Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations

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Issue: Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations

Impact:

Some of the grant programs included in the Health and Human Services (HHS) appropriations can be used to support state courts efforts.

Position:

State courts advocate full funding for those programs that will assist courts in dealing with the effects of federal initiatives on state courts.

Summary:

The appropriations bills for HHS include funding to for the child support enforcement program, child welfare services, and programs related to substance abuse and mental health services.  

Status:

For FY 2014, Promoting Safe and Stable Families (PSSF) funding remained unchanged, which meant Court Improvement Program (CIP) funds remained at $30M.  PSSF discretionary funds were reduced by $3.3M.  The CIP program receives 3.3% of PSSF discretionary funds.  The Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) discretionary grants program received a slight increase and Congress directed HHS to use $3 million of the funds for competitive grants to support the implementation of research-based court team models. 

In the FY 2015 omnibus appropriations bill (P.L. 113-235), child welfare funding was flat.        

The President’s FY 2016 budget request included proposed appropriations increases and changes in law to expand child welfare services, including the following authorizations:

  • $50M to address overuse of psychotropic medications;
  • federal reimbursement for pre-placement and post-placement services;
  • $6.9M to promote alternatives to congregate care for children; and
  • $15M for competitive grants to design programs that prevent children from being lured into illegal activities including, sex trafficking.

On 6/24/15, the House Appropriations Committee approved H.R. 3020 by a voice vote.  The House Committee recommended keeping most programs at the FY 2015 funding level.  On 6/25/15, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved S. 1695 by a vote of 16-14.  The Senate Committee also recommended keeping most programs at the FY 2015 funding level.

For the most part, the FY 2016 omnibus spending bill (P.L. 114-113), held child welfare programs at the same funding level that they have been at for several years.  The Abandoned Infants Assistance Program was not reauthorized and, therefore, defunded. 

On 6/9/16, the full Senate Appropriations Committee approved the spending bill for the Departments of Labor, HHS, and Education (S 3040). For the most part, the bill provides level funding.  There is a Congressional Budget Office calculations issue with the Promoting Safe and Stable funding grant that will need to be worked out.  There is some chance the House Appropriations Committee will mark up a Labor-HHS-Education bill before they go into recess in mid-July; however, most Hill watchers believe Congress will be unable to send a Labor-HHS-Education appropriations bill to the President before the end of the fiscal year. Therefore, Congress is expected to pass a temporary Continuing Resolution (CR) with flat funding to get them into the new fiscal year and past the November elections. 

After a year-end CR extended FY 2016 spending levels until April, the 115th Congress will impose its will on the FY 2017 appropriations and as well as for FY 2018.