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Budget Update:  House Set to Consider Budget Resolution, Moderates Push for Additional Funding for Health and Education Programs

April 3, 2006

The week of April 3, the House of Representatives is scheduled to debate the FY 2007 Budget Resolution.  The budget resolution that the House will consider does NOT include the $7 billion increase for health and education funding (the Specter-Harkin amendment) endorsed by the Senate on March 16 by a 73-27 vote; more information is available on the NAMI Web site.

Fortunately, a group of House Republican moderates -- led by Representative Mike Castle (R-DE) is working to restore this $7 billion in additional funding authority for health research and services, as well as education programs before the budget resolution reaches the full House later this week.  Two dozen House Republicans recently signed a letter to House leaders urging restoration of cuts to health and education programs. 

Action Needed

Advocates are strongly encouraged to contact their House member and urge them to join Representative Mike Castle's effort to restore the $7 billion in cuts to health research and services that were enacted in FY 2006, and proposed by the Presdient for FY 2007.  The message is simple -- unless the House leadership agrees to restore funding as requested by Representative Castle and his colleagues.  Remind members of Congress that unless funding is restored, resources for health research and services (including mental illness research at NIMH and services at SAMHSA) will be below what they were in 2005.  All House offices can be reached through the Capital Switchboard at 202-224-3121.

Background

The FY 2007 Budget Resolution sets overall budget ceilings for consideration of spending bills that Congress will act on later this year.  The resolution limits the overall discretionary funding they can be allocated to priorities such as research, services, housing, veterans programs, etc.  The Senate adopted its proposed budget on March 16 and included the additional $7 billion in funding authority as part of the Specter-Harkin Amendment.  By contrast, the House Budget Committee rejected the Specter-Harkin amendment on a party-line vote when it was offered by Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), on March 29.

For mandatory spending -- i.e., entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid -- the budget resolution provides instructions to individual committees in the House and Senate to pass legislation enacting changes designed to reach specific spending targets.  Both the House and Senate budget resolutions do NOT include instructions to the committees with jurisdiction over Medicare and Medicaid (Senate Finance, House Energy and Commerce, House Ways and Means) to move forward on additional cuts to the programs.  This means that proposals in the President's budget FY 2007 budget for more than $35 billion in cuts to Medicare and $9 billion in cuts to Medicaid appear to be dead for the remainder of the year.

NAMI Testimony on the FY 2007 Budget

On March 31, 2006, NAMI Board Presdient Suzanne Vogel-Scibilia submitted testimony to the House Appropriations Committee on the budget requests for the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).  Click here to view her testimony.


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