News Releases

LHHS Appropriations bill includes increased investments for medical research, public health, maternal mortality, mental health, and more 

Bill increases funding for public schools, Head Start, child care, and the maximum amount students can receive through Pell grants 

Agencies charged with securing workers’ wages, and ensuring safe workplaces would also get funding boost 

Deal increases funding for workforce training and program to help struggling families pay their energy bills 

Full omnibus also includes bipartisan deal to end surprise billing, fund community health centers 

Murray: “Now more than ever, our focus has to be on what we can do to help families and communities—and by that simple, critical standard this bill represents meaningful progress and we need to get it signed into law as soon as possible.” 

Murray: “While this bill provides needed investments and certainty in a time of chaos, I don’t think anyone would say our work is done. Not by a long shot.” 

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (LHHS), released the following statement on the LHHS Fiscal Year 2021 Appropriations bill which passed as part of the larger spending and COVID-19 relief omnibus today.

“Now more than ever, our focus has to be on what we can do to help families and communities—and by that simple, critical standard this bill represents meaningful progress and we need to get it signed into law as soon as possible.

“As our country fights COVID-19, this bill would increase investments in key global health, public health, and preparedness programs as well as medical research. Funding from this bill won’t only bolster our efforts against COVID-19, but against other public health crises, like opioid addiction, the HIV epidemic, and our nation’s abysmally high maternal mortality rate.

“This bill would also increase support to schools, students, and parents across the country after this tumultuous year. It includes increases to funding for public schools, for the Head Start program, and for child care, and also increases the maximum Pell grant award students can receive.

“It also helps workers and families across the country by increasing support for agencies that ensure they have a safe workplace and that they get the pay they have earned. And at a time of economic uncertainty for so many families, it increases funding for workforce training to help people searching for a new job, and for an energy assistance program that will help families struggling to make ends meet keep the heat on this winter.   

“Of course, while this bill provides needed investments and certainty in a time of chaos, I don’t think anyone would say our work is done. Not by a long shot. We still have dramatically more we need to do to get our communities through this pandemic and build a stronger, fairer, future for everyone. Fortunately, with President Biden and Vice President Harris, we have an incoming Administration that appreciates the enormity of this moment and is already showing they are prepared to work with Congress to tackle the challenges ahead.”

Key Points & Highlights

Medical Research

The agreement provides $42.9 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), including $404 million from the 21st Century Cures Act, representing an increase of $1.25 billion over the fiscal year 2020 level and $4.12 billion more than the President’s request. It provides an additional $300 million for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias research, $3.12 billion in all to find treatments and cures for these devastating conditions.  It also includes increases of $60 million for the next phase of the BRAIN Initiative and a funding increase of no less than 1.5 percent for every NIH Institute and Center to support investments that advance science and speed the development of new therapies, diagnostics and preventive measures, improving the health of all Americans. As in fiscal year 2020, the bill provides $225 million from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Non-recurring Expenses Fund to support improvements to NIH’s Bethesda campus. Finally, the agreement directs NIH to require its grantees to notify it when key personnel are removed for concerns of harassment, an essential step toward addressing the findings of the 2018 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report on sexual harassment in academia.

Support for Public Schools

The bill includes approximately $500 million in increased investments in the nation’s public schools.  This include $16.5 billion, an increase of $227 million more than the fiscal year 2020 level, for the Title I-A grants to local educational agencies program.  Title I-A grants assist nearly sixty percent of the nation’s schools in their efforts to raise student achievement.  These programs provide extra academic support to help students, particularly those in high-poverty schools, meet college and career-ready state academic standards, including through preschool programs for eligible children.  The agreement also includes an increase of $181 million—$13.8 billion in all—for special education state grant programs.  The bill also includes increases for a range of other important programs, including $52 million more for Career and Technical Education state grants, $10 million more for English Language Acquisition State grants, and $5 million more for Education for Homeless Children and Youth.

College Affordability

The bill increases the Pell Grant maximum award by $150, to $6,495, when combined with mandatory funding, for roughly 7 million college students from low and middle income families.  This increase builds on previous successes for students, starting with the reinstatement of Year Round Pell Grant authority in fiscal year 2017, and a total increase of $425 in the maximum award since fiscal year 2018.  The President did not request an increase in the maximum award.  The bill also includes roughly $60 million in additional investments in Federal Work Study, grant aid and other preparation and higher education support programs, many of which the President proposed to cut. 

Workforce Development and Training

The bill includes $9.4 billion for DOL’s Employment and Training Administration, which is a $100 million increase.  The bill includes $2.85 billion, an increase of $26 million for the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Training formula grants to states to support the national system of education, skills training, and employment services for workers.  The bill provides $185 million for the Registered Apprenticeship Program, an increase of $10 million, and rejects the President’s proposal to create a lower quality, non-registered apprenticeship program that would open the door to unqualified employers to develop low wage, lower quality programs.  The bill includes $45 million for the Strengthening Community College Training Grants program, an increase of $5 million, to better align workforce development efforts in in-demand industries with postsecondary education.  The bill also provides approximately $900 million in emergency contingency funding to help states address spikes in unemployment claims due to the ongoing pandemic.

Worker Protection Programs

The bill makes important investments in agencies that help workers receive the pay they earn; ensure that employers provide safe and healthful working conditions; and strengthen trading partner commitments to comply with labor rights under free trade agreements and preference programs.  The agreement builds on last year’s increases in key worker protections agencies, which were the largest real increases seen in a decade.  The Wage and Hour division receives $246 million, an increase of $4 million more than fiscal year 2020 and $17 million or 7.4 percent more than fiscal year 2019.  This will strengthen efforts to recover wages for workers that do not receive the pay they are entitled to receive for their work.  The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) receives $592 million, an increase of $10 million more than fiscal year 2020 and $34 million or 6 percent more than fiscal year 2019, to ensure that employers are following the law and providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees.  Finally, the agreement includes $96 million for the International Labor Affairs Bureau to work with trading partner countries on their commitments to labor requirements under free trade agreements and trade preference programs, work that would have been undermined by the President’s proposed $77 million cut to the agency’s budget. 

Ending the HIV Epidemic

The bill includes $443 million for the second year of the domestic HIV/AIDS elimination initiative, an increase of $132 million.  This includes $207 million within the HRSA Community Health Centers and Ryan White programs to increase investments in high need communities and provide PrEP to protect people at highest risk of getting HIV.  It also includes $175 million within the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Domestic HIV/AIDS Prevention and Research programs to develop and deploy innovative data management solutions, increase access to PrEP, and better detect and respond to HIV clusters.  Within NIH, it includes $61 million, an increase of $10 million for the Centers for AIDS Research.

Maternal Mortality

The bill includes $62 million, an increase of $9 million, in HRSA and at the CDC for the initiative aimed at reducing the nation’s alarmingly high maternal mortality rate.  This will fund stronger data systems to improve surveillance and help expand programs that are proven to be successful at reducing maternal mortality.

Infectious Diseases

The bill includes $596.7 million, a $35 million increase, for the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to support advanced efforts to develop vaccines, diagnostics, drugs, and therapeutics to minimize serious threats of infectious diseases.  The bill also includes $770 million, a $35 million increase, for Project Bioshield to speed the research, development, acquisition, and availability of medical countermeasures to improve preparedness for chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats.  Finally, the bill also includes $287 million, a $27 million increase, for pandemic influenza preparedness to improve the effectiveness, production, and supply of influenza vaccines and therapeutics to combat seasonal epidemics and pandemics.

Opioids & Substance Use

The bill provides $3.95 billion in HHS to address opioid abuse, an increase of $84.6 million over fiscal year 2020 levels.  This funding includes: $1.5 billion to states to address the opioid epidemic; $91 million for medication assisted treatment; $476 million for opioid overdose surveillance and prevention at CDC; $80 million to address the needs of children affected by the opioid crisis; and $100 million to help affected rural communities. 

Mental Health

The bill includes increased funding to improve mental health access, including $250 million for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics, a $50 million increase; $757.6 million for the mental health block grant, a $35 million increase for states to create crisis care programs; $8 million for infant and early childhood mental health; and $107 million—a $5 million increase—for Project AWARE, which will expand efforts to identify and help children and youth in need of mental health care. 

Immunization and Respiratory Diseases

The bill provides $201 million, a $25 million increase, for influenza planning and response to support CDC’s efforts to expand vaccine effectiveness monitoring and evaluation, enhance virus characterization, increase genomic testing of influenza viruses, and increase influenza vaccine use by removing barriers to vaccination and promoting vaccination coverage.  Improvements in the development and delivery of seasonal influenza vaccine are critical to the nation’s ability to prepare for and respond to a potential influenza pandemic. 

Public Health Emergency Preparedness

The bill includes $695 million, a $20 million increase, to enhance support to State and local health departments in developing and maintaining capable, flexible, and adaptable public health systems to rapidly respond in an emergency.

Global Health Security

The bill provides $193 million, a $20 million increase, for Global Health Security to support CDC’s efforts to strengthen the capacities of developing countries to prevent, detect, and respond to infectious disease threats and outbreaks around the globe.  This funding will allow CDC to continue to build a long-term, sustainable foundation that maintains the agency’s capacity to address contagious disease threats where they occur.

Head Start

The bill provides $10.75 billion, $135 million more than fiscal year 2020, for Head Start.  The bill continues to strongly support Early Head Start Expansion and Early Head Start Child Care Partnerships in order to best meet the needs of local communities to provide continuous high-quality services to low-income infants and toddlers.  The bill also includes $10 million for quality improvement for migrant and seasonal Head Start programs.

Child Care

The bill provides $5.91 billion for the Child Care and Development Block Grant, $85 million more than fiscal year 2020.  The increase will help states continue to improve the quality and affordability of local child care programs so parents can go to work knowing their children are safe and learning the skills they need to succeed later in life.

Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)

The bill provides $3.75 billion for LIHEAP, a $10 million increase over fiscal year 2020. 

Expanding Support for Older Americans and Individuals with Disabilities

The bill includes $2.3 billion for the Administration for Community Living programs, and increase of $35 million, to support nutrition and family caregiver programs, home and community based supportive services, and promote strategies that enable older adults and people with disabilities to live in their communities.

Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS)

The bill rejects the President’s proposal to eliminate CNCS, and instead includes $1.1 billion, a programmatic increase of $40 million, to expand investments that help thousands of nonprofits, schools, faith-based groups, and local governments meet pressing local needs through service and social innovation.  

Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB): The bill rejects the President’s proposal to phase-out federal support for CPB and end the public-private partnership that supports the public media system of roughly 1,500 locally-owned public radio and television stations throughout the nation.  This public media system provides free educational and media programming to all Americans, particularly essential support for smaller stations serving rural areas.  The bill instead provides $475 million, an increase of $10 million more than fiscal year 2020, for regular operations, and $20 million to continue investments in public broadcasting’s interconnection system and infrastructure, the second increase in a row after a decade of no increase in federal support of the mission of CPB. 

Emergency Water Utility Assistance: The agreement includes $638 million in emergency spending to assist low-income households with water and wastewater bills.  The funding will go to States and Indian Tribes to assist those with the lowest incomes that pay a high proportion of household income for drinking water and wastewater services.  The provision will also help owners and operators of public water systems or treatment works to reduce water utility rates charged to low-income households.  As utility shut-off moratoriums are lifted across the country, this provision will help ensure that those most in need will continue to have access to water service.