House Votes to Approve Spending Cut Bill; Legislation Now Moves to Senate

by Rebecca Farley on February 24, 2011

The House on Feb. 19 voted to approve a fiscal year 2011 continuing budget resolution (CR) containing $60 billion in spending reductions compared to current levels. These cuts represent more than $100 billion less than President Obama’s budget request for 2011. The vote was 235-189, with all Democrats and three Republicans voting against the bill.

During the lengthy debate over the bill (HR 1), Representative Charlie Bass (R-NH) introduced an amendment that would have stripped SAMHSA of an additional $98 million dollars below the over $200 million in cuts already included. The amendment failed to pass, but the $200 million reduction remained in the bill. In addition, the House adopted by a 239-187 vote, an amendment by Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT) to effectively defund the health reform law. Rehberg’s amendment would prohibit using funds from the Health and Human Services portion of the CR to pay government employees or contractors to implement the Affordable Care Act. The House also adopted an amendment by Rep. JoAnn Emerson (R-MO) that would prohibit the IRS from enforcing the tax penalties to which individuals would be subject beginning in 2014 if they failed to purchase health insurance.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has released a report providing state-by-state estimates of cuts to the mental health block grant, substance abuse prevention and treatment block grant, and other public services that could result from this legislation. Per-state cuts to the block grants range from tens of thousands to several million dollars. For information about additional cuts included in the bill, please see our story in the Feb. 17th issue of the Public Policy Update.

The CR will now move to the Senate for further debate and consideration. Many of the cuts included in the CR are sure to generate significant opposition when the Senate returns from recess on Monday. The continuing resolution that is currently funding the government is set to expire on March 4, meaning that Congress must either enact another CR before that time or risk a government shutdown.

Action Needed: There is still time to influence the budget for the remainder of the 2011 fiscal year – please contact your Senators today and urge them to fight cuts to mental health and addictions services! (http://capwiz.com/thenationalcouncil/issues/alert/?alertid=25048501)

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