Today the President signed a spending bill that will keep open the agencies that comprise the federal government through September 30th. This averts the possibility of a government shutdown until the fall. House and Senate appropriators were able to reach an agreement on spending levels for the agencies, departments, and programs that fund drug and alcohol treatment programs, school counseling, , and everything else the federal government funds and oversees. This does not always happen; some years the best Congress can agree to do is to fund everything at the same level as the previous year, regardless of priorities or recent events.
This bill funds the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration at $3.6 billion – slightly more than the 2017 budget request. Within this funding, the bill provides an increase of $150 million over last year for programs that address the prevention and treatment of opioid and heroin use. Combined with $500 million in funding authorized by the 21st Century Cures Act, the agreement supports a total increase of $650 million in fiscal year 2017 for initiatives aimed at addressing the nation’s opioid addiction crisis.
The agreement also increases funding for the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant to $1.8 billion. The agreement increases funding for the Mental Health Block Grant by $30 million, for a total of $563 million. There is also $15 million for mental health first aid.
The bill contains $400 million for a new program, Student Support and Academic Achievement State Grants, which can be used for a variety of purposes including school counseling.
Funding for veterans programs for 2017 was approved separately last fall.
For a summary of the sections that fund the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Education, click here