Defend Title X: An Update on Recent Action in the Last 24 Hours

The House Appropriations Committee yesterday held a full committee markup of the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS) fiscal year (FY) 2016 funding bill that if passed, would eliminate the Title X family planning program. Today’s markup was the next in a series of steps to advance the FY 2016 appropriations bill through the chamber.

During the markup, several family planning champions including Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) offered amendments that would fund Title X at $300 million, a figure identical to that suggested in the president’s FY 2016 budget. Representatives Lowey and DeLauro as well as Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Representative Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL) spoke in support of Title X and should be commended by constituents in their districts for their efforts to protect the program. Both amendments failed on party-line votes.

In anticipation of the markup, White House Office of Management and Budget Director Shaun Donovan yesterday sent a letter to House Appropriations Committee Chairman Tom Cole (R-OK) highlighting the Administration’s serious concerns about the spending bill “which would underfund [these] important investments and includes highly problematic ideologically-motivated provisions.” Director Donovan’s letter specifically noted the elimination of Title X as an area of concern given that it is one of the “critical investments in public health and safety.” This letter is widely viewed as a precursor to a veto threat by the White House.

This morning, the Senate Appropriations Committee is expected to markup its FY 2016 Labor-HHS bill that yesterday passed out of the Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee. The Senate proposal includes a $28.7 million (10%) cut to Title X and would fund the program at $257.8 million if enacted. NFPRHA anticipates that Senate champions led by Ranking Member Patty Murray (D-WA) will introduce a number of amendments including an amendment to raise the spending caps that would allow for a Title X increase.

It is now more important than ever that Congress hear from the field about the importance of protecting Title X. To that end, NFPRHA has developed a variety of tools that can be used by our members to educate elected officials, the public, and the media about the importance of Title X and the impact that funding cuts have already had on the Title X network. These materials are available on the NFPRHA website:

NFPRHA has also developed an action alert that allows family planning advocates to e-mail elected officials about the importance of robust Title X funding and the effects that eliminating the program would have on the health and well-being of millions of women and men. We hope that you will e-mail your elected officials and share the request far and wide. For those who have questions or concerns about your own ability to advocate for Title X due to your organization’s affiliation to the program, NFPRHA’s attorneys have issued a memorandum to provide clarity on your ability to participate in advocacy efforts as an individual. NFPRHA’s attorneys have also drafted an ‘interested parties’ memo for public employees who seek to contact members of Congress in a professional capacity representing state or local agencies.

NFPRHA’s recent communications about the appropriations process have been Title X-focused; however there are several damaging cuts and provisions related to the Affordable Care Act, STD funding, and teen pregnancy prevention funding among others included within both the House and Senate FY 2016 Labor-HHS proposals. Early next week, NFPRHA will provide a full analysis of both FY 2016 proposals that include details about these priorities. NFPRHA will also continue to provide updates as the appropriations process progresses. Please contact Burke Hays at bhays@nfprha.org (202-293-3114 ext. 224) or Jessica Marcella at jmarcella@nfprha.org (202-293-3114 ext. 222) with any questions in the interim.