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Senate Panel Clears FY 2007 Funding Bill for Mental Illness Research and Services

July 25, 2006

On July 20, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed spending legislation for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for FY 2007.  The legislation, known as the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill (HR 5647/S 3708) includes the FY 2007 budgets for the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

The House Appropriations Committee reported its version of HR 5647 on June 7.  Since then, the bill has stalled as a result of controversial language added to the bill increasing the federal minimum wage. It is important to note that in many instances, recommended funding levels in the Senate bill are above those in the House, largely as a result of the Senate bill having a larger budget allocation.  Eventually, House and Senate leaders will have to reconcile both overall and specific funding levels. 

For NIMH, the Senate bill (S 3708) rejects the President's proposal to cut NIMH funding by $8.5 million for FY 2007.  For SAMHSA, the Senate bill follows many of the recommendations of the President and freezes most programs at their current level. This reflects the tight constraints placed on all federal discretionary programs. The Senate is unlikely to take up its version of the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill until after the upcoming mid-term elections in November.  While Congress is supposed to complete action on this legislation prior to the start of FY 2007 on October 1, it is expected that an extension of funding at current levels will be necessary.   

NIMH – Proposed Cuts for FY 2007 Rejected

S 3708 includes nearly $1.404 billion for basic scientific and clinical research at NIMH.   This is close to the same amount allocated for FY 2006, and $8.5 million above the amount proposed by the Bush Administration and endorsed by the House.  NAMI is strongly supportive of the higher increases for NIH included in the Senate bill and will work to ensure that funding for NIMH is restored in the final version of HR 5647.

SAMHSA – Senate Boosts Funding for Youth Suicide Prevention

The Senate bill includes $40 million increase for youth suicide prevention and campus mental health program authorized as part of the Garrett Lee Smith Act, an $8.7 million increase over current levels.  This includes $30 million for grants to states and tribal organizations, $5 million for college and university programs and $5 million for SAMHSA suicide resource center.  By contrast, the House boosted funding for suicide prevention programs to $36.7 million.  NAMI is especially grateful to Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR) for his leadership in making these increases possible.  

Most other SAMHSA programs, and its Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS), are frozen at their current levels in both the House and Senate bills – and in some instances (including youth violence prevention) restore cuts that had been proposed in the President’s budget for FY 2007.  This includes:

  • $428.5 million for the Mental Health Block Grant program,
  • $25.7 million for the State Incentive Grant (SIG) – grants to states for “Mental Health Transformation,”
  • $54.3 million for the PATH program (services for homeless individuals with mental illness),
  • $104.1 million for the Children's Mental Health program,
  • $34.3 million for the PAIMI (protection and advocacy) program, and
  • $6.93 million for the Jail Diversion program. 

Funding for Services in Permanent Supportive Housing

The Senate bill also includes a $10.56 million increase for SAMHSA in FY 2007 to finance services in permanent supportive housing targeted to individuals with serious mental illness and co-occurring substance abuse disorders that have experienced chronic (long-term) homelessness.  Language endorsed by the Senate Appropriations Committee accompanying this allocation of funds specifically directs CMHS and SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT) to use their existing programmatic authority to ensure that this funding supports services in housing developed by HUD’s McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act.  NAMI – along with colleagues at the National Alliance to End Homelessness and the Corporation for Supportive Housing – pushed hard for this allocation of funds at SAMSHA.

Funding for Programs Under the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act

As part of a separate spending bill covering the Department of Justice (HR 5672), the Senate Appropriations Committee included $5 million for FY 2007 to support grants to state and local governments for programs such as jail diversion, mental illness treatment services for incarcerated individuals, community reentry and training of law enforcement personnel.  This is the same amount allocated by the House.  These programs were authorized as part of the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act (P.L. 108-414).

Read a copy of NAMI's testimony to the House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee on FY 2007 funding priorities for research and services.