On Wednesday, December 19, the House cleared an omnibus appropriations bill (H.R. 2764), sending it on to the President, who is expected to sign it as soon as today.
This omnibus spending bill includes funding for the 11 remaining FY2008 appropriations bills not yet enacted into law this year, and matches President Bush's proposed spending limit of $933 billion for all FY2008 discretionary appropriations.Note: Although the FY2008 Labor-HHS-Education spending bill (H.R. 3043) was passed by Congress earlier this fall, it was subsequently vetoed by President Bush, and thus is now included in the omnibus appropriations bill.
Unfortunately, the omnibus bill passed by Congress this week represents a paring back of Democratic spending priorities in order to meet the President's proposed spending limit.
Labor-HHS-Education spending included in the bill includes $145.1 billion in discretionary spending, which represents about $5.6 billion less discretionary funding than was included in H.R. 3043. Overall discretionary funding in the Labor-HHS-Education section of the omnibus bill includes about $600 million more than was provided through last year's Labor-HHS-Education bill.
TBI programs, unfortunately, were among those losing discretionary funding compared to the amounts contained in H.R. 3043.
The final funding amounts are as follows:
CDC TBI Programs (HHS): $5.709 million
HRSA TBI Programs (HHS) (HRSA TBI State Grant Program and Protection and Advocacy Systems): $8.754 million
TBI Model Systems of Care (NIDRR/Department of Education): $8.155 million, with specific report language included in the final bill as follows: "The amended bill specifies $8,300,000 [$8,155,000 after a 1.747 percent across-the-board cut] within the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research to carry out the traumatic brain injury model systems of care program and to fund two additional centers that submitted applications for the last grant competition."
Democratic leaders in Congress have asserted that although undesirable, the funding cuts contained in this week's omnibus appropriations bill are still preferable to the President's budget blueprint (which would have eliminated all funding for HRSA TBI Act programs). Although the funding level for the HRSA TBI program contained in this omnibus bill is extremely disappointing and unacceptable, strong TBI advocacy efforts this year undoubtedly produced a more positive outcome than would have resulted if the voices of TBI advocates were not heard. We will continue to fight to ensure that these voices are heard, louder than ever, next year.
In addition, the increase in funding for the TBI Model Systems represents a significant victory in a difficult budget year.