House Panel Advances HHS Spending Bill

The House Appropriations Committee on Thursday approved the fiscal 2017 spending to fund the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education.

The bill passed after a markup that lasted more than a day, and more than 30 amendments were considered. Several amendments offered by Democrats sought to, among other things, restore funding to the Affordable Care Act and to allow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct research on gun violence failed.

The bill isn’t likely to go far. It would pass the House should it come up for a vote, but provisions that would defund the Affordable Care Act and Title X family planning programs on their own would stop Senate Democrats from supporting the measure. Congress is likely to pass a continuing resolution before the end of the current fiscal year.

Still, the House draft sheds light on Republican priorities. The bill would provide $33.3 billion to the National Institutes of Health, a $1.25 billion increase over current levels, including $350 million more for Alzheimer’s research. It also proposes more than $600 million for opioid abuse treatment and prevention.

“This bill achieves its goal of reducing discretionary spending by more than half a billion dollars, all the while prioritizing where funding is needed the most,” Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.), the chair of the subcommittee that drafted the bill, said in a statement. “Several important programs through the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health that benefit many Americans receive a substantial increase in funding, often well beyond the amount the President requested in his budget.”