Appropriations Season Continues, But Omnibus Likely as Process Slows
Appropriations season continued this week in Washington when the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, HHS approved its FY2017 funding measure. Overall, the bill allocates $161.6 billion for next year, representing a decrease of $569 million compared to FY2016. The introduction of this funding measure, however, does not signal additional promise that Congress will finalize the government’s budget through regular order. According to reports on Capitol Hill, an omnibus spending bill – combining all of the appropriations bills together – is likely for 2017.
Specific lines items are not yet available but the bill did highlight some important topline funding increases for the Department of Health and Human Services, the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Items of particular importance to National Council members include:
- Opioid and Heroin Epidemic: $581 million to address opioid and heroin abuse, including $500 million for a first-ever comprehensive state grant program that will address the opioid epidemic nationwide. Also, in the funding bill is an additional $90 million through the CDC to expand efforts for prescription drug abuse prevention and treatment services.
- Substance Abuse Block Grant: $1.8 billion, level funding to FY2016.
- Criminal justice related activities: $78 million, level funding to FY2016. This includes $60 million for drug courts.
The National Council will share more specific line items as they become available.
OMNIBUS BILL LIKELY
Despite the progress the House made in introducing all 12 funding measures, an omnibus spending package is still the most likely outcome for FY2017. Congress will depart for a 6-week summer recess at the end of next week, leaving the congressional calendar too short to complete comprehensive appropriation action. It is largely expected that the chambers will compromise on a yearlong continuing resolution (CR), maintaining level funding for the first year of the next presidential administration.