A Budgeting Blunder

As you may have heard, late last week the Trump Administration sent a chart to Appropriators on Capitol Hill with proposed domestic spending cuts for the remainder of Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 (which runs through September 30, 2017). The current continuing resolution, which funds the government at FY 2016 levels, expires on April 28. Among many cuts, the chart includes a proposed cut of $51 million to the Teen Pregnancy Prevention (TPP) Program for FY 2017.

This article from Politico offers a good overview, as well as a link to the actual chart. 

In its explanation justifying the cut, the Administration states:

“The TPP program is a competitive grant program that supports evidence-based innovative approaches to teen pregnancy prevention. This level would reduce funding to current TPP grantees by about half. State and local entities can use the evidence base built by the TPP program in their efforts to continue to reduce teenage pregnancy rates.”

So what does this mean? While nothing is certain, it is likely too late in the FY 2017 appropriations process for Congress to implement the cuts requested by the Administration. However, it is a strong signal to Congress of what programs the Administration is willing to cut and as such has implications not only for the current debate on the remainder of FY 2017 funding, but for FY 2018 appropriations. Ultimately, it is Congress that controls the purse strings and that’s why it is more important than ever to make sure your members of Congress know the great work your TPP Program grants are doing. 

Now is the time to educate policymakers about the great work your project is doing and if you can, to advocate for at least $101 million (current level funding) for the TPP Program. Please see our What You Can Do page for more information as well as a sample advocacy letter, sample education letter, talking points, polling and more resources.

You also may want to make the following points in responding to this particular proposed cut: 

  • As the Administration recognizes in its chart, the TPP Program supports evidence-based approaches to teen pregnancy prevention. In fact, independent experts have lauded the program as a prime example of high quality evidence-based policymaking. We need more federal funding tied to strong evidence, evaluation, and innovation, not less.
  • To cut the TPP Program by 50% when we are more than halfway through the fiscal year would pull the rug out from underneath vulnerable youth, all in the name of $51 million—a minuscule amount of savings. In fact, at its current funding level of $101 million, the TPP Program represents .06% (that’s less than 1/10 of 1%) of total Labor, Health and Human Services and Education appropriations.

The proposed 50% cut to the TPP Program is like building a skyscraper and then halfway through the construction process, abandoning the project. The very evidence base the Administration says state and local entities can use in their efforts is maintained by the replication, innovation and evaluation of teen pregnancy prevention models over five-year grants. Stripping funding halfway through the grant cycle means the federal government will have spent millions, yet not seen the effort through in order to learn from the results—exactly the opposite of what a federal commitment to evidence looks like.

Authored by: Rachel Fey

Rachel Fey is the Director of Public Policy at The National Campaign where she is responsible for the organization’s health policy work, including implementation of the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid family planning, and the Title X Family Planning Program. She also focuses on health disparities and budget and appropriations, specifically funding for teen pregnancy prevention programs and public funding for family planning.

Prior to joining The National Campaign, Ms. Fey was Manager of Government Relations at the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association (NFPRHA) where she worked on key provisions of the Affordable Care Act and the Medicaid and Title X Family Planning programs. Recognized in 2013 by the Professional Women in Advocacy Conference as an Up and Coming Practitioner, Ms. Fey has over a decade’s experience working in the field of non-profit reproductive health, including for the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals (ARHP) and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Center for Communication Programs.

Ms. Fey holds a BA in International Studies from the Johns Hopkins University.  She lives in Washington, DC and stamps her passport as often as possible.

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