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LHHSE Spending Bill Sent to the President

After the education reform bill (H.R. 1) was cleared for the President, conferees on the FY2002 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education appropriations bill (H.R. 3061) were able to complete work on the spending measure. On December 19, the House approved the conference report by a vote of 393-30. The Senate followed suit the next day, approving it by a vote of 90-7. Funding levels for several programs were not yet available but will be detailed in WPI’s Fall Quarterly, to be published in January 2002.

In addition to disagreements over education funding levels, conferees also had to decide whether to include a Senate-passed provision that would have required all health plans to cover mental health in the same manner that they cover physical illness. Sponsored by Sens. Pete Domenici (R-NM) and Paul Wellstone (D-MN), the provision would have prohibited insurers that currently offer mental health benefits from treating mental health benefits differently than medical or surgical benefits. The provision would have applied to companies with 50 or more employees that provide health care coverage and would not have been implemented until 2003 in order to skirt FY2002 budget caps.

While Senate conferees supported inclusion of the mental health parity provision, House conferees and the administration were opposed to its inclusion. In the end, it was dropped, but conferees agreed to extend the Mental Health Parity Act of 1996 for one year. Enacted as part of the FY1997 Veterans Affairs, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies appropriations bill (P.L. 104-204), the provision expired on September 30. Under current law, insurers that offer mental health coverage are required to set similar limits on annual and lifetime coverage for mental and physical illnesses. Rep. Randy Cunningham (R-CA) offered the extension as an amendment during the House-Senate conference on December 18.

Department of Education: The bill funds programs under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) at $29.6 billion, a $4.6 billion increase over FY2001. Title I of the ESEA, which funds programs for disadvantaged students, is funded at $12.3 billion, $1 billion less than the House bill and $1.2 billion less than the Senate bill but $2.6 billion more than last year. Several new initiatives also are funded under the bill at the same amount requested by the President and provided by the House and Senate: the Reading First program receives $900 million and the Early Reading First program receives $75 million. Additionally, the Even Start program is level-funded at $250 million, $10 million less than the House bill.

The bill provides $387 million for states to develop and implement math and reading assessments. Grants for improving teacher quality are funded at $2.85 billion. This new grant program consolidates the Eisenhower Professional Development program and the class size reduction program. Special education grants receive a $1.3 billion increase to $7.75 billion, $187 million less than the House bill and $233 million more than the Senate bill. The Senate-passed version of the education reform bill (S. 1) would have made funding for special education mandatory; however, the change was not included in the final measure.

The maximum Pell Grant award is increased to $4,000 in FY2002, a $250 increase over last year’s maximum award. Both the House and Senate bills provided the same increase. The 21st Century Community Learning Centers receive a $154 million increase over last year to $1 billion, the same amount requested by the President and provided by the House and Senate. The Safe and Drug-Free Schools program is level-funded at $664 million, the same amount requested by the President and provided by the House and Senate.

The bill provides $1 million for loan forgiveness for child care providers, the same amount provided by the House and Senate. Under the program, individuals who earned a degree in early childhood education and who work for two years as a child care provider in a low-income community would have a portion of their student loans forgiven.

Two programs affecting women are level-funded: the Women’s Educational Equity Act (WEEA) receives $3 million, and the Child Care Access Means Parents in School (CAMPUS) program receives $25 million, the same amounts provided by the House and Senate. The President’s budget request did not include funding for WEEA and level-funded the CAMPUS program.

Department of Health and Human Services: The National Institutes of Health receives a $3 billion increase to $23.3 billion. That level is $244 million more than the President’s request and $410 million more than provided by the House and Senate. Community health centers receive $1.34 billion, a $175 million increase over last year.

Overall, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is funded at $4.3 billion, $431 million more than FY2001, $597 million more than the President’s request, $216 million more than the House bill, and $126 million less than the Senate bill. Of this amount, HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases, and tuberculosis prevention programs receive $1.1 billion, a $24 million increase over last year.

Report language urges the CDC to review the Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring Survey to “explore the feasibility of establishing a uniform state and national reporting system of pregnancy related health data.” Additionally, the conference report provides $12 million for fetal alcohol syndrome prevention.

The National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program is funded at $192.6 million in FY2002, a $13.6 million increase over FY2001.

The Ryan White CARE Act receives a $103 million increase to $1.9 billion. That level is $103 million more than the budget request, $9 million less the House bill and $28 million more than the Senate bill.

Title X, the nation’s family planning program, receives a $12 million increase to $265 million. The House bill provided $264 million, while the Senate bill provided $266 million.

Total funding for abstinence-only education programs is set at $100.16 million in FY2002. Of that amount, programs operated through the Maternal and Child Health Bureau receive a $20 million increase to $40 million; mandatory abstinence-only education programs, as established under the 1996 welfare reform law, receive $50 million; and programs operated under the Adolescent Family Life Act (AFLA) are funded at $10.16 million. The AFLA receives $28.9 million in FY2002.

Funding for Head Start is increased by $338 million to $6.5 billion in FY2001. That represents $213 million more than the budget request, $62 million more than the House bill, and $62 million less than the Senate bill. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration is funded at $3.1 billion, $175 million more than FY2001 and $109 million more than the budget request. The funding level is $7 million more than the House bill and $50 million more than the Senate bill.

The Maternal and Child Health Block Grant is funded at $731 million, a $17 million increase over last year. The Child Care and Development Block Grant is funded at $2.1 billion, a $100 million increase over FY2001 but $100 million less than the President’s request. The Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) is funded at $1.7 billion, $25 million less than FY2001 but equal to the President’s request and the House and Senate levels. Up to 10 percent of SSBG funds may be transferred to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.

The final measure includes a Senate-passed provision appropriating $1 million to launch a public awareness campaign to “inform Americans about the existence of spare embryos and options for couples to adopt an embryo or embryos in order to bear children.” The bill also includes another Senate-passed provision appropriating $1 million to commission a U.S. Surgeon General’s report on osteoporosis and related bone diseases.

The bill retains prohibitions on the use of federal funds for needle exchange programs, the creation of human embryos for research purposes, and abortion coverage for women on Medicare or Medicaid, except in cases of rape, incest, or life endangerment.

The conference report does not include a Senate-passed provision that would have required HHS to audit all federal funding for HIV/AIDS prevention programs and to report to Congress concerning programs that offer sexually explicit workshops using federal funds. The language was sponsored by Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL).

The conference report does not include a Senate-passed provision that would have expressed the sense of the Senate that the Department of Health and Human Services should conduct research on post-abortion depression and psychosis. The language was sponsored by Sen. Bob Smith (R-NH).

Department of Labor: Dislocated workers assistance receives a $112 million increase to $1.5 billion, $166 million more than the President’s request, the same amount provided by the Senate, and $14 million more than the House bill.

The Women in Apprenticeships and Nontraditional Occupations Act is level-funded at $1 million, the same amount provided by the House and requested by the President.

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