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Senate Approves FY 2004 Omnibus Appropriations Bill

On Thursday, January 22, the Senate voted of 65 to 28 to give final approval to the $820 Omnibus Appropriations bill for FY 2004. This vote followed a 61 to 32 vote in favor of "invoking cloture," cutting off debate, and clearing the way for final passage. This action now sends the Omnibus Appropriations bill (HR 2673) to the White House where President Bush has pledged to sign the measure into law.

The FY 2004 Omnibus spending bill includes funding levels for a range of mental illness research and service programs (including important increases for NIMH, SAMHSA and the VA). Read more information on the details of spending levels for these programs.

The Senate’s action avoids the risk of both a government shutdown or a separate full year "continuing resolution" that would have kept current spending levels from FY 2003 in place for the remainder of FY 2004 (through October 1, 2004). Both alternatives would result in the loss of important increases for mental illness research and services programs that are now nearly four months late in being approved by Congress. Among the increases are mental illness research and services programs for FY 2004 that are part of the Omnibus Appropriations bill that President Bush will soon sign into law are:

  • a $49.7 million increase (3.7% over FY 2003) for mental illness research at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) – raising the NIMH budget to a record $1.39 billion,
  • a $2.8 billion increase for veterans’ medical care (increasing overall funding to $28.5 billion) – a hard fought $1.57 billion increase over the President’s FY 2004 request for the VA,
  • a $47 million increase for homeless programs at HUD (boosting funding to $1.267 billion for FY 2004) – this includes full funding for renewal of all expiring Shelter Plus Care (S+C) rent subsidies (a key permanent housing resource for people with mental illness experiencing chronic homelessness), and
  • increases at SAMHSA including a $7 million increase for the PATH program (services for homeless individuals with mental illness) and a $5 million increase for the Childrens’ Mental Health program.

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