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Monthly Briefing

Monthly Briefing

November 2014 Monthly Briefing

The Bottom Line

  • GOP Controls House and Senate; Committee Leadership Appointments Pending
  •  Final FY 2015 Appropriations Action Leads Lame Duck Session Agenda
  •  ASPPH Submits Testimony on Ebola Emergency Funding

What's New

2014 Mid-Term Election Analysis Continues

The results of the November 4 mid-term elections are in and the GOP has taken control of the Senate and strengthened its hand in the House. The Republicans appears to have captured at least 52 seats in the Senate and increased their margin by about 13 in the House (with close to a dozen races still not called due to recounts). It will be sometime before the majority’s legislative agenda becomes clear. ASPPH’s advocacy partner, Cornerstone Government Affairs, has written a lengthy and thoughtful analysis of the elections that has been distributed to all ASPPH member primary contacts.

Given the change in majority party in the Senate and various retirements, the line-up of key committee and subcommittee chairs will change significantly. The current speculation, subject to change when the party caucuses meet, is:

Senate Appropriations Committee

Senate Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee

Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee

House Appropriations Committee

House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee

House Energy and Commerce Committee

ASPPH has ordered Congressional Directories for the 114th Congress that will be distributed to all primary contacts once committee and subcommittee appointments, run-offs and recounts are complete, likely in late January.

FY 2015 Appropriations (In)Action

Despite early hopes that the majority of the twelve fiscal year (FY) 2015 appropriations bills would reach the House and Senate floors before the summer recess, that did not take place. The full House passed five of the twelve spending bills, but the full Senate has passed none.

With the October 1 start of the fiscal year and mid-term elections looming, Congress on September 18 cleared a Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government through December 11. The CR is funding the government at the current annual rate of $1.012 trillion, with no new policy riders or changes to existing statutes. However, the bill contained about a dozen “anomalies” – funding changes within the total level of funding in the legislation. To fund those changes, the bill included an across-the-board cut of 0.0554 percent. Among the “anomalies”:

Congress will consider ways to complete action on the fiscal year 2015 spending bills during a “lame duck” session that begins on November 12. There are four likely scenarios for the appropriations “end game” this session:

Immediately after the election, the GOP leadership indicated it preferred completing action on the legislation during the lame duck session.

Subcommittee Action: The only Congressional action on the fiscal year 2015 Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Bill, which funds programs of priority interest to ASPPH members, cleared the Senate Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee on June 10, but has not been considered by the full Senate Appropriations Committee or by any House panel. The subcommittee’s bill provided $30.459 billion for NIH, an increase of $605.7 million, or 2 percent, over the FY 2014 level. The bill also provided $7.054 billion in “program level” funding for the CDC, a 2.5 percent increase or $170.9 million over the comparable FY 2014 level. For the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), the subcommittee provided $373.3 million, $2.3 million more than the FY 2014 funding level. For the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), the subcommittee provides $6.3 billion, an increase of 0.4 percent over the FY 2014 level. After a delay, the draft bill and report text were released on July 23. It showed that all of ASPPH’s specific legislative priorities are funded at their existing (FY 2014) levels.

ASPPH Legislative Priorities: The ASPPH’s legislative priorities include enhanced support for the HRSA Public Health Training Centers program (from $13.1M in FY 2014 to $23.0M in FY 2015) and the HRSA Public Health Traineeships program (from $2.5M in FY 2014 to $5.0M in FY 2015). The Association is advocating for stable funding for the NIOSH Education and Research Centers and Agricultural, Forestry and Fishing Centers programs and the CDC Centers for Public Health Preparedness Centers program. Lastly, ASPPH is urging enhanced funding for the CDC Prevention Research Centers Program (from $25.0M in FY 2014 to $35.0M in FY 2015). ASPPH also is asking the Appropriations panels to allocate $5M from NIH funds for implementation of the new NIH Strategic Plan for Prevention Research. ASPPH also has endorsed the recommendation of the Ad Hoc Group for Medical Research Funding, which is calling for a $32 billion appropriation for the NIH in FY 2015. A chart detailing ASPPH’s legislative priorities is attached.

Ebola Supplemental Appropriations Request

The Obama administration on November 5 asked Congress for nearly $6.2 billion in emergency funding to fight the Ebola outbreak. The Administration asked for $2.4 billion for the Department of Health and Human Services. About $1.83 billion would go to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, $2.1 billion for the U.S. Agency for International Development and other State Department humanitarian assistance; $238 million to the NIH for clinical trials, $157 million for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Agency to manufacture vaccines for clinical trials; and $112 million for the Pentagon. DOD earlier asked for authority to reprogram $1 billion in previous appropriations for its Ebola efforts. Congress has approved $750 million of the requested reprogramming authority. The Administration’s request asks $4.6 billion be designated as immediately available emergency spending and the other $1.5 billion in emergency funding be placed in a contingency fund “to ensure that there are resources available to meet unforeseen changes in the epidemic,” according to Office of Management and Budget Director Shaun Donovan. That fund would be split about equally between HHS and USAID. If Congress agrees to classify the funding as “emergency spending,” it will not require funding offsets under the provisions of the Budget Control Act.

ASPPH Testimony: On November 12 the Senate Appropriations Committee will hold a hearing on the President’s Ebola funding request and the government’s Ebola response generally. On November 7, ASPPH submitted testimony to the panel, endorsing the Administration’s funding request and identifying possible initiatives that the faculty at our schools and programs could undertake to help federal agencies, the World Health Organization, and affected countries and communities to address the Ebola crisis. The testimony also highlighted on-going activities by ASPPH members to address the Ebola crisis, both domestically and in several African countries.

ASPPH Priorities with Committee Recommendations (292 KB)

Previous Month's Briefings

September 2014 Monthly Briefing

Congressional consideration of the 12 fiscal year 2015 appropriations bills has ground to a halt. With the October 1 start of the new fiscal year approaching, not a single funding bill has cleared the Congress. A Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government past the November 4 general election is expected, but even passing that is proving difficult.

Read more

August 2014 Monthly Briefing

Congress left for its five-week summer recess on August 1st without having cleared any of the 12 fiscal year 2015 appropriations bills. A continuing resolution to fund the government is almost certain.

Read more

June 2014 Monthly Briefing

Due to election year concerns, it is unlikely the House or Senate will consider their FY 2015 Appropriations bills before the November Midterm Elections. Though the Senate Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee marked-up their version on June 10, the details have yet to be released.

Read more
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