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 May 17, 2019

The latest developments and trends in federal affairs impacting allied health education.

ASAHP at the table – FY 20 funding strategy discussion
with key Congressional appropriator

ASAHP was invited to participate as part of a small group of key stakeholders today in a discussion with a leading Member of the House Appropriations Committee. The message we received was “if you like what is in the House’s FY 20 appropriations bills, push the Senate to adopt the House’s overall spending level” (which includes $11.7 billion in funding for Labor, Health, and Education programs above current funding levels).

While this robust level of funding is not likely to happen in the Senate, the good news is that the House, Senate, and White House staff will begin meeting for the first time substantively next week to see if there can find an agreement on overall FY 20 spending. Press reports earlier in the week indicated that senior White House staff did not want to make a spending deal, but were overruled by the President.

The senior appropriator we spoke with indicated that the House will bring their FY 20 bills to the floor after the Memorial Day recess and the Labor-HHS bill, which funds much of our programming, could be taken up in early June (the same time period the Senate Labor-HHS bill is rumored to be marked up in Committee). Unlike in past years, the Senate appropriations bills are likely to be partisan affairs unless a top line funding agreement can be made.

To this point, Senate appropriators have expected to utilize current FY 19 funding levels as the basis for their FY 20 appropriations bills, but no formal agreement has been made among the Senate leadership. This approach could be worrisome, as top tier programs such as NIH, Head Start, etc. will still receive funding increases in the Senate FY 20 Labor-H bill, which means cuts could need to be made to other programs to pay these increases. New programs would be especially vulnerable under this scenario, including the House bill’s inclusion of a new community college initiative, for which ASAHP members would be eligible for funding. However, it will take a House-Senate conference bill later this year to determine what stays and what is eliminated in a final FY 20 bill.

All of which to say that the House Labor-HHS bill is likely the high water mark for FY 20 funding. Next week’s overall negotiations on FY 20 funding will determine whether a top line agreement is possible (and how generous the FY 20 bills will be funded) or whether the likelihood increases for a long term FY 20 Continuing Resolution to keep the government open past September 30th.