Post Election "Lame-Duck" Session Begins; Action on FY 2007 Spending Bills for Mental Illness Research and Services, Housing and Veterans’ Programs Expected
November 14, 2006
Even though the 2006 elections are now over, the 2006 congressional session is not and House and Senate members returned to Washington this week to complete unfinished business for this year, including current fiscal year funding bills covering a broad range of domestic programs including mental illness research and services, housing and veterans’ programs.
At stake is funding for current fiscal year priorities at a range of agencies including NIMH, SAMHSA, the VA and HUD. This includes efforts to restore cuts originally put forward by the President, and in some cases, to maintain increases endorsed by the Senate. Critical to this effort is restoring the overall $5.5 billion difference in overall spending authority between the Senate and the House. If the Bush Administration and congressional leaders can agree on the higher overall spending level recommended by the Senate, then a range of critical priorities for FY 2007 can be met including:
- NIMH Research – Allowing restoration of the $8.5 million reduction recommended by the President and endorsed by the House. NAMI strongly supports the higher level for FY 2007 NIMH research funding recommended by the Senate for FY 2007 -- $1.404 billion.
- Suicide Prevention Funding – Allowing for a $8.7 million increase for youth suicide prevention funding under the Garrett Lee Smith Act at SAMHSA, boosting overall funding for youth suicide prevention to $40 million for FY 2007.
- Homeless Assistance Funding – Allowing Congress to fully fund both:
- a $10.56 million increase for an initiative at SAMHSA to finance services in permanent supportive housing as recommended by the Senate, and
- a $209 million increase for the HUD McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance – boosting funds to $1.511 billion for FY 2007 as recommended by the President and the House.
On a related affordable housing priorities, NAMI also supports restoration of funding for the HUD Section 811 program (up to $240 million), as well as important changes to fix the HUD Section 8 funding formula and stem the tide of cuts to the rental voucher program. Additional details on HUD Section 8 funding are available at:
Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Housing Task Force letter to members of Congress (PDF, opens in a new window)
Read the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities "Fixing the Housing Voucher Formula: A No-Cost Way to Strengthen the "Section 8" Program"
NAMI therefore urges advocates to contact their members of Congress and encourage their support for restoring the $5.5 billion in spending authority recommended by the Senate for FY 2007. NAMI is especially grateful to Senators Arlen Specter (R-PA), Tom Harkin (D-IA) and the Representative Mike castle (R-DE) that have led efforts in the Senate and House to achieve this important goal. Click here to send a letter to your Representative today!
Beyond these priorities, most of the other key NAMI priorities in the remaining FY 2007 spending bills are resolved, i.e. the spending levels in both the House and Senate bills are identical, and are unlikely to be changed in the current lame-duck session. It is expected that Congress will act later this week to extend all government programs at current levels through at least December 8, buying additional time to come to agreement on the FY 2007 spending bills.
Additional information on the remaining FY 2007 spending bills is available at:
NAMI's October 3rd, 2006 E-News on Fiscal Year 2007 funding.
NAMI's July 25th, 2006 E-News on funding for mental illness research, housing and veterans programs.
Terry Cline of Oklahoma Nominated as SAMHSA Administrator
On November 9, President announced the nomination of Dr. Terry Cline of Oklahoma as the new Administrator of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Dr. Cline currently serves as the Oklahoma Secretary of Health and Commissioner of the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. If confirmed by the Senate, he will replace Charles Curie who resigned this past summer.
Read the White House press release.