Congressional Affairs (Prepared January 21, 2009)
NIDA continues to operate under a continuing resolution, with funding at the FY 2008 level (enacted at $1.001 billion). Congress is working on legislation that will fund the remainder of FY 2009. As a reminder: last June, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, Education marked up its draft bill for FY2009, including a 3.9 percent or $1.15 billion increase for NIH programs. The full Committee met but adjourned before taking action on the FY2009 Labor, HHS, Education appropriations bill. In the Senate, the Appropriations Committee passed its Labor/HHS bill for FY 2009. This bill included an increase of $1.025 billion for NIH, for a total of $30,254,524,000. Final Congressional action is expected prior to the March 6, 2009 expiration of the continuing resolution.
Transition - Executive Branch
HHS Secretary-Designate Tom Daschle had a confirmation hearing on January 8, 2009 in the Senate's Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. He also must testify in front of the Committee on Finance; as of this writing that hearing is not scheduled.
William Corr has been nominated to be Deputy Secretary of HHS. Since early 2000, Mr. Corr has been the Executive Director of the Campaign for Tobacco Free Kids. Prior to that, he was Chief Counsel and Policy Director for former Senator Tom Daschle. Before that Senate role, Mr. Corr was the HHS Chief of Staff for Secretary Donna Shalala. At HHS, he also served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health and Counselor to the Secretary.
As of this writing, we are still waiting to hear who will be nominated by President Obama to be the NIH Director, as well as the Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
Legislation of Particular Interest
Parity Legislation enacted into law. In October, 2008, after 12 years of effort, Congress passed and the President signed legislation designed to ensure parity for substance abuse and mental health in insurance coverage. The legislative language, the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008, was included in the economic recovery bill that moved through Congress last fall.
Bills of Interest
[For the full text and additional information about any bill, go to the Library of Congress website at http://thomas.loc.gov].
H.R. 2 - On January 13, Representative Frank Pallone (D-NJ) introduced the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009, to amend Title XXI of the Social Security Act to extend and improve the Children's Health Insurance Program, and for other purposes. Section 502 of this bill includes substance abuse and mental health parity for insurance coverage. The bill was passed by the House on January 14. See S. 275.
H.R. 18 - On January 6, Representative Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD) introduced the "Powder-Crack Cocaine Penalty Equalization Act of 2009," to amend the Controlled Substances Act and the Controlled Substances Import and Export Act with respect to penalties for powder cocaine and crack cocaine offenses. The bill was referred to the Judiciary and Energy and Commerce Committees.
H.R. 179 - On January 6, Representative Jose Serrano (D-NY) introduced the Community AIDS and Hepatitis Prevention Act, to permit the use of federal funds for syringe exchange programs for purposes of reducing the transmission of bloodborne pathogens, including HIV and viral hepatitis. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce.
H.R. 193 - On January 6, Representative Pete Stark (D-CA) introduced the AmeriCare Health Care Act of 2009, to amend the Social Security Act and Internal Revenue Service Code of 1986 to provide for an AmeriCare that assures the provision of health insurance coverage to all residents, and for other purposes. Section 2221(h) of this Act would provide benefits for "mental health services and for substance abuse treatment in the same manner as such benefits are made available for medical and surgical services. The bill was referred to three committees: Energy and Commerce; Ways and Means; and Education and Labor.
H.R. 265 - On January 7, Representative Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX) introduced the Drug Sentencing Reform and Cocaine Kingpin Trafficking Act of 2009, to target cocaine kingpins and address sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine. The bill was referred to the Judiciary and Energy and Commerce Committees.
H.R. 439 - On January 9, Representative Dennis Rehberg (R-MT) introduced the Family-Based Meth Treatment Access Act of 2009, to amend the Public Health Service Act regarding residential treatment programs for pregnant and parenting women, a program to reduce substance abuse among nonviolent offenders, and for other services. The bill was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce.
S. 77 - On January 6, Senator John Kerry (D-MA) introduced the Children's Mental Health Parity Act, to amend Title XXI of the Social Security Act to provide for equal coverage of mental health services under the State Children's Health Insurance Program. The bill was referred to the Committee on Finance. See H.R. 2 and S. 275.
S. 114 - On January 6, Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI) introduced the National Center for Social Work Research Act, to amend the Public Health Service Act to provide for the establishment of a National Center for Social Work Research within the National Institutes of Health. The bill was referred to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.
S. 132 - On January 6, Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) introduced the Gang Abatement and Prevention Act of 2009, to increase and enhance law enforcement resources committed to investigation and prosecution of violent gangs, to deter and punish violent gang crime, to protect law-abiding citizens and communities from violent criminals, to revise and enhance criminal penalties for violent crimes, to expand and improve gang prevention programs, and for other purposes. Section 313 of the bill establishes a National Youth Anti-Heroin Media Campaign at the Office of National Drug Control Policy. The bill was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.
S. 275 - On January 16, Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) introduced the Children's Health Insurance Program Reauthorization Act of 2009, to amend Title XXI of the Social Security Act to extend and improve the Children's Health Insurance Program, and for other purposes. Section 502 of this bill includes substance abuse and mental health parity for insurance coverage. The bill is currently under consideration by the full Senate. See H.R. 2.
As a result of the November 2008 elections, Democrats have strengthened their majorities in both the Senate and House of Representatives. The most relevant committee-related information for NIDA is listed below.
Senate: In the Senate, primary focus is on the
Committee on Appropriations (Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education; Financial Services; and Commerce, Justice, Science;
Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP);
Committee on the Judiciary; and the Caucus on International Narcotics Control (this is an officially recognized Caucus, established by law in 1985).
House: In the House, primary focus is on the
Committee on Appropriations (Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies; Financial Services; and Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies);
Committee on Energy and Commerce (Subcommittee on Health); and the
Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (Subcommittee on Domestic Policy).
Committee and subcommittee rosters are being finalized. More details will be provided in the May 2009 Report to Council.