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November 16, 2007


November 16, 2007


Domestic TB Bill Passes Senate Committee

In response to the October 30 hearing on TB, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee, chaired by Sen. Kennedy (D-MA), held a vote on the Comprehensive TB Elimination Act, S. 1551, sponsored by Sens. Brown (D-OH) and Hutchison (R-TX) on November 14. As no committee member spoke against the bill, it passed unanimously on a voice vote. The overwhelming bipartisan vote in favor of the bill at the committee level is a special success for the ATS Washington Office, which drafted the bill and has led advocacy efforts on it for several years. The Washington Office would like to extend a special thanks to Randall Reves, MD, whose eloquent testimony during the HELP Committee hearing helped pave the way for the bill’s successful passage, and to all ATS members who contacted their Senators in support of the bill.


House Fails to Override Presidential Veto of 2008 Health Spending Bill

This week the House of Representatives attempted to override the President’s recent veto of the Fiscal Year 2008 Labor-Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations (L-HHS-ED) legislation, but failed to gain the necessary two-thirds majority by five votes. This annual spending bill funds all health research and services, including the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Congress will now have to negotiate a budget deal with the President before it adjourns for the year in December. Such a deal could endanger the funding increases allocated for the NIH and CDC, with one option being an across the board cut to all programs.

The L-HHS-ED bill includes $30 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a $100 million increase over the original Senate allocation of $29.9 billion and a 3.8% increase over the FY 2007 level for NIH. Included in the NIH budget allocation is an increase for the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of 3.8%, putting its total budget at $3.002 billion. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would be funded at $6.29 billion, a 6.5% increase over the FY07 level, including an 8% increase for CDC’s domestic TB program that would fund the program at $146.5 million.

Bush Signs Continuing Resolution

This week, President Bush sign the Defense appropriations bill into law - the first and only one of the regular 13 appropriations bill completed this Congress. Included in the Defense bill was a continuing resolution that funds through December 14th all federal programs in the remaining 12 unfinished appropriations bills. The bill also provides an extension for the Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).

While the continuing resolution avoids a government shut down, it does place VA-related programs in a budget squeeze. The continuing resolution funds the VA program at the President's budget request for 2008, which will mean a cut in funding for the VA research program.

Congress has passed legislation that would provide a 16% increase in VA funding for 2008. Congress and the White House continue to be at an impasse on how to resolve fund difference on the remaining 12 appropriations bills.

Points of Contact

Gary Ewart Senior Director, Government Relations
Nuala Moore Senior Legislative Representative
Joe Kirby DC Office Administrator