In her opening remarks, Appropriations Full Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) emphasized the fact that the COVID-19 crisis has exposed critical shortfalls in public health infrastructure, as well as in mental health care. She also reaffirmed the need for continued investments in biomedical research to improve our resiliency in the face of future health crises. The appropriations bill, as currently drafted, would allot an additional $253.8 billion or (a 28% increase over fiscal year 2020) for programs and initiatives, including those to improve public health infrastructure, increase access to mental healthcare, and facilitate innovative biomedical research.
Below is a summary of the relevant sections of the bill:
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
- The bill increases funding for every center and institute housed within the NIH by no less than 5%. Of particular note:
- The bill appropriates $1.9 billion for the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
- The bill appropriates $2.1 billion for the National Institute of Mental Health.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services (SAMHSA)
- The bill appropriates a total of $3.1 billion to carry out the Protection and Advocacy for Individuals with Mental Illness Act, which gives federally funded protection and advocacy systems (P&As) the authority to investigate abuse or neglect in facilities that provide mental health services.
- The bill appropriates $5.4 billion to support substance abuse treatment and prevention.
- The bill appropriate $243 million for substance abuse prevention programs.
Title IV-A Funding for School Counseling Programs
- The Committee recommends $1,305,000,000 for Student Support and Academic Enrichment (SSAE) State Grants, which is $85,000,000 above the fiscal year 2021 enacted level and the fiscal year 2022 budget request.
Full Committee Ranking Member Kay Granger (R-TX) and Subcommittee Ranking Member Tom Cole (R-OK) made their opening statements following Chairwoman DeLauro. Both members expressed serious concerns about the topline spending levels as well as the removal of the Hyde Amendment, a rider that has been historically included in L-HHS appropriations bills to prohibit spending federal money on abortion services.
Ranking Members Granger and Cole both stated that they would not support a bill that failed to include the Hyde Amendment as a rider. Ensuing debate will likely center on appropriate levels of federal spending and the removal of the Hyde Amendment. However, members from both parties appear to be aligned in their support for substantial investments in public health infrastructure and biomedical research to prepare for the next pandemic. Rep. Cole noted that he supports an even larger investment in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) than proposed in the bill.
The Subcommittee favorably reported the bill to the full committee by voice vote, with no members offering any amendments.