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U.S. Senate introduces FY 2020 spending bill for health, human services and workforce programs

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Senate introduces FY 2020 appropriations bill for federal health, human services & workforce programs Introduction of the legislation follows the U.S. House’s passage of an FY 2020 Labor-HHS bill in June 2019

Appropriations Analysis

On September 18, the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee introduced legislation outlining FY 2020 spending levels for the U.S. Departments of Labor (DOL), Health and Human Services (HHS), Education (ED) and Related Agencies. The proposal combines $178.3 billion in discretionary funding with $9.4 billion in changes to mandatory spending to boost or maintain funding for federal health, human services and workforce programs important to counties. Although the full House passed its FY 2020 Labor-HHS bill earlier this summer, Senate legislators are still negotiating their Labor-HHS proposal, which currently lacks bipartisan agreement.

The chamber’s introduction of the proposal follows passage in the U.S. House of an FY 2020 spending bill for Labor-HHS programs in June 2019. As passed, the House legislation generally proposes higher levels of funding for health, human services and workforce programs than the Senate bill, although the Senate legislation offers major funding increases in areas such as HIV/AIDS prevention activities and apprenticeship programs. Legislators in both chambers will need to negotiate any differences in proposed levels.

This analysis highlights key takeaways for counties for programs outlined in the Senate’s FY 2020 Labor-HHS bill. The attached chart also details differences between the House and Senate proposals for FY 2020 on major county priorities and includes a comparison of FY 2019 enacted spending levels for these programs.

Both chambers propose major funding increases for health and human services in FY 2020, with focus on opioids, research and child care programs

For FY 2020, the Senate would allot $93.4 billion for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a $2.9 billion increase above the FY 2019 enacted level and approximately $5 billion below the House-approved level. In both chambers’ proposals, the majority of funding would be invested in the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which would receive $42.1 billion for FY 2020, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which would receive $7.52 billion for the next fiscal year under the Senate bill.

Funding for NIH and CDC would support research and prevention and education activities, with an emphasis on Alzheimer’s Disease ($2.4 billion) and HIV/AIDS research ($2.38 billion). Notably, the Senate bill allots $266 million in FY 2020 to a new HHS initiative focused on reducing new HIV infections – a $210 million increase above the FY 2019 level. The House bill would fund the program at $140 million for FY 2020. Titled “Ending the HIV Epidemic: A Plan for America,” the initiative will be rolled out in 2020 and direct funding and resources to 48 counties, Washington, D.C., San Juan in Puerto Rico and seven states with high rates of HIV/AIDS infection. 

In addition to funding boosts for NIH and CDC, the Senate legislation would provide a slight funding increase for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which plans and operates community-based services for people with mental illnesses and substance use disorders. For FY 2020, SAMHSA would receive $5.9 billion under the Senate bill, compared to the FY 2019 enacted level of $5.85 billion, with funding for substance use disorder prevention activities and treatment programs ($3.8 billion). The House bill contains a slightly higher allocation for SAMHSA in FY 2020, totaling $5.9 billion.

The Senate bill also includes funding increases for several federal human services programs administered through HHS. Both the House and Senate funding proposals would increase funding for the Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG), with the Senate providing $5.3 billion to the program in FY 2020 and the House committing $7.7 billion to the program over that same period. Each chamber’s proposed funding level for the program represents an increase above the FY 2019 enacted appropriation of $5.27 billion – the program’s highest-ever funding level. CCDBG helps states and counties provide quality child care to low-income families with children under 13, and offers funding flexibility for local jurisdictions to improve existing child care systems.

In addition to CCDBG, the Senate bill provides a slight funding increase to the Head Start program, including $10.1 billion for FY 2020, compared to the House-approved level of $11.6 billion for FY 2020 and FY 2019 enacted level of $10 billion. Administered by more-than 1,700 agencies in local communities, Head Start provides low-income families with children’s immunizations; medical, dental and mental health checkups; and helps connect families to housing opportunities, job training and counseling.

The Senate bill would also fund the Community Services Block Grant (CSBG) at $700 million for FY 2020, a decrease of $25 million below FY 2019 enacted level and $60 million below the House-approved level.

Senate bill offers some funding increases for federal workforce programs, while both chambers weigh new resources for skills training

Under the Senate proposal, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) would receive $12.1 billion for FY 2020, an increase of $28 million above the FY 2019 level and$1.2 billion below the House level. The Senate boosts or maintains funding for an array of federal workforce development programs, including major county priorities.

For the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), the Senate bill maintains $2.8 billion in level funding for WIOA programs, which help states and localities connect residents with in-demand skills training and education, and businesses with skilled jobseekers. Within the $2.8 allocated to WIOA, Adult programs would receive $845.6 million; Youth activities would receive $903.4 million and approximately $1.04 billion would support Dislocated Worker programs. The House bill would fund WIOA at $3 billion in FY 2020, with across-the-board funding increases for Adult, Youth and Dislocated Worker programs.

Also under the Senate proposal, ETA funding would support workforce programs important to counties, including $1.7 billion in level funding for the Job Corps and $170 million for Registered Apprenticeships, a $10 million increase above the FY 2019 enacted level. YouthBuild would receive $89.5 million under the Senate bill, which supports high school students at risk of dropping out obtain industry-recognized credentials, apprenticeships and employment. The House bill proposes a $38.5 million increase for YouthBuild in FY 2020, totaling $128 million.

Within DOL, the Veterans Employment Training Service (VETS) would receive $306 million for FY 2020, an increase of $6 million above the FY 2019 level. The House bill, meanwhile, would provide $316 million to the program in FY 2020. VETS funding provides employment assistance for veterans and eligible spouses transitioning from their military service into the civilian workforce.

Both the House and Senate bills build on these investments in our nation’s workforce with new proposals to improve continued education and skills training. The Senate bill, for instance, commits $10 million in new federal funding to establish a Youth Career Pathways demonstration program aimed at improving opportunities for students to explore a wide range of post-secondary education and career options. The House bill does not currently contain this measure, although it allocates $150 million in new funding for Strengthening Community College Training Grants (SCCTG). The SCCTG grant program is aimed at meeting local and regional labor market demand by providing skills training to employees in in-demand industries.

House and Senate to negotiate FY 2020 spending on Labor-HHS programs over October recess

Once the Senate spending proposal is complete, the two chambers are expected to spend the October recess finalizing funding levels for these programs. Congress’ recent approval of a continuing resolution (CR) gives legislators until November 21 to iron out these differences, although lawmakers could enact another CR after that date if they need additional time to complete government funding details.


For more NACo resources on budget and appropriations, please see the following links:

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