The One Voice Against Cancer coalition held a post-election conference call on Thursday afternoon to discuss the impact the election had upon the FY03 appropriations process and the impending lame duck session.
Background: Despite the change in control of the U.S. Senate and Republicans gaining additional seats in the House of Representatives, the Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee will remain intact in the 108th Congress. We suspect that the same bi-partisan cooperation of Subcommittee members and their staff will continue.
Nevertheless, Congress returns on Tuesday, November 12 to hold organizational meetings and elect new leadership for the 108th Congress. With the current continuing resolution funding the federal government through Friday, November 22, both the House and Senate will have to act in the next couple of weeks to determine how to deal with the FY03 budget.
The Republican Senate victories in Missouri and Minnesota have cast doubt over the lame duck session. Although Democrats will still have control of the Senate when the lame duck session begins next week, certification of the Missouri race will then change control of the U.S. Senate to the Republicans. Governor Jesse Ventura in Minnesota has appointed an independent to fill Senator Paul Wellstone's Senate seat; however, Senator-elect Norm Coleman could possibly be sworn in early during the lame duck session.
Under these circumstances, it becomes more and more likely that both sides of the aisle will work toward a quick adjournment as the current continuing resolution runs out on November 22. Senator Lott, who now becomes the Senate Majority Leader, already conceded that "we did not get a budget accomplished this year" indicating that little or no progress will be made on the FY 03 appropriations bills during the lame duck session.
A long-term continuing resolution is the most likely scenario, although its length is unclear. Operating the federal government under a continuing
resolution will most likely freeze FY03 spending at FY02 levels. The doubling of the National Institutes of Health budget would not be completed. At a minimum, a long term continuing resolution will last until March. Private discussions with Congressional staff indicate a possible year-long continuing resolution may be in the works and may be supported by the new Republican leadership.
As Congress reconvenes in the coming days, it is imperative that One Voice advocates across the country be in contact with their Members of Congress to impress upon them the consequences of a long-term continuing resolution. Individual organizations need to provide concrete examples of the programs and the research that will be stalled if cancer funding continues at last year's levels.
Message: One Voice Against Cancer opposes any long-term continuing resolution for the Department of Health and Human Services. If your Member of Congress and, or Senators serve on the House or Senate Appropriations Committee, thank them for their work and their attempts to get an appropriations bill passed. However, it is important to remind all Congressional Members that a continuing resolution will have two adverse effects on cancer programs:
- DOUBLING THE NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH BUDGET IS NOT POSSIBLE UNDER A CONTINUING RESOLUTION
Congress and two Administrations have supported a doubling of the National Institutes of Health budget over the past five years. This promise will be broken to hundreds of thousands of people affected by cancer if Congress decides to pass a long-term continuing resolution or even a year-lon continuing resolution.
- FUNDING FOR THE CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION COULD BE CUT FOR CANCER PROGRAMS
This year's funding increases suggested in the President's budget for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were allocated for bio-terrorism-not for chronic diseases. The application of cancer research through improved prevention, early detection, diagnosis and treatments is the vital link that ultimately saves lives. CDC funding must be increased this year for these critically-needed programs.
Please contact your Member of Congress to share your concerns about cancer funding.