Congress approves federal spending bill for remainder of Fiscal Year 2017

How did psychology’s priorities fare?

The omnibus spending bill for Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 has been approved by both houses of Congress, and has been signed by the President of the United States. Its passage is a boost for several programs that are priorities for the American Psychological Association, though not all programs received increases. APA’s Science, Education and Public Interest Government Relations Offices work diligently to secure funding for programs that are important for APA’s scientists, students, educators, clinicians, patients and seek to improve the public health. 

Republican and Democrat appropriators were able to agree on funding levels that advanced some of the President’s priorities as well as those in both parties. For example, the bill includes a $15 billion boost in supplemental defense spending, about half the amount the Administration requested. The funding is designated as Overseas Contingency Operations spending, which does not count against statutory budget limits. 

National Institutes of Health (NIH) & Center for Disease Control (CDC) - Research funding agencies fared relatively well in the bill. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) was a big winner, gaining a $2 billion, or 6 percent increase, for a total of $34.1 billion. Funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) National Center for Injury Prevention and Control will increase by more than $52 million, due in large part to new funds allocated to combat the opioid epidemic. Other key priorities for APA within the Injury Center include the National Violent Death Reporting System, which was level-funded at $16 million, and the Rape Prevention and Education Program, which received $44 million. CDC’s Office on Smoking and Health will be funded at $205 million for FY17:  that is only a $5 million cut from FY16 and great news considering the House initially proposed funding of only $100 million.

National Science Foundation (NSF) - The bill funds NSF at $7.472 billion, a slight increase of $8.7 million over the FY2016 enacted amount ($7.46 billion). It includes $6.033 billion for Research and Related Activities, which is the same level of funding the directorates received in FY2016.

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) - The AHRQ will receive $324 million, a $10 million decrease in its current funding levels. The agency that conducts health services research has been the target of elimination by congressional Republicans in years past: the Administration’s 2018 budget proposal would have NIH absorbing the functions of AHRQ.

Graduate Psychology Education Program (GPE) - Despite an overall cut to health professions training programs, Congress maintained current funding levels for the Graduate Psychology Education Program (GPE) in the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) at $8.9 million and the Behavioral Health Workforce Education and Training Program at $50 million.

Department of Education - Overall, the FY 2017 spending bill reduces investments in education by $60 million.  The bill cuts funding for the Graduate Assistance in Areas of National Need (GAANN) program by $1 million, level funds the Teacher Quality Partnership program at $43 million, and maintains the maximum Pell grant of $5,920 for the 2017-18 school year.  The legislation provides $12 million for the Javits Gifted and Talented Students program, as well as $400 million for the newly authorized Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants, which focus on well-rounded educational opportunities, safe and healthy students and effective use of technology. The Institute for Education Sciences receives $605.3 million, a 2.1 percent decrease. 

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) - SAMHSA was funded at $3.6 billion, $130.5 million above last year’s funding level. However, the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant is flat funded at $1.8 billion and the legislation includes a $30 million increase for the Mental Health Block Grant, for a total of $563 million. Given that racial and ethnic groups represent 30% of the U.S. population and are projected to increase to 40% by 2025, yet only 23% of recent doctorates in psychology, social work and nursing were awarded to ethnic members of such populations, APA has championed the Minority Fellowship Program, level funded at $11.7 million. Within the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the Garrett Lee Smith Suicide Prevention Programs all maintained current funding: $35.4 million for the State/Tribal program; $7 million for the Campus program; and $6 million for the Suicide Prevention Resource Center.

Children and Youth - The omnibus package contained both cuts and increases for programs related to children, youth, and families. For example, the legislation funds the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) at $247 million (an 8.5 percent cut), the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) at $78.48 billion (a 3 percent cut), Maternal and Child Health at $863.6 million (a 2 percent increase), the Child Care and Development Block Grant at $2.9 billion (a 1 percent increase), and the National Child Traumatic Stress Network at $48.9 million (a 1 percent increase), but leaves most programs level funded.

Department of Justice - Also included in the bill is a new Justice Department initiative that will provide $2.5 million to a national training program to improve police responses to individuals with mental illness or developmental disabilities. The Public Interest Government Relations Office has advocated strongly for this provision since the Obama Justice Department requested the funds in February, 2016.

For more information, here is the statement from the House Appropriations majority that includes summaries of the FY 2017 omnibus, and here is the summary from the House minority party appropriators.

APA’s Science, Education and Public Interest Government Relations Offices will continue to work diligently to secure funding for programs that are important to psychology.  The government is funded now through September 30, 2017, but for the rest of the year we are focused on funding requests for FY 2018. 

For information about the initial presidential budget request, see this APA Science Advocacy Blog and the Action Alert from the APA Science, Education and Public Interest Government Relations Offices. We anticipate a more detailed Presidential Budget Proposal later this month proposing severe cuts to many critical programs, and are already working with Congress to protect them in the coming fiscal year. Your advocacy can make a difference. It’s not too late to respond to the Action Alert and write to your member of Congress about the FY 2018 budget request!