individuals with physical and mental disabilities, likely will cost $40.5 billion next fiscal year, compared with $39.5 billion this fiscal year. The legislation would use the $3.3 billion saved through the delayed SSI payments in part to increase funds for NIH (CongressDaily, 7/13).
The bill also "freed up" $105 million through a provision that would eliminate Medicare and Medicaid funding for erectile dysfunction medications, CQ Today reports (CQ Today, 7/13).
The legislation would provide $29.4 billion for NIH, an increase of $1.05 billion from FY 2005 and $905 million more than Bush has requested. HHS would receive $65.4 billion, an increase of $1.6 billion from FY 2005 and $2.9 billion more than Bush has requested (CongressDaily, 7/13). CDC would receive $225 million to expand and improve agency facilities, $195 million more than Bush has requested (Rogers, Wall Street Journal, 7/13).
In addition, the bill would provide $2 million for an embryo adoption awareness program, double the amount spent in FY 2005. The legislation also would "narrow the definition" of federal funding for abortion services to exclude referral services, CQ Today reports (CQ Today, 7/13).
Subcommittee Chair Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) said that the bill seeks to address previous reductions in funding for NIH research. He also called health care the "basic capital asset of America," adding, "The biggest bang for the buck in the federal budget is health care spending" (CongressDaily, 7/13).
According to the Journal, Bush "is sure to demand changes" to the legislation (Wall Street Journal, 7/13).