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Post-Election "Lame Duck" Session Convenes Next Week, Action Expected on FY 2005 Funding Bills for Mental Illness Research and Services

November 8, 2004

With the 2004 elections now behind them, Congress will return to Washington the week of November 15 for a "lame duck" session to complete action on spending legislation for the current fiscal year. Among the bills that Congress will be taking up are spending measures regarding mental illness research and services, housing and veterans programs. Congress hopes to complete these measures quickly given that FY 2005 began back on October 1 and agencies are still operating under an extension of last year’s budget.

Action Required

Two separate spending bills – the Labor-HHS-Education bill (HR 5006/S 2810) and the VA-HUD bill (HR 5041/S 2825) contain a number of critical NAMI priorities for FY 2005 that must be resolved. NAMI urges advocates to contact their Senators and House member to urge them to:

  • Support FY 2005 funding for suicide prevention activities authorized under the recently enacted Garrett Lee Smith Act (P.L. 108-355). NAMI also strongly encourages all Senators to sign on to a letter being circulated by Senator Gordon Smith of Oregon in support of funding these new federal suicide prevention activities,
  • Support the higher funding level for NIMH in the Senate Labor-HHS bill, $16 million above the President’s request and the House level (up to $1.437 billion),
  • Support President Bush’s $44 million request for "Mental Health Transformation" state planning grants to further implementation of the White House Mental Health Commission report,
  • Oppose cuts to the HUD Section 8 program and reject the Bush Administration "Flexible Voucher" proposal to block grant Section 8, impose time limits on rental assistance and repeal targeting of rental assistance to individuals and families with extremely low incomes – advocates are particularly urged to express support for the higher funding levels for Section 8 and Section 811 in the Senate VA-HUD bill,
  • Support the $10 million allocation in the Senate Labor-HHS bill at SAMHSA for services in permanent supportive housing targeted individuals and families that have experienced chronic homelessness, and
  • Support FY 2005 funding for jail diversion, law enforcement and corrections training authorized under the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act of 2004 (S 1194) that was signed into law by President Bush on October 30.

Enter your zipcode below to access a sample letter on this issue and a list of your representatives to contact now. If you do not see the box for entering your zip code, click here.

Additional background information on the FY 2005 Labor-HHS and VA-HUD Appropriations bills is available via the following links:

2005 Budgets for NIMH & SAMHSA

Spending Bill for Veterans and Housing Programs

Child-Adolescent Suicide Prevention Bill

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