Last night, the Senate voted 85-7 to advance an $857 billion spending package, which included the Fiscal Year 2019 Defense and Labor, Health and Human Services, Education appropriations bills. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) received a $2.3 billion increase and an expansion of programs to combat the opioid epidemic. Of over 300 proposed amendments, the Senate adopted 50 via unanimous consent, including an amendment by Senator Bob Casey (D-Pa.) that provides funding for the HHS Secretary to establish the Advisory Council to Support Grandparents Raising Grandchildren. Other approved amendments of note include:
- An amendment from Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) to require the Department of Defense to provide testing for elevated blood lead levels at military treatment facilities for babies during their 12-month and 24-month wellness checks or annual physical examinations.
- An amendment from Sens. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) to ensure youth are considered when the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration follows guidance on the medication-assisted treatment for prescription drug and opioid addiction program.
- An amendment by Sens. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to provide $2 million through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Birth Defects, Developmental Disabilities, Disabilities and Health account to improve surveillance of prenatal and newborn health related to opioid use to reduce risks associated with neonatal abstinence syndrome.
- An amendment by Sens. Casey and Todd Young (R-Ind.) to increase amounts available for the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act State grant program.
One proposed amendment by Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) that would have defunded Planned Parenthood was defeated by a 45-48 margin.
The Senate is now expected to enter conference negotiations with the House to reconcile both chambers’ spending bills. It remains unclear if the conferenced bills will reach the floor of either chamber as lawmakers must reach an agreement before funding for the federal government expires on September 30.