Funding for CSWE Minority Fellowship Program Restored in House and Senate Appropriations Bills

7/10/2008

Over the last few weeks, the Appropriations Committees in the House of Representatives and the Senate have been hard at work on their fiscal year (FY) 2009 appropriations bills, which provide funding for all federal agencies and programs for the fiscal year beginning on October 1.

As you know, CSWE administers a Minority Fellowship Program (MFP) which for several years has been supported in part by an annual grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). In addition to CSWE, SAMHSA also provides MFP funding to the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Nurses Association, and the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapists. While the SAMHSA program was funded at a total of $3.8 million in FY 2008 (current year), the President’s FY 2009 budget request to Congress did not include funding for the MFP. 

Earlier this spring, CSWE, in coordination with its partners listed above, actively advocated on Capitol Hill for restoration of these funds for FY 2009. Due in large part to CSWE’s advocacy activities, both the House and Senate appropriations bills include restored funding for the SAMHSA MFP for FY 2009. Here are the details:

The Senate bill includes $3.8 million or flat funding for the program. In addition, the report accompanying the Senate bill includes the following language regarding the MFP: 

“The Committee recommendation includes sufficient funding to continue the minority fellowship program, which has been instrumental in addressing the shortage of mental health services for racial and ethnic minorities. The administration did not request funding for this activity.” 

The House bill includes $4.36 million for the SAMHSA MFP, an increase of $555,000 or 14.5 percent over the current (FY 2008) level. In addition, the report accompanying the House bill includes language requesting that SAMHSA include professional counselors as eligible participants in the MFP. It is likely that this request accounts for the added increase in funding in the House bill. Nonetheless, funding for the program would be restored in the House bill as in the Senate bill. 

What’s Next? 

The House and Senate appear to be in agreement on the importance of continued funding for the SAMHSA MFP. Restoration of these funds in both bills should be seen as a major win for CSWE and its Minority Fellowship Program. However, Congress is still a long way off from finishing its work on the FY 2009 appropriations bills; it could still be some time before a final budget is in place for the SAMHSA MFP. Given the upcoming elections, Congress may choose to put off passing many/most of its appropriations bills until the new President and Congress are sworn in this January.

Under that scenario, the Congress will have to pass a continuing resolution (CR) to continue funding for federal agencies and programs after the new fiscal year has started on October 1 until the FY 2009 appropriations bills are passed by Congress and signed into law by the President. It is unclear at this time what such a delay would mean for FY 2009 MFP funding.

CSWE will continue to keep you updated on the status of the SAMHSA MFP and its efforts to ensure funding for the program in FY 2009. If you have any questions about this or any other CSWE Public Policy activity, please e-mail CSWE’s government relations staff (wendy@lewis-burke.com).

Contact: CSWE’s government relations staff