The U.S. House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday approved $156 billion in discretionary funding for the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education for fiscal year 2018, with a budget that includes deep cuts to family planning programs.
The spending measure must be approved by the full GOP-controlled House of Representatives.
The Republican-controlled committee’s spending bill slashes $542 million from the budget for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and eliminates $286 million in funding for family planning through the Title X program, which provides health care services for people with low incomes.
Dana Singiser, vice president of public policy and government affairs for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement that the elimination of family planning funding would endanger health and lives.
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“The Labor-HHS Appropriations bill is more extreme than even the Trump administration’s own budget: It would prevent millions of people from coming to Planned Parenthood for basic health care, and completely eliminate Title X—the nation’s only federal program for birth control that 4 million women rely on each year,” Singiser said.
Eliminating funding for the family planning program has been a longtime GOP goal.
The Title X program serves a highly diverse population. Of the 4 million patients who access health care through the program, 21 percent identify as Black and 32 percent identify as Latino, according to HHS data from 2015.
Clare Coleman, president and CEO of the National Family Planning & Reproductive Health Association, said in a statement that Congress has a responsibility to restore funding to the program.
“Without the needed funding to support our nation’s family planning providers, health centers will be forced to close and patients will have nowhere to turn to for care,” Coleman said. “When members of Congress vote to attack Title X, they are voting against the ability for people to stay healthy, care for their families, and support their own communities.”
Funding was also slashed for HHS programs that address health issues for women and people of color. The committee eliminated $6.4 million in funding for the Office of Women’s Health and slashed $11.4 million for the Office of Minority Health.
The committee approved an increase of $1.1 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), even though the White House proposed reducing the NIH budget by $5.8 billion. The Trump administration’s proposal to cut funding for NIH attracted bipartisan opposition.