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Senate Passes Specter-Harkin Amendment, Adds $7 Billion for Discretionary Programs Including Mental Illness Research and Services

March 17, 2005

By a 73-27 vote, the Senate yesterday added $7 billion in spending authority to a broad range of health and human service programs as part of the FY 2007 budget resolution.  This would allow additional funding authority for FY 2007 spending legislation covering mental illness research and services that will be taken up by Congress this coming summer.  The amendment is part of the budget resolution that sets forth parameters for all federal spending for the fiscal year that will begin on October 1, 2006.  The Senate later cleared the budget resolution by a narrow 51-49 margin.

Passage of the bipartisan Specter-Harkin Amendment is a big victory for advocates of mental illness research and services.  It will allow for the FY 2007 appropriations bills that fund the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to reject cuts proposed in the President's budget and restore funding to FY 2005 levels.  Click here to view how your Senators voted on the amendment. 

In addition, the Senate voted 43-57 to reject an effort to require an additional $10 billion in cuts to the Medicare and Medicaid programs for FY 2007.  This amendment was offered by Senator John Cornyn (R-TX).  The underlying budget resolution also rejected proposals in the President's budget for future reductions to Medicare and Medicaid through cuts in payments to hospitals and further reductions to targeted case management services under Medicaid.

This victory must now be followed up in the House, which has yet to take up the FY 2007 budget resolution.  Advocates are urged to contact their House member and encourage support for the additional funding authorized by the Specter-Harkin Amendment.  House members will be in their districts next week as part of a week-long recess.  All House offices can be reached by calling 202-224-3121 or through www.house.gov.


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