The House and Senate Appropriations Bills Mess with Success: A Statement from The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy

Jun 26 2015

(Washington, DC)—This week both the Senate and House Appropriations Committees passed their versions of the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education (LHHS) spending bill for FY 2016, with devastating cuts to proven programs that reduce teen and unplanned pregnancy. Specifically:

  • The Senate bill slashes funding for the evidence-based Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program (TPPP) from $101 million to $20 million—an 80 percent cut. This funding has served over half a million teens with programs that have been rigorously evaluated and proven to change behavior. At the same time, the Senate bill increases funding for abstinence-only programs, without any meaningful evidence criteria, from $5 million to $20 million—a 300 percent increase.
  • The Senate bill also cuts funding for the Title X Family Planning Program, which provides contraception to millions of low income women and men, from $286 million to $258 million, a 10 percent cut on top of significant reductions in recent years.
  • The House bill eliminates all $101 million in funding for the evidence-based TPPP. Instead the bill provides $10 million for “age appropriate” teen pregnancy prevention programs and $10 million for “sexual risk avoidance” programs, defined as “refraining from non-marital sexual activity.” Although the funding for “sexual risk avoidance” references evidence, the criteria used to demonstrate effectiveness are far weaker than those in the eliminated TPPP program
  • The House bill also eliminates all $286 million in funding for the Title X Family Planning Program.

In both the House and Senate committee deliberations, several amendments were offered that would have restored funding for TPPP and Title X. The amendments offered by Democrats failed on party line votes.  One amendment offered by Republican senators to restore funding for Title X received some bipartisan support, but was defeated in part because of concerns that funding for other important programs within the Department of Health and Human Services would be used to pay for it.

“The devastating cuts in these bills would take the nation backwards in our efforts to reduce teen and unplanned pregnancy,” said Sarah Brown, CEO of The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy.  “At a time when there is growing bipartisan interest in funding programs that have evidence of impact, and in focusing public dollars on results, it is outrageous that Congress would dismantle the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program, hailed by experts as a gold standard of evidence based policymaking. Recognizing the fiscal pressures facing Congress, let’s remember that the cost of TPPP and Title X is modest compared to the overall budget and the payoff—both fiscal and in human capital—is immense.”

“The teen birth rate declined a dramatic 29 percent between 2010 and 2014, which is about twice as large as the progress in any other four-year period in the last two decades. While there are certainly many factors that contribute to this success, it is clear that the pace of progress has accelerated dramatically since TPPP’s inception. The program has played a leading role in the growing national, state, and local commitment to using proven approaches to reduce teen pregnancy. Why mess with success? We urge Congress to work together to continue full funding for the proven TPPP and Title X programs. Doing so is a cost-effective way to double down rather than give up on improving the well-being of children and families.” 

About The National Campaign. The National Campaign is a private, nonprofit organization that seeks to improve the lives and future prospects of children and families by preventing teen and unplanned pregnancy. Please visit www.TheNationalCampaign.org to find out more.

A group of teenage girls