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Brain Injury Association of America--Legislative Update

The following legislative update was received from the Brain Injury Association of America.

Dear Advocates,

This is a Policy Corner E-Newsletter Special Edition, bringing you the latest information on congressional appropriations activity impacting federal TBI programs.

Earlier this evening, Monday, November 5, 2007, House leaders filed a conference report that includes the Fiscal Year 2008 Labor-HHS-Education (H.R. 3043) and the Military Construction-VA (H.R. 2642) appropriations bills.  Both bills in this spending package fund TBI services and programs.  The Labor-HHS-Education spending bill funds key federal TBI programs including TBI Act programs, and the TBI Model Systems of Care, and the Military Construction-VA spending bill adds $2.6 billion over the president’s budget request for VA hospitals and clinics, and research into conditions such as TBI and PTSD.

This spending package is scheduled for consideration by the House of Representatives tomorrow, to be followed by Senate consideration later this week. 

However, the funding package is expected to face challenges on a number of levels, as Republicans in both the House and Senate – along with the Administration – object to packaging the bills together, and also to the amount of spending in the Labor-HHS-Education appropriations measure.

The Policy Corner is made possible by the Adam Williams Initiative, Centre for Neuro Skills, and Lakeview Healthcare Systems, Inc. The Brain Injury Association of America gratefully acknowledges their support for legislative action.



Congress Combines Labor-HHS-Education and Military Construction-VA Spending Measures

Earlier tonight, House leaders filed a conference report that includes the Fiscal Year 2008 Labor-HHS-Education (H.R. 3043) and the Military Construction-VA (H.R. 2642) appropriations bills.

Combining both of these bills into one spending measure appears to be an effort by Democratic leadership to force the president to sign the Labor-HHS-Education bill, which he has previously threatened to veto, by pairing it with the popular veterans’ funding bill.

President Bush has vowed to veto the Labor-HHS-Education bill because it would provide $9.8 billion more than he requested in his budget earlier this year. At the same time, he has indicated he would sign the Military Construction-VA bill even though it provides $4 billion more than his request, as long as equivalent cuts are made elsewhere in the Fiscal Year 2008 appropriations process.

The Senate is expected to vote on the conference report later in the week, though it could face a major challenge from Republicans in that chamber.  Senate Republicans could utilize a Senate rule change made earlier this year, which would allow them to force a vote on removing the Military Construction-VA section from the bill because it was not technically part of the Labor-HHS-Education measure passed by either chamber.

If the conference report passes and is sent on to the president, where it will almost certainly face a veto, it will represent the first appropriations bill passed by Congress this year.  The government is currently being funded by a continuing resolution through November 16. 

The House and Senate are expected to pass yet another continuing resolution the week of November 12.   A major appropriations showdown between the White House and Congress is expected to carry over into December.

Details on the specific allocations for TBI programs in the Labor-HHS-Education spending portion of the conference report are not yet available, but will be publicly available shortly. 

In addition, please visit BIAA’s Legislative Action Center and take action right now by contacting your Member of Congress and urging them to vote for the conference report, which contains important TBI funding. Click to visit the Legislative Action Center.

The above news was distributed by Laura Schiebelhut, BIAA Public Affairs Manager, on behalf of the Brain Injury Association of America.

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