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Legislative Update: Omnibus Budget Package Introduced

January 14, 2014

Late in the evening on January 13, House Appropriations Committee Chair Hal Rogers (R-KY), with support from Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), introduced a $1.012 trillion omnibus package (H.R. 3547) to fund the government through the remainder of FY 2014. The bill includes all 12 appropriations subcommittee spending bills and complies with the budgetary caps outlined in the Ryan-Murray Bipartisan Budget Act, which was passed in mid-December. The bill avoided many major policy debates and provides fresh spending directives for agencies for the first time in years.

While the current government funding mechanism expires tomorrow, Jan. 15, due to House rules and greater procedural hurdles in the Senate the omnibus package will likely take until Jan. 18 to clear both chambers. Because of this, the House passed today a three-day continuing resolution to afford the two chambers a few extra days to move the omnibus package forward. Although it is expected that certain constituencies and outside groups will oppose H.R. 3547, the deal is likely to pass both chambers as members seek to restore a sense of normalcy to the appropriations process.

In the agreement, the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies appropriations bill was approved and funded at $156.8 billion. This figure is higher than the FY 2013 post-sequester number of $149.6 billion and closer to the Senate's FY 2014 mark of $164.3 billion. A noteworthy development in the Labor-HHS bill is that the Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF) was appropriated through Congressional action for the first time since it was created as part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In past years, the fund had not been allocated by Congress, which allowed the administration transfer authority from one agency to another--something that occurred last year to support ACA implementation at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The $1 billion PPHF primarily supports prevention programming at CDC, including many of ASTHO's priorities.

Additionally, the spending package includes a program level of $6.9 billion for CDC, $567 million above the FY 2013 program level. Some of the priority public health program funding levels include:
• $160 million for the Preventive Health and Health Services Block Grant.
• $640 million for the Public Health Emergency Preparedness program.
• $588 million for the Section 317 immunization program.
• $34.7 million for CDC food safety programs.
• $35 million for the Environmental Public Health Tracking program.
• $30 million to support the Advanced Molecular Detection initiative to enhance CDC's ability to find and stop deadly infectious disease outbreaks.

ASTHO Government Relations staff will continue to monitor the spending package as it makes its way through the House and Senate chambers and will provide additional updates as necessary.