Senate Appropriations Committee advances Blunt’s FY 2017 appropriations bill for labor, health and human services, and education

The Senate Appropriations Committee approved a fiscal year 2017 labor, health and human services, and education appropriations bill on Thursday that was introduced by U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO).

The bill outlines $161.9 billion in base discretionary spending — $270 million less than appropriated in fiscal year 2016, and $2 billion less than the president’s budget request.

The bill also includes $1.96 billion in cap adjustment funding to prevent waste, fraud, abuse and improper payments through entitlement programs.

“This is the first bipartisan Senate Labor-HHS bill in seven years, and I want to thank Senator Murray for her work on this bill,” Blunt, the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor and Health and Human Services, said. “The fiscal year 2017 Labor-HHS bill eliminates 18 duplicitous or unnecessary federal programs in addition to the 18 from last year’s bill, and is $270 million less than last year.”

The bill would allocate $34 billion to the National Institutes of Health and increase funding for the Precision Medicine initiative by $100 million, bringing the total to $300 million. The bill would also appropriate $1.39 billion for Alzheimer’s disease research.

“First, the bill provides a $2 billion increase for the National Institutes of Health for research efforts that give hope to families battling life-threatening diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s, and to help more Americans live longer, healthier lives,” Blunt said. “Second, we restored year-round Pell Grants to expand eligibility and flexibility for an estimated one million students to receive an additional grant award during an academic year. Third, in response to the rising rates of opioid abuse nationwide, we have increased resources for treatment and prevention programs funded in this bill by 93 percent to help the estimated 1.9 million adults in the U.S. who have an opioid use disorder related to prescription pain relievers, and the 586,000 who have an opioid use disorder related to heroin.”

U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, announced that her bipartisan HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act, which would help patients and families receive care-planning sessions, was included in the appropriations bill.

“Having recently experienced the challenges of caring for parents with Alzheimer’s, I understand the difficulties that caregivers and family members face,” Capito said. “We need to do more to improve the diagnosis of this disease and educate Americans about treatment options. As a member of the Appropriations Committee, I am thrilled that The HOPE for Alzheimer’s Act was included in the Labor-HHS bill that passed out of the subcommittee with bipartisan support.”

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), meanwhile, applauded the committee’s decision to heed his request to nearly double funding for opioid abuse programs.

“Today is an important day in the fight against opioid abuse,” Portman said.
“Senate appropriators have heeded my calls for more funding for opioid abuse programs, which is necessary to help turn the tide of the opioid addiction epidemic. Just as important is ensuring that this funding is spent wisely, and devoted to evidence-based education, treatment and recovery programs that have proven to work at the state and local level.”

Portman said that is what his Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act (CARA) is all about.

“I want to thank Sen. Blunt for his work on this important issue, and I look forward to working with him and all of my colleagues through this process to ensure these programs continue to receive significant funding increases,” Portman said.

U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) also applauded the committee’s support of programs to combat opioid abuse administered through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

“So many people in New Hampshire have told me time and time again that it’s going to take a coordinated, comprehensive response to fight the crisis facing our state and save lives,” Ayotte said. “Today, I’m grateful to the subcommittee for taking another step towards making that response a reality.”

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