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  • Washington Highlights

    Senate Appropriations Committee Postpones Labor-HHS Markup, Approves FY 2020 Allocations

    Christa Wagner, Manager, Government Relations

    The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) Sept. 10 postponed the scheduled markup of its fiscal year (FY) 2020 spending bill. The full Appropriations Committee Sept. 12 approved 302(b) allocations for all 12 appropriations subcommittees for fiscal year (FY) 2020 by a party line vote of 16-15.

    The Senate-approved spending level for the for the FY 2020 Labor-HHS spending bill, which funds the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Health Resources and Services Administration, and other health programs, includes $178.3 billion in budget authority which reflects a $200 million (0.1%) increase over comparable FY 2019 levels. The Senate-approved levels include an additional $9.4 billion from Changes in Mandatory Programs (CHIMPs) for a total of $187.7 billion for FY 2020, a $2.2 billion (1%) increase over comparable FY 2019 levels. The House Appropriations Committee May 8 passed its FY 2020 302(b) allocations, including a total of $202.2 billion with CHIMPs, a $16.7 billion (9.0 %) increase over comparable FY 2019 levels [see Washington Highlights, May 10].

    The committee Sept. 12 also approved the Department of Defense and Energy and Water FY 2020 spending bills. The Labor-HHS subcommittee postponed the originally scheduled Sept. 10 markup of the FY 2020 Labor-HHS spending bill preventing its inclusion in the Sept. 12 full committee meeting. Press reports Sept. 9 indicated a $3 billion increase for the NIH over FY 2019 levels in the Senate bill, though no materials have officially been released by the Senate Appropriations Committee to confirm this funding level.

    Committee Chair Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) shared during the Sept. 12 business meeting that disagreements about an amendment to address family planning funds provided by the Title X program contributed to the postponement. Sen. Shelby stated, “Unfortunately, the threat of poison pill amendments delayed [the bill’s] consideration because they would have prevented Senate passage and drawn the President’s veto … Such poison pills are expressly prohibited by the terms of the budget deal,” formally the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2019 (P.L. 116-37), which Congress passed Aug. 1 [see Washington Highlights, Aug. 2]. No new date has been established for the Labor-HHS subcommittee markup.

    Congress needs to come to an agreement on spending bills by Sept. 30 or agree on a continuing resolution to keep agencies funded into the start of the new fiscal year on Oct. 1. The House of Representatives has passed 10 of its 12 FY 2020 spending bills.