Congress Agrees on Funding for Mental Illness Research, Services and Veterans Programs – Presidential Veto Threatened
November 8, 2007
On November 7, the Senate failed to approve a motion to waive a “point of order” against combining the FY 2008 Labor-HHS-Education and Veterans spending bills. The 47 to 46 tally fell 13 votes short of the 60 needed to defeat the point of order, and the VA funding measure was stripped from the package. The Senate then voted 55-37 to approve the Labor-HHS conference agreement and send it back to the House. The House is expected to vote on the House-Senate Labor-HHS agreement on November 8, clearing it to be sent the White House. President Bush has promised to veto the Labor-HHS bill because it is approximately $10 billion over his FY 2008 budget request.
This means that the Labor-HHS and Veterans spending bills will now be sent to the President as separate measures. This increases the likelihood that the Veterans spending bill can be signed into law quickly. By contrast, the Labor-HHS bill is likely to be stalled after the President’s veto.
The Labor-HHS Appropriations bill (HR 3043) bill includes a number of critical investments in mental illness research and services such as:
- A $37.4 million increase in the budget for the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), boosting funding to $1.441 billion for FY 2008, and
- A $3.9 million increase for youth suicide prevention programs under the Garrett Lee Smith Act, boosting funding to $40 million for FY 2008.
The separate Veterans Appropriations bill (HR 2642) includes a record $37.2 billion appropriation for veterans medical care, $2.6 billion above the President’s FY 2008 request, including record increases for mental illness treatment in the VA and initiatives to treat veterans with PTSD.
Click here to view additional details on the Labor-HHS and Veterans Appropriations package.