Bipartisan Harkin-Specter Budget Amendment Passes the Senate!

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) today praised passage of his Budget Amendment to restore critical resources for key health, human services, education, job training, and human services initiatives. The President has slashed funding for these initiatives-funded each year through the Labor HHS Education Appropriations measure- over the past two years.  The President’s proposed FY07 Budget funds the Departments of Health and Human Services, Education and Labor $7 billion less than two years ago, threatening initiatives that keep America competitive and provide a basic safety net for our most vulnerable citizens.  The amendment, offered by Harkin and Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) adds $7 billion to these departments, restoring funding to the FY05 levels.  Specter and Harkin are the chairman and ranking Democrat respectively on the Senate panel that funds health care, education and labor initiatives.

“Amidst his frenzy of new spending and tax cuts for the wealthy, the President says that somebody has got to sacrifice.  So his budget cuts funding for 17 of the 18 institutes at the National Institutes of Health.  It includes the largest cut to education in the 26-year history of the Department of Education.  It cuts the number of children served by the Head Start program.  It even cuts the Meals on Wheels program,” said Harkin.  “The passage of this amendment has sent the President a powerful message that these misguided priorities will no longer be tolerated by the American people or by Congress.”

The President’s proposed Budget threatened key health care, education and job training initiatives including:

National Institutes of Health:  The President’s budget cuts funding for 18 of the 19 institutes at NIH.  Funding for cancer research would be cut by $40 million.

Human Services for the Poor:  The President’s budget cuts the Social Services Block Grant by $500 million and completely eliminates the Community Services Block Grant.

Education Programs:  The President’s budget eliminates 42 programs, including all the vocational and technical education programs, Educational Technology State Grants, GEAR UP, Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities State Grants, TRIO Talent Search and Upward Bound.

Student Financial Aid:  The President’s budget freezes the maximum Pell Grant award at $4,050, the same amount as four years ago, while tuition costs have raised dramatically.