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House Passes Labor-HHS-Education Spending Bill; Senate Readies Measure for Floor

This week, Congress made some progress on its consideration of the FY2002 spending bills. On October 11, the House voted, 373-43, to approve the FY2002 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education spending bill (H.R. 3061). The legislation was approved, by voice vote, by the Appropriations Committee on October 9. For bill details, see The Source, 10/5/01, p. 1.

On the Senate side, the measure moved quickly through the committee process, with the subcommittee approving the measure by voice vote on October 10, and the full committee approving it by a vote of 29-0 the following day.

House Floor Action
In the spirit of bipartisanship, no amendments were considered during the full committee’s mark-up on October 11. However, floor consideration of the measure was delayed over a controversial amendment by Rep. Melissa Hart (R-PA) that would have denied federal funds to school districts that provide or prescribe emergency contraception to minors in school-based health clinics.

As reported by the Rules Committee, the amendment would have been protected from a point of order. Generally, Members are prohibited from legislating on an appropriations bill and such language is subject to a point of order that would strike the language.

As a bipartisan effort to defeat the rule mounted, Rep. Hart withdrew the amendment from consideration noting that she had received assurances from the House leadership that the issue would be considered on the floor. “The amendment is actually being withdrawn in the interest of the larger body and the passage of a bipartisan Labor- HHS appropriation bill,” she said, continuing, “The amendment is extremely important, and I need to make clear that we will see the issue again.”

The House defeated, 106-311, an amendment by Rep. Ernest Istook (R-OK) that would have increased funding for abstinence-only sex education through the Maternal and Child Health Block Grant by $33 million to $73 million. The amendment was offset by reductions in the Child Care and Development Block Grant and the infectious diseases control program at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Speaking in support of his amendment, Rep. Istook said, “This is in response to the great crisis that we have had for decades regarding teen pregnancy, teen sexual activity, unwed births, and the tremendous catastrophic effect that it has had on America and on millions and millions of lives in America.” Adding that the amendment would bring parity between funding for abstinence-only and comprehensive sex education programs, he said, “To the chairman’s credit, the bill in front of us would bring that number to $90 million, but it does not bring it to parity with what we have been spending to promote so-called safe sex, family planning.”

Subcommittee Chair Ralph Regula (R-OH) opposed the amendment, saying, “I rise in opposition because in part it takes money from very important programs.”

Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) agreed, “Do not do this at the cost of the anthrax cases that we need to look into, breast and cervical cancer screening, and the care of women that absolutely need it and depend upon it.”

Senate Committee Action
Overall, the Senate bill provides the same level of funding as the House measure—$123.1 billion in discretionary spending for FY2002, an $11.2 billion increase over FY2001, and roughly $7 billion more than the original budget request. However, the Senate bill would provide larger increases for health programs than the House measure. At press time, limited bill details were available.

Department of Education: The Senate bill would provide a $6.3 billion increase for education programs compared to the House’s $7 billion increase. Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which provides funding for disadvantaged students, would receive a $1.4 billion increase to $10.2 billion. The House bill funded Title I at $10.5 billion.

The bill also would provide $3 billion for state grants to improve teacher quality, a $930 million increase over last year. The House provided $3.175 billion for these grants. Special education programs would be funded at $7.3 billion, a $1 billion increase. The House measure provided $7.7 billion for special education.

The maximum Pell Grant award would be increased to $4,000, a $250 increase over FY2001, the same as provided by the House. School renovation programs would receive $925 million. The House bill did not fund these programs. Additionally, the 21st Century Community Learning Centers would receive a $154.3 million increase to $1 billion, the same amount provided by the House.

Department of Health and Human Services: The National Institutes of Health would receive a $3.4 billion increase over last year, bringing total funding to $23.7 billion, while the House bill provided a $2.5 billion increase.

The Senate committee-approved bill would provide a $12 million increase for Title X to $266 million. The House measure provided $264 million. The Maternal and Child Health Block Grant would receive a $10 million increase over last year to $719 million. The House bill provided $740 million. Community health centers would receive a $175 million increase over last year to $1.3 billion, the same amount provided by the House.

The Ryan White CARE Act would be funded at $1.8 billion, a $75 million increase. The House bill provided $1.9 billion.

The bill would provide $30 million in forward funding for FY2003 for abstinence-only education through the Maternal and Child Health Block Grant. The House measure provided $40 million for this program. The Adolescent Family Life Act (AFLA) would be funded at $30 million, a $5.7 million increase. AFLA would receive $27.9 million under the House bill.

Additionally, the Senate measure would codify the President’s announcement restricting funds for human embryonic stem cell research to roughly 60 stem cell lines that were in existence prior to August 9, while granting the President the authority to expand federally sponsored stem cell research. The Senate bill also would provide $1 million for the adoption of excess human embryos resulting from in vitro fertilization. The House bill does not provide a similar earmark, nor does it codify the President’s policy.

Department of Labor: The Senate bill would provide additional funding for dislocated workers—$1.5 billion, a $130 million increase and the same amount provided by the House. An additional $2.8 billion would be provided for youth job training activities under the Senate bill. The House measure provided $1.35 billion.

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