Education GRO Highlights: December 2007
FY 2008 Labor-Health & Human Services-Education Appropriations Bill
The House Appropriations Committee passed its Labor-HHS-Education bill on July 11, 2007. The Senate passed its version out of Committee shortly thereafter. The Senate bill's of $ 149.2 billion of discretionary spending represents a $5.4 billion increase over what was enacted in FY 2007 and $9.6 billion more than the President. The House bill included $151.1 billion in discretionary spending — $6.6 billion more than in fiscal 2007, $10.8 billion more than President Bush requested in his budget proposal and $1.9 billion more than the Senate version. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Labor-HHS-Education bill on July 19, 2007 by a vote of 272 - 155. The U.S. Senate passed the bill on October 23, 2007 by a vote of 75-19. The $1.9 billion difference between the House and Senate bills will need to be reconciled in conference.
On November 15, 2007 President Bush vetoed the Labor-Health & Human Services-Education Appropriations bill because of its "excessive level of spending". The House voted on November 15, 2007 to override the veto but failed. On December 19, 2007, after passage by the both the House and the Senate, Congress sent the President the final FY 2008 Omnibus Appropriations bill for his signature. The omnibus bill provides $473.5 billion in discretionary funding for the 11 remaining appropriations bills (the Defense Appropriations bill has already been passed). Democrats had wanted to spend $23 billion more than the $932.8 billion the president requested for the 12 annual spending bills, but they were never able to garner enough GOP support to overcome threats from the president to veto their bills. The omnibus bill provides $473.5 billion in discretionary funding for the 11 unfinished regular fiscal 2008 spending bills, which when combined with the $459.3 billion Defense bill, the FY 2008 Omnibus Appropriations bill meets the president's spending cap. In an effort to bring the bill into line with the president's proposed budget, Democrats imposed a 1.7-percent across-the-board rescission on all domestic programs in the previous bills. However, Democrats moved money around to protect favored programs while adding billions in "emergency spending" for veterans' health care, border security, and other priorities. Specific programs that have received significant cuts in spending as a result of meeting the President's spending cap include the National Institute of Health, Justice Department grants for state and local law enforcement assistance, and clean water state revolving grants.
The Graduate Psychology Education (GPE) Program FY 2008 Funding
Since the FY 2006 cut of $1.6 billion from the Labor-Health & Human Services-Education in which over 50% of the Bureau of Health Professions (BHPr) funding was eliminated ($150 million), it has been very difficult for Congress to restore those funds. Nevertheless, the House and Senate Labor-Health & Human Services-Education bills for FY 2008 contain $228 million for the BHPr Health Professions Programs, an increase of almost 24% primarily for the Diversity Programs. No increase was designated for the GPE Program nor the other individual health professions programs.
Once again the GPE Program had broad, bipartisan support in both the House and Senate but unfortunately there was no "die-hard" champion and the program, received a modest increase of $200,000 (to restore the small across-the-board cuts) for FY 2008 at $2 million. The good news is that funding for the GPE Program was provided for in both the House and Senate Labor-Health & Human Services-Education Subcommittee bills.
Nevertheless, Senator Durbin again sponsored a "Dear Colleague" in the Senate and other Senate support included Senators Harkin (D-IA), Chair of the Labor- Health & Human Services-Education Appropriations Subcommittee, Specter (R-PA), Ranking Member of the Labor- Health & Human Services-Education Appropriations Subcommittee, Domenici (R-NM), Kohl (D-WI) Lautenberg (D-NJ), and Reed (D-RI). In addition a number of other Senators signed onto the Dear Colleague letter, including: Senators Bingaman D-NM), Lieberman (I-CT), Feingold (D-WI), Cardin (D-MD), Wyden (D-OR), Schumer (D-NY), Stabenow (D-MI), Kennedy (D-MA), Bayh (D-IN), Snowe (D-ME), Clinton (D-NY), Brown (D-OH)and Biden (D-DE). In the House, support was expressed by Congresswomen DeLauro A(D-CT), Roybal-Allard (D-CA) and Lowey (D-NY) as well as Congressmen Lewis (R-CA), Walsh (R-NY), Jackson (D-IL), Kennedy (D-RI) and Ryan (D-OH).
We want to express our appreciation to the thousands of APA members who responded to our Action Alerts. In addition, we want to thank the members of the Federal Education Advocacy Coordinators (FEDAC) grassroots network and current and former GPE grantees who reached out to their Members of Congress. And we want to express our gratitude to the many individuals who made a special effort to help us: Alan Kazdin, PhD (APA President Elect), Mardi Allen, PhD, Katie Cherry, PhD, Natalie Duke, PhD, Jerry Grammer, PhD, Paula Hartman-Stein, PhD, Gloria Khan, PhD, Maureen Lacy, PhD, Carl Lejuez, PhD, Marsha Linehan, PhD, Ed Nightingale, PhD, Ned Siegel, PhD, and Jeanne Wurmser, PhD. It is precisely because of all their personal emails, phone calls and hill visits that the GPE Program survived despite an extremely tight budget and a very competitive appropriations process.
A big coup for the GPE Program was a result of a last minute ED GRO advocacy effort. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) successfully offered an amendment to the Senate Military Construction VA Appropriations bill on the Senate Floor on September 5, 2007 to allow the transfer of up to $5 million to HRSA for the GPE Program for a focus on returning military personnel with PTSD, TBI or post-deployment readjustment problems. There was a subsequent meeting with Toni Zeiss, PhD, Deputy Director, VA Mental Health to discuss a Memorandum of Understanding between the two agencies on use of funds. The House also included report language in its Military Construction VA Appropriations bill. Congressmen Sam Farr (D-CA) and Bill Young (R-FL) and Congresswomen Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Nita Lowey (D-NY) all expressed support to the subcommittee chairman. All of these Members of Congress were honored by the Education Directorate over the past few years. APA Members instrumental in securing support include President-Elect Alan Kazdin, PhD, Luli Emmons, PhD, Gloria Khan, PhD, and Herb Goldstein, PhD.
Center for Deployment Psychology (CDP) FY 2008 Funding
The Center for Deployment Psychology continues to have a champion in Congressman Bill Young (R-FL), Ranking Member of the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee. Unfortunately, there was no counterpart to Mr. Young in the Senate. On July 25th the House Appropriations Committee marked up and approved the Department of Defense Appropriations bill, allocating $1 million in FY 2008 funding for the CDP program and in conference the Senate accepted this amount. The program was funded at $3.4 million in FY 2006 and $2.9 in FY 2007. Earmark funding (in terms of the amount of money available) was significantly reduced in the Defense bill. The CDP program, which is not a true earmark because it is a national program, was treated like one because a Member of Congress requested its funding. It is expected that the CDP Program will be incorporated into the new DoD Center of Excellence for treating returning military personnel.
SAMHSA Suicide Prevention Programs FY 08 Funding
The Appropriations Committees in both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate have included funding for the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act (GLSMA) programs, which are housed at SAMHSA. These three programs: State Youth Suicide Prevention; Campus Suicide Prevention and the Technical Assistance Center have made a significant difference in addressing the issue of suicide throughout the nation since being created in 2004. The APA's Education GRO office, in partnership wit key APA members, were instrumental in developing the idea for the Campus Suicide Prevention initiative, which is designed to strengthen and enhance mental and behavioral health services on college campuses.
The Senate provided $30 million FY 2008 funding for the Youth Suicide Prevention grants - an increase of $12.2 million over the FY'07 level. The Campus Suicide Prevention program received $5 million - the same amount as last fiscal year's level. Finally, the Suicide Prevention Technical Assistance and Resource Center received $5 million (i.e., level funding from FY'07). The U.S. House of Representatives included the following amounts for the three GLSMA programs under SAMHSA: State grants: $17.8 million; Campus Suicide Prevention grants: $4.95 million and Technical Assistance and Resource Center: $3.96 million. The FY 2008 omnibus appropriations bill provided the Senate levels of funding for the GLSMA programs under SAMHSA.