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Senate Appropriations Committee Passes Fiscal Year 2012 Labor-HHS-Education Bill

Just before the end of the federal Fiscal Year (FY) 2011, on September 21, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved three of its outstanding funding bills for FY 2012—Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS-Education); Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies; and Department of State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs.  If FY 2012 funding bills for all federal agencies, or a temporary funding measure known as a Continuing Resolution, are not approved by both Houses of Congress by the end of FY 2011, September 30, the federal government will shut down its non-emergency daily operations. 
The FY 2012 Labor-HHS-Education bill (S. 1599), which passed the full Appropriations Committee in a party line 16–14 vote, provides $70.18 billion in discretionary funding for the Department of Health and Human Services, a reduction of $26 million from the FY 2011 level.[1]  Many programs related to sexual and reproductive health, however, escaped cuts—a boon in this time of fiscal austerity.  The President’s Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative (TPPI), the first federal funding stream for more comprehensive approaches to sex education which was originally funded in FY 2010, received $105 million, equal to its FY 2011 level, with an additional $4 million designated for evaluating funded projects.  The Title X family planning program also received level funding of $299.4 million.
HIV and sexually transmitted disease (STD) prevention programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) fared similarly well—domestic HIV/AIDS prevention and research received level funding of $800 million, with $40 million allocated for HIV and STD prevention through the Division of Adolescent and School Health.  STD and viral hepatitis prevention programs at CDC also received level funding and the bill included an additional $10 million for viral hepatitis screening.  However, some programs improving health care access for lower-income women did receive cuts.  For instance, the Maternal and Child Health Block Grant program received an allocation of $600 million, $50 million below its FY 2011 level.[2]
While the Senate protected many sexual and reproductive health programs and programs providing health care for lower-income individuals, the FY 2012 appropriations process is far from over.  The House of Representatives, which attempted to eliminate TPPI and the Title X family planning program in FY 2011 and slash funding for myriad programs benefiting middle- and lower-income Americans, has yet to unveil its appropriations bills for the coming Fiscal Year.  Given the uncertainty regarding the timing of the House appropriations process, the full Senate has not scheduled a vote on any of its pending appropriations bills. 

[1]United States Senate Committee on Appropriations, “Summary: Fiscal Year 2012 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill—Subcommittee Mark,” Press Release published 20 September 2011, accessed 26 September 2011, <>.

[2]United States Senate, “Committee on Appropriations Report to Accompany S. 1599,” S. Rpt. 112–84, 22 September 2011, accessed 26 September 2011, <>.