With the beginning of the new Fiscal Year 2012 just one week away, Congress will not have time to complete action on all appropriations bills, and will have to approve a short-term continuing resolution (CR) in the meantime. Both chambers have worked on the various bills in some capacity, and earlier this week, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the FY12 Senate Labor, Health and Human Services and Education Appropriations bill, which allocates spending for discretionary health and child welfare programs and the agencies that oversee these programs. While most programs were flat funded, there were slight increases for the Promise Neighborhoods community transformation program and Head Start. Unfortunately, the bill included a $50 million cut to the Title V Maternal and Child Health Block Grant. The accompanying report language points to future increases in the Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program, as offsets for reductions in Title V funding. The bill also confirms the elimination of the Mentoring Children of Prisoners program from FY 2011. The House Appropriations Committee has postponed action on this bill, and it remains unclear when they plan to take up the measure.
The House has passed a CR that would keep the government funded through November 18th, but the Senate rejected that bill, and Congress will likely spend next week finalizing a measure to temporarily fund these programs at their current levels and prevent a government shutdown.