Funding Increases For NIMH And CMHS In Jeopardy
Congress Considers "Continuing Resolution" For Labor, HHS, Education Appropriations Bill (HR 4577) That Would Delay Funding Increases Until April 2001
For Immediate Release, December 5, 2000
Contact: Chris Marshall
Congress has returned to Washington this week to try and resolve the remaining spending bills for FY 2001 and finish up the business of the 106th Congress in a "lame-duck" session. With the presidential contest still unresolved, Congress has no clear plan for finalizing "must-pass" FY 2001 spending bills such as the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill (HR 4577) that includes funding for the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS). Instead, Congress is now considering passing a long term "continuing resolution"-which would continue spending at last year's budget level and leave completion of HR 4577 and other bills to the next President and the 107th Congress.
HR 4577 was held up because of issues unrelated to either NIMH or CMHS - school construction funds and OSHA regulations. This impasse has continued as a result of the uncertainty and legal battles over the presidential race. This prolonged uncertainty is causing some in Congress to push for a "continuing resolution" that would keep current spending levels for all programs under the Labor-HHS Appropriations bill through April of 2001.
If Congress passes this continuing resolution, thousands of important basic scientific and clinical research projects at NIMH will either be stalled or cut. New and highly promising grants will remain without funding for months. Also, postponing action may jeopardize the previously agreed to increase when a new Congress considers the bill. This delay would be a serious blow to scientific progress.
The most recent House - Senate agreement on HR 4577 included significant increases for all NIH research institutes, including NIMH. Research on severe mental illnesses remains under-funded, given the tremendous scientific opportunities that exist and the severe burden that these diseases present to the public as well as to our families. Doubling the NIH budget by FY 2003 is a bipartisan goal supported overwhelmingly by the American public. In FY 2001, NIMH's budget was expected to top $1 billion for the first time, representing a $143.3 million increase. NAMI believes it is essential that the FY 2001 funding process be completed as soon as possible, and that the proposed $143.3 million increase for NIMH in the House-Senate pre-election agreement be preserved.
NAMI is also strongly supportive of the increases included in the House - Senate pre-election agreement on funding for the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) that are in HR 4577. For FY 2001 the Mental Health Block Grant was expected to receive a $64 million increase - up to $420 million. In fact, this final number was $4 million above the President's original request and amounts to a 31% increase over the past two years. The PATH program (services for homeless individuals with mental illness) was expected to receive a $6 million increase (up to $36.9 million). The Children's Mental Health program was expected to get a $4 million boost in FY 2001 (up to $86.8 million) and the protection and advocacy (PAIMI) program a $1 million increase (up to $25.9 million). Finally, CMHS' discretionary program (known as "Knowledge Development and Application" or KDA) was also expected to receive a boost, up from $136.9 million to $145.7 million. As well, it appears that the Administration's request for a new $30 million "targeted capacity expansion" program (that NAMI did not support) was rejected by Congress.
NAMI advocates are strongly encouraged to contact Congressional leaders, the White House, and your Representatives and Senators and urge them to finish the business of the 106th Congress with the following messages:
- Please pass the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bill (HR 4577) at the levels included in the House-Senate pre-election agreement.
- If that effort is unsuccessful, given the strong bipartisan support for biomedical research, modify the continuing resolution to give NIH institutes the planned increases for research and;
- Modify the continuing resolution to give CMHS the previously agreed to increases to enhance availability of already scarce community mental health treatment and services.
Let your members of Congress know that research is the ultimate source of hope for NAMI consumers and family members. Already, research has yielded tremendous advances, underscoring the fact that severe mental illnesses are brain disorders, and providing amazing treatment advances. As well, remind them how important increases in services programs such as the Mental Health Block Grant (MHBG) and PATH are for your community. NAMI is concerned that additional delays and uncertainties about funding levels for scientific research could slow the progress of critical research into new causes and treatments.
Contacts for the White House and Congressional Leaders:
House Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL) phone: 202-225-2976, fax: 202-225-0697
House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt (D-MO) phone: 202-225-2671; fax 202-225-7452
Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) phone: 202-224-6253; fax 202-224-2262
Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) phone: 202-224-2321; fax 202-224-2047
All members of the House and Senate can be reached by calling the Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 or by going to the policy page of the NAMI web site at www.nami.org/policy.htm and click on "Write to Congress." District and Washington office numbers can be found in your local phone book or through http://www.congress.org/
The White House can be reached by calling 202-456-1414 or through the White House web site at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/WH/Mail/html/Mail_President.html.