amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research

Committee Approves FY2008 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education Spending Bill

Nov. 6, 2007—A House-Senate conference committee has reconciled differences between alternate versions of the FY2008 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Spending Bill (Labor-HHS-Education), allocating more than $149 billion overall, including $30 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The NIH's allocation represents a $1.1 billion, 3.8 percent increase over FY2007. But while the final NIH allocation is a significant increase over the president's request—which would have cut funding by more than $480 million—it does not keep pace with biomedical inflation.

In addition to resolving the discrepancy in NIH funding, the conference committee also resolved differences in House- and Senate-appropriated funding levels for Community-Based Abstinence Education (CBAE) programs. CBAE provides grants for organizations to implement abstinence-only-until-marriage education. For FY2008, the Senate proposed decreasing funding for CBAE by $28 million. This proposal was based in part on recent studies that have found no evidence that abstinence-only programs either increase rates of sexual abstinence or reduce rates of HIV. But the conference committee ultimately followed the lead of the House and adopted an increase of $28 million for CBAE—the second largest funding hike in its history. This increased funding is also a marked departure from the past three fiscal years in which these programs were flat funded.

The House and Senate will meet this week to consider the final Labor-HHS-Education package. The president has threatened to veto the bill because it exceeds his budgetary requests.

UPDATE (11/14/07)—President Bush has vetoed the Labor-HHS bill. The House is expected to vote on overriding the veto later this week.