SUMMARY: Senate Committee Approves FY2018 Labor, HHS Appropriations Bill

Washington, D.C. (Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017) – The fiscal year 2018 Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS) Appropriations bill provides a total of $166 billion.  This figure includes $164.1 billion in discretionary funding as well as $1.896 billion in cap adjustment funding to prevent waste, fraud, abuse and improper payments in the Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security programs.

U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Ranking Member of the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Subcommittee, said:

“This is a bipartisan compromise and not the bill that either of us would have written on our own, but I am glad that Senator Blunt and I were able to work together to protect many critical investments in students, workers, women, families, and the economy. I am especially pleased that this bill doesn't include a single new damaging policy rider. While I support this bill as a compromise and the best we can do given the inadequate investment levels we’ve been given, it underscores the need for us to keep working toward another budget deal to increase investments in people, communities, and economic growth. But this bill is a good first step and a strong foundation for continued bipartisan work.”

U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said:

I want to thank Senators Blunt and Murray for their work on the Labor, Health and Human Services bill.  I am pleased that the bill includes funding for the Low Income Heating Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which is vital for northern states like Vermont.  It makes critical investments in medical research, and supports opioid abuse prevention and treatment programs, and makes investments in important programs that support early and higher education.

But the bill also falls short of so many urgent needs. We cannot responsibly fund the government if we do not reach a new bipartisan budget deal that lifts the reckless budget caps.  The consequences of sequestration have been devastating, and we must reach a bipartisan solution.” 

Key Points & Highlights

The bill recommends increases for several programs that enjoy strong bipartisan support, including significant investments in the National Institutes of Health.  The bill also protects investments in public schools and increases the maximum Pell grant by $100 to $6,020.


  • Job Training and Employment Services. The bill protects critical investments in the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) grants to States, which support our national workforce system and help approximately 20 million people each year look for work, train for in-demand careers, and connect with local employers ready to hire. The bill includes $2.71 billion for the WIOA formula grants and rejects the Administration’s proposal to cut them by over $1.1 billion, or 40 percent.
  • Apprenticeship Grants.  The bill includes $95 million to support the ApprenticeshipUSA Initiative, which is consistent with fiscal year 2017.  This funding will continue to expand innovative, job-driven approaches that expand apprenticeship programs to train workers with 21st century skills that meet employer and industry needs.  The bill directs the Department of Labor to generate and respond to new employer demand for apprenticeship programs and to recruit and serve under-represented populations, with a particular emphasis on increasing the representation of women in apprenticeships.
  • Veterans Employment and Training Services.  The bill includes $284 million for veterans training programs, providing intensive employment services to veterans and eligible spouses, transitioning service members early in their separation from military service, and wounded warriors recuperating in military treatment facilities. The bill includes a $4 million increase for the Transition Assistance Program to expand employment workshops at military installations and in virtual classrooms worldwide for exiting service members and spouses.
  • Wage and Hour Division (WHD).  The bill maintains funding of $227.5 million for the Wage and Hour Division.  Wage and Hour enforces important federal labor laws, including those covering the minimum wage and overtime for 135 million workers nationwide.  A focus of the Division is ensuring a fair day’s pay for a fair days work by investigating employer violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act and collecting back pay owed to workers.  Last year, WHD recovered almost $270 million for more than 280,000 workers.
  • Bureau of International Labor Affairs (ILAB).  The bill rejects President Trump’s proposal to slash the budget of this critical agency and provides the current level of $86 million to ensure that our trading partners around the world respect workers’ rights and workers in the United States are competing on a level playing field.  These funds will enable ILAB to monitor and enforce labor provisions in the nation’s trade agreements, and support additional grant assistance to address worker rights issues and combat exploitative child labor around the world.


  • National Institutes of Health (NIH).  The bill provides $36.1 billion for NIH, an increase of $2 billion from last year’s level and $9.5 billion above President’s request.  The increase includes an additional $414 million for Alzheimer’s disease research for a total of $1.8 billion.  It also includes increases of $140 million for the BRAIN Initiative and $50 million for research to combat antimicrobial resistance.  Every NIH Institute and Center receives increased funding to support investments that advance science and speed the development of new therapies, diagnostics and preventive measures, improving the health of all Americans. The bill rejects the President’s arbitrary proposal to dramatically cut facilities and administrative support, and includes language to ensure NIH adheres to its current policies for calculating these costs.
  • The Affordable Care Act (ACA).  The bill provides the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) with funding and program authorities that are consistent with those in fiscal year 2017, ensuring the Administration has sufficient resources to administer Medicare, Medicaid and the ACA. This includes full funding for the ACA Navigator program and other outreach and enrollment support programs. The bill does not include new language restricting HHS’ authority to administer or enforce the ACA. 
  • Family Planning Clinics. The bill includes $287 million for the Title X program, the same level of funding as in fiscal year 2017. Grantees rely on these funds to provide comprehensive family planning and preventive health services to nearly 5 million people.   The bill also includes new bill language that directs HHS to administer the program as it was during the Obama Administration.
  • Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Programs. The bill includes $5 million for a new HRSA grant to support clinical training of sexual assault nurse examiners (including registered nurses, nurse practitioners, and nurse midwives) to administer medical forensic examinations and treatments to victims of sexual assault in hospitals, health centers, and other emergency health care settings. The bill also includes an additional $5 million, a 30 percent increase, to the tribal set-aside for domestic violence shelters and related services, as well as an additional $5 million, an 11 percent increase, to CDC’s Rape Prevention and Education program.
  • Children's Hospitals Graduate Medical Education (CHGME).   The bill includes $305 million for CHGME, which is $5 million more than fiscal year 2017.  This funding will expand support for freestanding children’s hospitals’ training of resident physicians, research capabilities and care for vulnerable and underserved children.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  The bill provides $7.18 billion to CDC, which is $1.2 billion more than the President’s request.  The bill rejects cuts proposed by the administration to vital public health priorities such as immunization grants, HIV/AIDS prevention, birth defects and global health.  The bill also maintains separate funding for chronic disease prevention programs - in the areas of tobacco cessation, diabetes, nutrition, obesity, heart disease and stroke prevention - and rejects the proposed “America’s Health” block grant to states. 
  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health.  The bill provides $3.8 billion for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which is $13 million more than fiscal year 2017 and $387 million more than the President’s request.  The bill includes $15 million at SAMHSA for a new opioid prevention program that will fund prevention grants to communities and community coalitions based on evidence-based programs and promising practices.  This bill includes $500 million for the State Response to the Opioid Abuse Crisis grants and a new $5 million Screening and Treatment for Maternal Depression program, which were both authorized in the 21st Century Cures Act.
  • Preschool Development Grants. The bill provides $250 million for Preschool Development Grants, which were proposed for elimination in the President’s budget.  The first round of grants provided access to high-quality preschool for low- to moderate- income families in over 230 communities across 18 states, serving approximately 30,000 children in the most recent school year.  The new round of Preschool Development Grants, as authorized in the Every Student Succeeds Act, would continue to expand access while improving coordination of existing early childhood programs and alignment with K-12 education.  The bill also maintains the current level of funding for Head Start and the Child Care and Development Block Grant.
  • Community Services. The bill rejects the President’s proposal to eliminate the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and the programs under the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) Act.  The bill maintains the current funding level of $3.39 billion for LIHEAP, which provided critical heating and cooling assistance to over 6 million households at the same level of funding in fiscal year 2016.  The bill provides $700 million for the Community Services Block Grant, less than a 3 percent reduction from fiscal year 2017, and maintains the current funding level for the Community Economic Development and Rural Community Facilities programs.
  • Teen Pregnancy Prevention (TPP).  The bill includes $108 million for the TPP program, which provides funding for evidence-based interventions that reduce teen pregnancy and are medically accurate as well as age appropriate.  This is level with fiscal year 2017.  The program was proposed for elimination in the President’s budget.  The bill also includes new bill language directing HHS to administer the program as it was during the Obama Administration.
  • Office of Refugee Resettlement. The bill provides $320 million for the Transitional and Medical Services program, which would allow HHS to continue the current policy of providing eight months of cash and medical assistance at the projected number of eligible arrivals, and to sustain the matching grant program.  The bill consolidates the Refugee Social Services, Targeted Assistance and Refugee Health Promotion programs, and rejects the President’s request to cut those services by $43 million, or 20 percent.  The bill provides an increase of $2 million to the Victims of Trafficking program, which provides a variety of services to victims of commercial sex and forced labor trafficking.  The bill also reflects HHS projections for a continued reduction in the numbers of referrals to its Unaccompanied Children’s Program compared to recent years. 


  • Supporting Elementary and Secondary Education.  The bill protects key investments needed to support the implementation of the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), the bipartisan reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.  The bill includes:
  • $15.5 billion, $25 million more than fiscal year 2017, for Title I-A grants to local educational agencies (LEAs).  The bill also rejects the President’s request for language authorizing the Department to use $1 billion of these funds to compel districts to adopt policies which are not authorized by ESSA. This proposal would have resulted in funding cuts to all eligible public school districts.  The Title I-A program assists half of the nation’s schools in their efforts to raise student achievement for the almost 24 million students served by such programs.  These programs provide extra academic support to help students, particularly those in high-poverty schools, meet college- and career-ready state academic standards, including through preschool programs for eligible children;
  • $2.1 billion, the same as the current level, for Supporting Effective Instruction state grants, rejecting the President’s proposal to eliminate this support for evidence-based professional development and other activities that increase student achievement.  States have submitted and continue to submit plans to the Department that describe how they will use these funds for teacher and school leader training programs and other activities that would be undermined if such a proposal were adopted. 
  • $1.2 billion, the same as the current level, for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program.  The President’s budget proposed eliminating this source of support for afterschool and extended learning time activities for 1.8 million students at approximately 11,500 centers around the nation. 
  • $95 million, a reduction of $5 million from the fiscal year 2017 level, for the Education Innovation and Research program, which supports the development and scaling up of evidenced-based innovations designed to improve student achievement in public schools.  The bill does not include language requested in the President’s budget to authorize private school vouchers to be funded within this program; and
  • $450 million, rejecting the Administration’s proposed elimination and $50 million more than the fiscal year 2017 level, for the Student Support and Academic Enrichment formula grant program.  This program provide flexible resources that states, LEAs and schools can decide how to best use to improve student outcomes.
  • College Access and Affordability:  The bill maintains or increases a range of programs that help students prepare for, succeed in and pay for college.  These include:
    • $22.5 billion in discretionary spending for Pell Grants in fiscal year 2018, an increase in the maximum award by $100, to a new level of $6,020, and the rescission of $2.6 billion in prior year appropriations.  The increase in the maximum award combined with last year’s reinstatement of year-round or summer Pell grants will help make college more affordable for roughly eight million Pell recipients.  The bill preserves enough of the estimated $8 billion surplus of funds previously appropriated for Pell to keep the program in surplus through the remainder of the decade; 
    • $733 million for the Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant program proposed for elimination in the President’s budget.  These funds provide additional grant aid to 1.6 million undergraduate students, 70 percent of who had family incomes less than 30 percent.  The bill also rejects the 50 percent cut to the Federal Work Study program proposed in the President’s budget, maintaining the current funding level of $990 million for the more than 600,000 undergraduate and graduate students who receive financial assistance through the program.
    • $953 million, an increase of $3 million more than last year, for the TRIO program, rejecting the President’s  budget proposal to cut the program by $142 million and deny assistance to 130,000 individuals served through TRIO’s education opportunity centers or McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Program.  The bill also rejects the Administration’s proposed 35 percent cut to GEAR UP, maintaining the $340 million current funding level for college awareness and preparation programs for low-income elementary, middle, and high school students. 
    • The bill also includes new bill language restoring the eligibility period for Pell Grants for those students defrauded by institutions of higher education and language directing the Secretary to take additional actions to provide relief from fraudulently issued federal loan debt, including by contacting potentially eligible borrowers using information already available to the Secretary.
  • Office for Civil Rights (OCR).  The bill provides $117 million, an increase of $8.5 million, for the Department of Education’s OCR.  These funds are needed to maintain current staffing levels to handle an increased workload of complaints and investigations and allow for timely reporting of the important civil rights data collection. 


  • National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).  The bill maintains the current funding level of $274 million for the NLRB, which is charged with protecting employee and employer rights by enforcing the National Labor Relations Act.  The bill is free of language that might restrict or interfere with the NLRB’s activities.
  • Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB).  The bill provides $445 million, the same as the current level for CPB, to support a healthy and vibrant network of public media stations across the country.  The federal appropriation supports more than 1,400 locally owned and operated public television and radio stations that serve almost 99 percent of the American population living in rural and urban communities across all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories.  In addition, the bill provides $20 million, a decrease of $30 million, to continue federal support for the costs associated with replacing CPB’s interconnection system and system wide infrastructure that benefits the American people. 
  • Corporation for National and Community Service. The bill protects critical investments in CNCS, which supports thousands of nonprofits, schools, faith-based groups, and local governments in meeting pressing local needs through community service and social innovation.  The bill rejects the Administration’s proposal to eliminate the agency and includes $1 billion to support more than 345,000 AmeriCorps and Senior Corps members serving in 50,000 locations, providing direct services and mobilizing millions of additional volunteers to solve problems, expand opportunity, and strengthen communities.  
  • Social Security Administration (SSA). The bill provides $12 billion for Social Security’s administrative budget.  The Committee recognizes the budgetary needs and critical importance of SSA, and expects to revisit this funding level in conference. SSA affects the lives of 50 million Americans currently receiving retirement and survivor benefits, as well as the millions more who become eligible each year and those applying for and receiving disability benefits. 
  • Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS).   The bill provides $235 million, an increase of $4 million more than fiscal year 2017, and $212 million more than the President’s request.  IMLS is the primary source of federal support for our nation’s 123,000 libraries and approximately 35,000 museums.  IMLS provides grants to every state and territory in the country.

Murray Amendment

Committee Republicans Thursday rejected a funding amendment offered by Senator Murray to the LHHS appropriations bill that would have increased funding for education, job training, disaster preparedness, drug treatment and other services that Americans depend upon.  The amendment, totaling $16.5 billion, was the latest in a push by Committee Democrats to demand investments in the American people. The Democrats’ proposal would ultimately increase defense spending in fiscal year 2018 by $54 billion above post-sequester spending caps, mandated by the Budget Control Act, and provide an equal increase in non-defense programs – a budget and policy approach known as “parity.” The text and breakdown of the Murray Amendment is available HERE.  Highlights in the Murray Amendment rejected by Committee Republicans included:

  • $500 million more for Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Training formula grants to states to support job training and employment services for hundreds of thousands of American workers.
  • $100 million more for the ApprenticeshipUSA program that the Committee created in fiscal year 2016.
  • $1 billion for a new Paid Family Leave Initiative to help States set up universal, gender-neutral paid family and medical leave programs for all workers.
  • $100 million more for Title X Family Planning clinics to expand access to critical preventive and primary care services for millions of women and families nationwide.
  • $300 million more for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  These additional funds would be used for surveillance, prevention and control of vector-borne diseases, including the Zika virus, and for combating antibiotic resistant bacteria. 
  • $1 billion more for the National Institutes of Health. These additional funds would support investments in innovative research to advance the development of new therapies, diagnostics, and preventive measures to improve the health of all Americans.
  • $1 billion more for the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment Block Grant.  These urgently needed funds would be used by States for the prevention and treatment of opioid and heroin addiction, including medication assisted treatment.
  • $400 million more for the Administration for Community Living to expand critical programs that increase access to community support, like  nutrition and caregiving, for older Americans and people of all ages living with disabilities. 
  • $1.4 billion more for the Secretary of Health and Human Services to prepare for the health consequences of bioterrorism and other public health emergencies, including pandemic influenza.  Additional funding is provided for the advanced research and development of medical countermeasures, the procurement of medical countermeasures, and pandemic influenza preparedness and response activities.  Also included is $300 million for a Public Health Rapid Response Fund, which would allow the Department to provide immediate response to a disease outbreak, disaster, or another urgent or emergency public health care need. 
  • $590 million more for Head Start to provide a cost-of-living adjustment and for quality improvements needed to implement the 2016 Head Start Program Performance Standards, including allowing grantees to expand their programming to a full school day and a full school year.  The amendment also includes $1.3 billion more for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) to implement reforms in the 2014 reauthorization law and maintain the program’s current caseload of 1.4 million children.
  • $1 billion more for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).
  • $1.225 billion to provide additional resources to school districts under the title I-A formula grant program. 
  • $1.150 billion for the Student Support and Academic Enrichment grant program to allow the program to operate on a formula basis as required by the bipartisan Every Student Succeeds Act. 
  • $1 billion for State grants for Special Education under section 611 of the IDEA to enable the share of federal funding supporting special education to increase rather than decrease, which leaves state and local taxpayers to make up the difference.    
  • $500 million to provide additional resources for State Grants for Career and Technical Education.  These funds would assist States in expanding career and technical education from high school to technical schools and community colleges. 
  • A provision eliminating the $2.6 billion rescission in the bill of prior year unobligated balances in the Pell Grants program.  In place of a rescission, these funds could be used to continue strengthening the program for students in the future. 
  • $1.36 billion more for the Social Security Administration to cover built-in cost increases, improve customer service when its workload is rapidly increasing, and reduce its hearings backlog of over 1.1 million pending cases.

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