As a member of the Labor-H Subcommittee, Reed helps boost funding for medical research, childcare, college affordability, opioid abuse prevention, & Childhood Cancer STAR Act

WASHINGTON, DC – In an effort to make critical investments in working families, public health, and education, the Senate Appropriations Committee has approved the FY2019 Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-H) Appropriations Bill.

U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI), who helped craft the bill as a member of the Labor-H Subcommittee, was among those on the full committee who voted 30-1 in favor of the bill, which would boost funding to strengthen our workforce, increase medical research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), provide an increase to the maximum Pell grants and continue investments in other critical education programs, and target new funds towards improving opioid treatment and prevention efforts.

Overall, the bill would provide $179.3 billion in base discretionary funding for the U.S. Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and related agencies.

Senator Reed backed several key measures in the bill that would directly benefit Rhode Island, including funding for education-related programs and initiatives such as Title I, the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and Head Start.  And in an effort to make college more affordable and accessible for Rhode Islanders, Reed also supported $22.5 billion in discretionary spending for Pell Grants in fiscal year 2019, and a $100 increase in the maximum Pell award.

The bill also includes increased funding for medical research which, in addition to leading to cures, will benefit the Rhode Island’s hospitals and universities, provide resources to address health issues faced by the elderly community such as Alzheimer’s disease, increase resources to combat the opioid threat in the state, and new funding to implement Reed’s newly enacted law, the Childhood Cancer Survivorship, Treatment, Access, and Research (STAR) Act.  Specifically, the bill includes a $2 billion increase for NIH medical research, bringing NIH’s annual funding to over $39 billion, and includes a $425 million increase for Alzheimer’s research and a $29 million increase for the BRAIN Initiative, as well as $37 million for research to combat antimicrobial resistance.  This year’s bill also includes $3.7 billion to fight opioid abuse, including $1.5 billion for State Opioid Response Grants.  The bill will also allow NIH to implement the STAR Act by funding childhood, adolescent, and young adult cancer survivorship research, in addition to biospecimen research in these populations to help lead to breakthroughs in the least-studied childhood cancers.

Senator Reed also successfully worked on a bipartisan basis to secure $242 million for the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS), a $2 million increase.  IMLS supports programs for museums and libraries that encourage innovation, provide life-long learning opportunities, promote cultural and civic engagement, and improve access to a variety of services and information.

Reed, a cosponsor of the Maternal Health Accountability Act of 2017 (S. 1112) which would help reduce maternal mortality rates, also helped include a new $50 million initiative to address the rising rates of maternal mortality.

“This appropriations bill funds national initiatives and priorities that are critical to our communities – from strengthening our public schools and libraries to advancing medical research to fighting the growing opioid threat – while at the same time bolstering economic growth,” said Senator Reed.  “This bill is an important step forward, given the tight budgetary constraints, and I will continue working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to make crucial investments that benefit the health and well-being of the American people, encourage the best education possible for our children, and strengthen the middle class.”

Other highlights of the bill include:

  • $22.5 billion in discretionary spending for Pell Grants in fiscal year 2019, and an increase in the maximum award by $100, when combined with mandatory Pell funding will lead to a new level of $6,195.  And $350 million to continue the discretionary relief fund for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) created in the fiscal year 2018 Omnibus.  This initiative corrects a flaw in the mandatory Public Service Loan Forgiveness program that has caused teachers and other public servants to be ineligible for forgiveness even though they were the intended beneficiaries of PSLF.  The President’s budget would eliminate PSLF.
  • $15.885 billion for Title I-A grants to local educational agencies (LEAs), $125 million more than last year.  These funds help schools — particularly those with concentrations of economically disadvantaged students — meet high academic achievement standards. Last year, Rhode Island schools received an estimated $52.3 million in Title I funding, serving 36 school districts.  The bill also includes $10 million for Statewide Family Engagement Centers, which Senator Reed backed to help schools across the nation effectively engage families and communities.
  • $12.4 billion in funding for programs related to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).  The IDEA is a law that makes available a free appropriate public education to eligible children with disabilities throughout the nation and ensures special education and related services to those children.  In FY2018 Rhode Island will have received an estimated $49 million in IDEA funding, supporting nearly 20,000 students in Rhode Island’s public schools.
  • $10.1 billion for Head Start, a $250 million increase over last year.  Rhode Island annually receives nearly $28 million to serve nearly 2,000 children in Head Start preschool programs and over 650 infants and pregnant mothers in Early Head Start programs.
  • $7.9 billion for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) core health programs.  The committee rejects the Trump Administration proposal to cut CDC by $2.4 billion, or 30 percent, and the proposed cuts to immunization and chronic disease prevention programs.  This includes $35 million for the Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, $610 million for the Section 317 immunization program, as well as new funding for childhood cancer registries to better track rates of childhood cancer.
  • $5.7 billion for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which is $579 million more than the fiscal year 2018 level.  This includes $1.5 billion, an increase of $500 million, for State Opioid Response Grants.  The bill also provides an increase of $50 million for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics and $25 million for the Mental Health Block Grant.  Rhode Island receives nearly $23 million from SAMHSA for a number of programs to prevent and treat mental health and substance abuse issues, including the opioid crisis.
  • $5.63 billion for Community Health Centers to provide comprehensive, quality health care services to medically underserved communities and vulnerable populations.
  • $5.23 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), maintaining the record increase from Fiscal Year 2018, for grants to states to support child care for low-income families, and to improve the quality of child care programs.
  • $3.69 billion for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), a $50 million increase.  Last year, the state received nearly $25 million in federal LIHEAP funding to help low-income Rhode Islanders with their energy bills.
  • $3.4 billion, for mental health treatment, prevention, and research, a $195 million increase.
  • $1.7 billion for Job Corps to help young Americans receive education, job training, and employment assistance.  The bill also $160 million for training programs utilizing the flexible and effective apprenticeship model.
  • $1.3 billion for the Office of Refugee Resettlement’s Unaccompanied Children (UAC) program, $55 million more than the President’s budget request.  The Administration’s “zero tolerance” policy resulted in the separation of family units at the border and significantly increased the number of children referred to the UAC program.  The report language that accompanies the bill directs HHS to provide updated cost estimates for the program, and additional information on the children in their care and its process for monitoring UAC shelters in order to ensure every child is appropriately cared for.  The bill also provides $207 million for Refugee Social Services, rejecting the President’s request to cut those programs by $46 million, or 22 percent.  The bill provides an increase of $3 million to the Victims of Trafficking program.
  • $1.225 billion for the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grant program, an increase of $125 million more than last year.  This formula grant program provides flexible funding to school districts for use on school safety efforts, including hiring school counselors; supporting a well-rounded education; and investing in education technology.  For the second year in a row, the President’s budget eliminates the program.
  • $1.4 billion for Impact Aid, which provides flexible support to local school districts impacted by the presence of federally-owned land and activities, such as military bases.  The new funding is an $25 million increase over FY2018.
  • Over $1 billion for the Corporation for National and Community Service, and rejects the Administration’s proposal to eliminate the agency.  Last year, Rhode Island received $6.2 million from the Corporation to support service projects addressing critical community needs.
  • $840 million for the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant program to help low-income and first generation college students plan, prepare for, and succeed in college.
  • $642 million for adult education state grant programs, which assist adults in strengthening literacy, raising educational attainment, and improving workplace skills.  This represents a $25 million increase from last year and a $60 million increase from FY2017.  And $43 million for Teacher Quality Partnership Grants to improve educator preparation and address the teaching workforce in high-need school districts and over $2 billion in state grants to support educator and principal professional development.
  • $325 million for Children’s Hospitals Graduate Medical Education (CHGME), $10 million more than FY2018.  This funding supports freestanding children’s hospitals’ training of resident physicians, research capabilities, and care for vulnerable and underserved children.
  • $284 million for the Veterans Employment and Training (VETS) program to expand employment services to transitioning servicemembers, veterans with disabilities, and their spouses and caregivers.
  • $190 million for the Comprehensive Literacy State Development Grants and $27 million for the Innovative Approaches to Literacy Program to ensure that students have access to quality literacy programs, including effective school library programs, at all ages.
  • $89.5 million for YouthBuild, which helps young people earn a high school diploma or General Education Development (GED) diploma while learning valuable occupational, leadership,  and life-management skills.
  • $95 million for School Safety National Activities, an increase of $5 million over last year that rejects the President’s request to include just $43 million for these activities.  These funds may be used to improve school climates and behavioral outcomes for students, support school responses to the opioid epidemic, and help education institutions prepare for and respond to violent and other traumatic events.

Now that the bill has been approved by the Appropriations Committee, it must be voted on by the full U.S. Senate before it can be reconciled with a version making its way through the U.S. House of Representatives.