STATEMENT OF ADMINISTRATION POLICY
(Rep. Obey, D-Wisconsin)
The Administration strongly supports House passage of H.R. 3293, making appropriations for Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2010.
Central to the Nation's long-term economic success is an education system that responds to the demands of today while anticipating students' needs in the years ahead. The Administration's plans for a 21st Century education system begin with demanding effective reform and accountability coupled with the resources needed to carry out that reform. The bill, as approved by the Committee, provides resources to begin this innovative education revolution.
From doubling funding for research to accelerating the search for a cure for cancer and other diseases, the President's plan would place renewed focus on the value of science to the Nation, strengthening research that has the potential to revolutionize fields of medicine and lead to path-breaking technologies. The appropriations legislation approved by the Committee supports the President's plan.
The Committee bill also would expand Americans' access to quality health care close to home. Building on the investments in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the Committee bill enhances funding for community health centers, addresses health professional shortages in underserved areas, and boosts public health support at the local and State levels.
This legislation also expands funds for workforce training with an increased focus on new clean-energy industries and promising approaches. Combined with improved enforcement of workplace safety, working conditions, and benefit security, the bill provides important support for the President's plans to jumpstart the economy now, while giving American workers expanded opportunities in the years ahead.
The Administration would like to take this opportunity to share additional views regarding the Committee's version of the bill.
Teacher Incentive Fund (TIF). The Administration appreciates the Committee's increased support for TIF and strongly urges the Congress to adopt the President's full request.
National Institutes of Health (NIH) Research. The Administration appreciates the Committee's support for NIH-funded research. The President's Budget request placed a special emphasis on cancer research that would be funded through the scientific peer-review priority setting process. By 2010, cancer is expected to surpass heart disease as the number one leading cause of death globally.
Charter School Grants. The Administration appreciates the Committee's support for increased Charter School funding and inclusion of a new provision to fund Charter School management organizations and the replication of effective Charter Schools. The Administration urges the Congress to adopt the President's full request for the program and drop the limitation on funding under the new provision.
Corporation for National and Community Service. The Administration strongly urges the Congress to fully fund the President's request and set the AmeriCorps program on a path to 250,000 members by 2017, as authorized in the bipartisan Serve America Act. The Administration also urges full support for the Social Innovation Fund, a critical investment in finding, evaluating, and replicating the most effective approaches to challenges facing communities.
Job Training Initiatives. The Administration appreciates the Committee's strong support for the critical job training initiatives proposed in the Budget, notably green jobs, transitional jobs, and the Career Pathways Innovation Fund.
Teen Pregnancy Prevention. The Administration appreciates that the Committee shifts resources into a new, $114 million initiative for proven and promising efforts to prevent teen pregnancy.
Evaluation and Data. The Administration appreciates the Committee's support for increases in funding for the Institute for Education Sciences, for evaluation at the Department of Labor and the Corporation for National and Community Service, and for a new workforce data quality initiative at the Department of Labor. Because rigorous evaluation and accurate data are critical to the effective use of taxpayer dollars, the Administration urges the Congress to fully fund its evaluation and data requests.
School Improvement Grants. The Administration is disappointed that the Committee provided only $546 million for School Improvement Grants, $1 billion less than the request. The Administration places a high priority on implementing effective strategies for turning around the Nation's lowest-performing schools. The Congress is urged to provide additional funding for school improvement grants. The Congress is urged to fund the Administration's full request for Striving Readers as opposed to creating programs at odds with the need for comprehensive reform.
Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). The Administration appreciates the Committee's support for expanding funding for treatment, screenings, surveillance, public awareness, and research related to ASD at the Department of Health and Human Services.
Pandemic Influenza and Advanced Development. The Administration appreciates that the Committee provides the requested level for pandemic flu activities. The Congress has been very supportive of these efforts over the past several years, which have improved substantially the Nation's preparedness for a pandemic. The Administration also appreciates support for advanced development activities.
Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Program Integrity. The Administration appreciates the Committee's support for strengthening program integrity in Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children's Health Insurance Program by including $311 million requested for Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control activities. This funding will enable CMS to respond more rapidly to program integrity vulnerabilities, identify excessive payments, and establish new processes for improving payment accuracy.
Health Care Workforce. The Administration appreciates the Committee's support for increased funding for key initiatives in workforce development. The President believes that health professions training, including the placement of primary care providers in underserved areas, is critical to improve access and quality of health care services.
Social Security Administration (SSA). The Administration appreciates the Committee's support for SSA, fully funding the request and adopting the program integrity proposal to reduce erroneous payments. This funding will allow SSA to tackle increasing retirement claims, disability claims, and appeals hearings.
Efficiencies and Cost-Saving Proposals. The Administration appreciates the Committee's support for some of the President's initiatives to terminate or reduce programs that have outlived their usefulness, fund narrowly focused activities, or duplicate existing programs, in particular the National Institute for Literacy. The Administration encourages the Congress to reconsider other proposals made by the Administration that would better target scarce resources and redirect funds to programs with greater potential for results.
Department of Education
The Administration appreciates the Committee's support for several of the President's education priorities. However, the Congress is urged to fully fund the Innovation Fund, which supports proven and promising approaches to lifting student achievement, and which was first created under the Recovery Act.
Department of Labor
The Administration appreciates the Committee's support for the Department of Labor. While the Administration acknowledges the Committee's strong support for worker protection, it encourages the Congress to consider full funding the request to rebuild the capacity of these agencies to protect the wages and working conditions of the Nation's workers, and reduce the amount of the H-1B rescission, which at its current level jeopardizes the Department's enforcement capacity.
Department of Health and Human Services
Expanding Public Health Services. The Administration appreciates the Committee's support for a number of important public health activities, including enhancing the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS, improving rural health services and children's mental health services, and increasing the treatment capacity of drug courts.
CMS Research. The Administration urges the Congress to provide the $57 million requested in the President's Budget to fund research, demonstration, and evaluation for Medicare and Medicaid to find ways to provide higher quality care at lower costs, improve beneficiary education and understanding of benefits, and better align provider payments with costs.
Administration for Children and Families. The Administration appreciates that the Committee fully funded the President's request of $7.2 billion for Head Start and $20 million for a new child welfare initiative.
Strengthening Communities Fund. The Administration encourages the Congress to consider funding this program at the level requested in the President's Budget.