WASHINGTON, Sept. 12 The Senate Appropriations Committee issued a report (S.Rpt. 115-150) on legislation (S. 1771) making appropriations for Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2018. The report was advanced by Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., on Sept. 7.
Continues from Part 11 of 12
Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission
SALARIES AND EXPENSES
Appropriations, 2017.................................... $13,225,000
Budget estimate, 2018................................... 12,615,000
Committee recommendation................................ 13,225,000
The Committee recommends $13,225,000 for the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission [OSHRC]. OSHRC serves as a court to resolve disputes between OSHA and employers charged with violations of health and safety standards enforced by OSHA.
Railroad Retirement Board
The Railroad Retirement Board [RRB] administers the retirement/survivor and unemployment/sickness insurance benefit programs for railroad workers and their families under the Railroad Retirement Act and Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act.
DUAL BENEFITS PAYMENTS ACCOUNT
Appropriations, 2017.................................... $25,000,000
Budget estimate, 2018................................... 22,000,000
Committee recommendation................................ 22,000,000
The Committee recommends $22,000,000 for the Dual Benefits Payments Account. This amount includes an estimated $1,000,000 derived from income taxes on vested dual benefits. This appropriation provides for vested dual benefit payments to beneficiaries covered under both the railroad retirement and Social Security systems.
FEDERAL PAYMENTS TO THE RAILROAD RETIREMENT ACCOUNTS
Appropriations, 2017.................................... $150,000
Budget estimate, 2018................................... 150,000
Committee recommendation................................ 150,000
The Committee recommends $150,000 for Federal Payments to the Railroad Retirement Account. These funds reimburse the railroad retirement trust funds for interest earned on non- negotiated checks.
LIMITATION ON ADMINISTRATION
Appropriations, 2017.................................... $113,500,000
Budget estimate, 2018................................... 111,225,000
Committee recommendation................................ 114,500,000
The Committee recommends $114,500,000 for RRB's costs associated with the administration of railroad retirement/ survivor and unemployment/sickness benefit programs. This account limits the amount of funds in the railroad retirement and railroad unemployment insurance trust funds that may be used by the Board for administrative expenses.
The Committee maintains bill language giving RRB the authority to hire new attorneys in the excepted service.
LIMITATION ON THE OFFICE OF THE INSPECTOR GENERAL
Appropriations, 2017.................................... $10,000,000
Budget estimate, 2018................................... 8,437,000
Committee recommendation................................ 11,000,000
The Committee recommends $11,000,000 for the RRB OIG. This Office conducts audits and investigations to protect the integrity of the RRB trust funds and provides comprehensive oversight of all RRB operations and programs.
Social Security Administration
PAYMENTS TO SOCIAL SECURITY TRUST FUNDS
Appropriations, 2017.................................... $11,400,000
Budget estimate, 2018................................... 11,400,000
Committee recommendation................................ 11,400,000
The Committee recommends $11,400,000 in mandatory funds for payments to Social Security trust funds. This account reimburses the Old Age and Survivors Insurance [OASI] and Disability Insurance [DI] trust funds for special payments to certain uninsured persons, costs incurred administering pension reform activities, and the value of the interest for benefit checks issued but not negotiated. This appropriation restores the trust funds to the same financial position they would have been in had they not borne these costs and they were properly charged to general revenues.
SUPPLEMENTAL SECURITY INCOME PROGRAM
Appropriations, 2017.................................... $43,618,163,000
Budget estimate, 2018................................... 38,556,526,000
Committee recommendation................................ 38,450,927,000
The Committee recommends $38,450,927,000 in fiscal year 2018 mandatory funds for the SSI program. This is in addition to the $15,000,000,000 provided in the fiscal year 2017 appropriations act for the first quarter of fiscal year 2018. In addition, the Committee recommends $19,500,000,000 in advance funding for the first quarter of fiscal year 2019. The SSI program guarantees a minimum level of income to individuals who are disabled, blind, or older than age 65, and meet certain income and resource limitations.
Federal Benefit Payments
The Committee recommendation includes a fiscal year 2018 program level of $48,236,000,000 for Federal benefit payments. This will support an average monthly benefit of approximately $569 for 8,100,000 recipients.
The Committee recommendation includes $159,000,000 in new mandatory budget authority for beneficiary services.
These funds reimburse vocational rehabilitation [VR] agencies for successfully rehabilitating disabled SSI recipients by helping them achieve and sustain productive, self-supporting work activity. Funds also support the Ticket to Work program that provides SSI recipients with a ticket to offer employment networks [ENs], including VR agencies, in exchange for employment and support services. Instead of reimbursing ENs for specific services, the Ticket to Work program pays ENs based on recipients achieving certain milestones and outcomes.
Research and Demonstration
The Committee recommendation includes $101,000,000 in mandatory funds for research and demonstration projects conducted under sections 1110, 1115, and 1144 of the Social Security Act. These funds support a variety of research and demonstration projects designed to improve the disability process, promote self-sufficiency and assist individuals in returning to work, encourage savings and retirement planning through financial literacy, and generally provide analytical and data resources for use in preparing and reviewing policy proposals.
The Committee recommendation includes $4,954,927,000 for SSI program administrative expenses. This appropriation funds the SSI program's share of administrative expenses incurred through the Limitation on Administrative Expenses [LAE] account.
LIMITATION ON ADMINISTRATIVE EXPENSES
Appropriations, 2017.................................... $12,480,945,000
Budget estimate, 2018................................... 12,453,000,000
Committee recommendation................................ 11,988,945,000
Due to budget constraints, the Committee recommends $11,988,945,000 for SSA's LAE account. This account provides resources for SSA to administer the OASI, DI, and SSI programs, and to support CMS in administering the Medicare program. The LAE account is funded by the Social Security and Medicare trust funds for their share of administrative expenses, the general fund for the SSI program's share of administrative expenses, and applicable user fees. These funds support core administrative activities including processing retirement and disability claims, conducting hearings to review disability determination appeals, issuing Social Security numbers and cards, processing individuals' annual earnings information, and ensuring the integrity of Social Security programs through continuing disability reviews [CDR] and SSI redeterminations of non-medical eligibility.
The Committee recommendation includes $1,735,000,000 for program integrity activities, including CDRs and SSI redeterminations of non-medical eligibility. This includes $273,000,000 in base funding and $1,462,000,000 in cap adjustment funding allowed under the Budget Control Act [BCA]. The Committee recommendation is a $84,000,000 decrease from the fiscal year 2017 funding level, as specified in the BCA. Combined, these activities are estimated to save approximately $9,828,000,000 over 10 years for the Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid programs by preventing waste, fraud, abuse, and improper payments.
The Committee is supportive of efforts to reduce improper payments and improve program integrity in the SSA's disability and Supplemental Security Income benefits programs. As part of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, Congress empowered SSA to enter into an information exchange with a payroll data provider to prevent improper payments of such benefits. These programs have proven to be beneficial in reducing improper payments for other Federal and State benefits programs, and the Committee urges SSA to prioritize the utilization of these opportunities.
Within the funds provided to SSA for continuing disability reviews under titles II and XVI of the Social Security Act and conducting redeterminations of eligibility, the Committee encourages SSA to utilize all of the tools available to it from commercial and non-commercial entities that collect and maintain data regarding employment and wages, to ensure that disability and SSI benefits are properly paid and to reduce fraud and abuse. The Committee requests an update in the fiscal year 2019 CJ on the progress that SSA has made in utilizing additional tools to identify improper payments, as well as progress it has made in those efforts.
Disability Insurance.The Committee recognizes that the purpose of the Ticket to Work and Self-Sufficiency Program [Ticket Program] is to provide the assistance disabled beneficiaries need to return to work. The Committee is aware that the SSA OIG found that employment impacts may have been similar for beneficiaries, whether they had participated in the Ticket Program or other employment assistance programs. The Committee directs SSA to submit a report no later than 90 days after the enactment of this act determining if the Ticket Program is having the desired measurable results and if it is or is not cost effective to continue the Ticket Program.
Medical Vocational Guidelines.The Committee is dedicated to ensuring that the disabled have access to needed benefits, and strongly encourages SSA to work with us to achieve that goal. The Committee continues to be concerned that SSA uses outdated rules to determine whether or not a claimant meets SSA's definition of disability. The Committee is encouraged by SSA's indication that they are beginning the regulatory process, having already received input from the National Disability Forum, the National Institute of Medicine, as well as various aging and employment experts. These initial steps are well received, as Congress continues to work with the Administration to modernize the outdated vocational guidelines into a structure that reflects the 21st century labor market. However, SSA officials have indicated to GAO that the complete update of the occupational grid is not expected to be completed until 2024, and at a cost of $178,000,000. As this is the first significant overhaul of the grid in nearly 40 years, the Committee requests SSA to submit, no later than 60 days after the enactment of this act, a report on its ongoing efforts to update the grid, including the latest status of the Occupational Information System joint project with the Department of Labor. In addition, the report shall include a study assessing the feasibility of maintaining a continuous update of the medical vocational guidelines every 10 years. In conjunction with the agency's release of findings, the Committee directs SSA, in coordination with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, to brief the Committee on the status and progress of the ongoing update to the Medical Vocational Guidelines no later than 90 days after the enactment of this act.
Reducing the Hearing Backlog.The Committee is aware of the discord between SSA and the ALJ community regarding the implementation of part of SSA's Compassionate and Responsive Service [CARES] plan to reduce the significant hearing backlog at the agency. Specifically, there is concern regarding the Administration's hiring of Administrative Appeals Judges for non-disability and remanded cases. The Committee recognizes the need for further discussion regarding this matter and encourages SSA to engage with the ALJ community and appropriate stakeholders to find innovative solutions to address hearing wait times, keeping in mind the goal of reducing the backlog to serve the over 1,100,000 individuals and their families awaiting a hearing decision.
Social Security Advisory Board.The Committee recommendation includes not less than $2,300,000 for the Social Security Advisory Board. This board advises the Commissioner of Social Security and makes recommendations to Congress and the President on policies relating to the OASI, DI, and SSI programs.
User Fees.Within the total for LAE, the Committee recommendation includes up to $119,000,000 for administrative activities funded from user fees. This includes $118,000,000 in fees collected from States that request SSA to administer State SSI supplementary payments and up to $1,000,000 from fees collected from non-attorney claimant representatives.
Work Incentives Planning and Assistance [WIPA] and Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security [PABSS].The Committee recommendation includes $23,000,000 for WIPA and $7,000,000 for PABSS, the same as the comparable fiscal year 2017 levels, respectively. These programs provide valuable services to help Social Security disability beneficiaries return to work.
OFFICE OF INSPECTOR GENERAL
Appropriations, 2017.................................... $105,500,000
Budget estimate, 2018................................... 105,500,000
Committee recommendation................................ 105,500,000
The Committee recommends $105,500,000 for SSA's OIG. This includes $75,500,000 funded from the OASI and DI trust funds for those programs' share of OIG's expenses and $30,000,000 funded from general revenues for the SSI program's share of expenses.
Section 501. The bill continues a provision authorizing transfers of unexpended balances.
Section 502. The bill continues a provision limiting funding to 1-year availability unless otherwise specified.
Section 503. The bill continues a provision limiting lobbying and related activities.
Section 504. The bill continues a provision limiting official representation expenses.
Section 505. The bill continues a provision clarifying Federal funding as a component of State and local grant funds.
Sections 506 and 507. The bill continues provisions limiting the use of funds for abortion.
Section 508. The bill continues a provision restricting human embryo research.
Section 509. The bill continues a provision limiting the use of funds for promotion of legalization of controlled substances.
Section 510. The bill continues a provision prohibiting the use of funds to promulgate regulations regarding the individual health identifier.
Section 511. The bill continues a provision limiting the use of funds to enter into or review contracts with entities subject to the requirement in section 4212(d) of title 38, United States Code, if the report required by that section has not been submitted.
Section 512. The bill continues a provision prohibiting the transfer of funds made available in this act to any department, agency, or instrumentality of the U.S. Government, except as otherwise provided by this or any other act.
Section 513. The bill continues a provision prohibiting Federal funding in this act for libraries unless they are in compliance with the Children's Internet Protection Act.
Section 514. The bill continues a provision maintaining a procedure for reprogramming of funds.
Section 515. The bill continues a provision prohibiting candidates for scientific advisory committees from having to disclose their political activities.
Section 516. The bill continues a provision requiring each department and related agency to submit an operating plan.
Section 517. The bill continues a provision requiring the Secretaries of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education to submit a report on the number and amounts of contracts, grants, and cooperative agreements awarded by the Departments on a noncompetitive basis.
Section 518. The bill continues a provision prohibiting SSA from processing earnings for work performed under a fraudulent social security number if based on a conviction for a violation under section 208(a)(6) or (7) of the Social Security Act.
Section 519. The bill continues a provision prohibiting SSA from establishing a totalization agreement with Mexico.
Section 520. The bill continues a provision regarding funding for programs that carry out distribution of sterile needles or syringes.
Section 521. The bill continues a provision requiring computer networks to block pornography.
Section 522. The bill continues a provision prohibiting funding from going to the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now [ACORN], or any of its affiliates, subsidiaries, allied organizations, or successors.
Section 523. The bill continues a provision related to reporting requirements for conference spending.
Section 524. The bill continues a provision related to advertisement costs.
Section 525. The bill continues a provision on Performance Partnerships.
Section 526. The bill continues a provision regarding reporting status of balances of appropriations.
Section 527. The bill continues a provision rescinding funds from the Independent Payment Advisory Board.
Section 528. The bill modifies a provision rescinding funds from the Children's Health Insurance Program Performance Bonus Fund.
Section 529. The bill modifies a provision rescinding funds from the Children's Health Insurance Program regarding State allotments.
Section 530. The bill continues a provision rescinding funds from the Children's Health Insurance Program child enrollment contingency fund.
COMPLIANCE WITH PARAGRAPH 7, RULE XVI, OF THE STANDING RULES OF THE SENATE
Paragraph 7 of rule XVI requires that Committee reports on general appropriations bills identify each Committee amendment to the House bill "which proposes an item of appropriation which is not made to carry out the provisions of an existing law, a treaty stipulation, or an act or resolution previously passed by the Senate during that session."
The Committee is filing an original bill, which is not covered under this rule, but reports this information in the spirit of full disclosure.
The Committee recommends funding for the following programs and activities which currently lack authorization: Institute of Education Sciences; parts C and D of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act; Nurse Education Loan Repayment; Education and Training Related to Geriatrics; Mental and Behavioral Health Training; Children's Hospital Graduate Medical Education; Title XVII of the PHS Act; Ryan White CARE Act; Universal Newborn Hearing Screening; Organ Transplantation; Family Planning; Rural Health programs; Traumatic Brain Injury programs; Combating Autism Act; Public Health Improvement Act; Healthy Start; Telehealth; Health Professions Education Partnership Act; Children's Health Act; Women's Health Research and Prevention Amendments of 1998; Birth Defects Prevention, Preventive Health Amendments of 1993; Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services programs; Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program; Refugee and Entrant Assistance programs (except for Victims of Trafficking); Head Start; Runaway and Homeless Youth programs; Adoption Incentives; Developmental Disabilities programs; Voting Access for Individuals with Disabilities; Native American Programs; Community Services Block Grant Act programs; National Institutes of Health; Assets for Independence; Alzheimer's Disease Demonstration Grants; Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion; YouthBuild Transfer Act; Assistive Technology Act; Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Improvement Act; Corporation for Public Broadcasting; National Council on Disability; Older Americans Act; Second Chance Act; Work Incentive Planning and Assistance; and Protection and Advocacy for Beneficiaries of Social Security.
COMPLIANCE WITH PARAGRAPH 7(c), RULE XXVI OF THE STANDING RULES OF THE SENATE
Pursuant to paragraph 7(c) of rule XXVI, on September 7, 2017, the Committee ordered favorably reported an original bill (S. 1771) making appropriations for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2018, and for other purposes, provided, that the bill be subject to amendment and that the bill be consistent with its subcommittee funding guidance, and provided that the Chairman of the Committee or his designee be authorized to offer the substance of the original bill as a Committee amendment in the nature of a substitute to the House companion measure, by a recorded vote of 29-2, a quorum being present. The vote was as follows:
Yeas ..... Nays
Chairman Cochran ..... Mr. Lankford
Mr. McConnell ..... Mr. Daines
Mr. Van Hollen
COMPLIANCE WITH PARAGRAPH 12, RULE XXVI OF THE STANDING RULES OF THE SENATE
Paragraph 12 of rule XXVI requires that Committee reports on a bill or a joint resolution repealing or amending any statute include "(a) the text of the statute or part thereof which is proposed to be repealed; and (b) a comparative print of that part of the bill or joint resolution making the amendment and of the statute or part thereof proposed to be amended, showing by stricken through type and italics, parallel columns, or other appropriate typographical devices the omissions and insertions which would be made by the bill or joint resolution if enacted in the form recommended by the committee."
In compliance with this rule, changes in existing law proposed to be made by the bill are shown as follows: existing law to be omitted is enclosed in black brackets; new matter is printed in italic; and existing law in which no change is proposed is shown in roman.
CHAPTER 28HIGHER EDUCATION RESOURCES AND STUDENT ASSISTANCE
BUDGETARY IMPACT OF BILL
PREPARED IN CONSULTATION WITH THE CONGRESSIONAL BUDGET OFFICE PURSUANT TO SEC. 308(A), PUBLIC LAW 93-344, AS AMENDED
[In millions of dollars]
COMPARATIVE STATEMENT OF NEW BUDGET (OBLIGATIONAL) AUTHORITY FOR FISCAL YEAR 2017 AND BUDGET ESTIMATES AND AMOUNTS RECOMMENDED IN THE BILL FOR FISCAL YEAR 2018
[In thousands of dollars]
Myron Struck, editor, Targeted News Service, Springfield, Va., 703/304-1897; email@example.com; http://www.targetednews.com