Monday, March 27, 2006

FY 2007 House Budget Debate: Save Health & Education Funding

I'm leaving for Washington D.C. tomorrow. Here is why.

During the 2006 Senate debate on the Fiscal Year 2007 Budget, Senators Specter and Harkin (Chair and Ranking Members on the Senate Labor, Health and Human Services Education Appropriations Committee) introduced an amendment to the budget bill that restored funding for public health programs. Responding to an incredible flood of grassroots voices, on March 16th the Senate overwhelmingly adopted the Specter-Harkin Amendment, by a vote of 73-27.

The amendment increased health and education funding by $7 billion and rejected White House-proposed cuts, including the cut to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Epilepsy Program. These public health programs have been seriously eroded by years of flat funding, outright reductions, and four years of across-the-board cuts. Last year alone, public health programs lost over $1 billion in funding.

Investing in public health can slow the growth in programs like Medicaid and Medicare spending by preventing, or treating chronic diseases and disabilities and infectious diseases early. The Specter-Harkin amendment provisions protect and support the nation's investment in biomedical, behavioral and health services research, disease prevention and health promotion, targeted services to medically underserved populations, and education of a diverse health care workforce. The Specter-Harkin amendment restored health and education funding to FY 2005 levels by adding in $7 billion. This amount reflects the funding diminishment in the past two years alone.

The FY 2007 Budget Resolution would set overall budget ceilings for House and Senate appropriators and limit the funds they can allocate for federal agencies and programs. The House Budget Committee is scheduled to consider the successful Specter-Harkin Senate amendment to the FY 2007 Budget. The amendment, which restores funding for critical epilepsy public health programs, will be introduced by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) in the House on Wednesday, March 29th. Grassroots support is absolutely critical to winning passage of the Specter-Harkin amendment in the House of Representatives.

What You Can Do to Help

Urge your Representative to support the DeLauro (Specter-Harkin) Amendment to increase funding for health and education programs.

If your Representative is on the House Budget Committee, urge your Member to vote YES on the DeLauro (Specter-Harkin) Amendment in the Committee vote on the Budget Bill.

If your Representative is NOT on the House Budget Committee, urge the Member to weigh in with Budget Committee Chairman Jim Nussle (R-IA) to support the DeLauro (Specter-Harkin) Amendment.

You can also contact Chairman Nussle directly.

Contact your representative TODAY by calling or emailing. To make contact by phone, find your legislator's contact information online or call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 225-3121.

The Texas members on the Budget Committee: Democrats: Chet Edwards, Henry Cuellar, Republicans: Jeb Hensarling, Pete Sessions, Mike Conaway.

Here is the othe other reason why. My very special kid.

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