Congress Pushes Back on HPP, PHEP, EMPG Cuts

Congress Pushes Back on HPP, PHEP, EMPG Cuts

Congress is pushing back on the President's proposed funding cuts to key programs that drive state and local disaster mitigation and preparedness for Nation's emergency management, public health, and the healthcare systems.

Both the Homeland Security Sub-committee and the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Sub-committee have rebuked the White House on cuts to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

This news brings a sigh of relief to state and local disaster preparedness and response professionals that are highly, if not fully, dependent on these funds to maintain necessary public safety programs. Though there are other related programs that are in line for a reprieve from the cuts, today we're looking at six:

  • Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP)
  • Public Health Emergency Preparedness Program (PHEP)
  • Emergency Management Performance Grant Program (EMPG)
  • State Homeland Security Grant Program (SHSGP)
  • Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI)
  • Pre-disaster Mitigation Grant (PDMG)

Yes, I did say in line. So what do I mean by that? Well, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations is comprised of 12 sub-committees responsible for drafting 12 spending bills. These committees hold hearings on the budget request from their assigned agencies, members offer amendments, votes are held, and ultimately a draft funding bill is ratified to go before the full House and Senate for potential amendment and enactment.

Yeah, it's just a bill on Capitol Hill…

So why do you care about Schoolhouse Rock? Well, HPP and PHEP funding are within in the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) budget, which is heard before the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Sub-committee. And the EMPG, SHSGP, UASI, and PDMG, administered by FEMA, are heard before the Homeland Security Sub-committee.

Know that this push-back is only a draft ratified by a sub committee – albeit a committee of much power and influence – and ratification by the full House and Senate is required for it to become law. Soooo… now might be a good time to get on your horse and confer with your Senators and Representatives to let them know how you feel. Just saying.

It's important to note that, as I laid out in my last post, ASPR Cutting 19 States Out of HPP, even though the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 budget begins October 1, 2017, preparedness funding obligated to these programs before this date aare actually FY 2017 appropriations. This means:

  • PHEP: Is funded from July1, 2017-June 30, 2018 (Budget Period 1) with FY17 appropriations.
  • SHSGP & UASI: Is funded from September 1, 2017- August 31, 2018 (Period of Performance 1) with FY17 appropriations.
  • PDMG: Is funded from August 14, 2017- August 13, 2018 (Period of Performance 1) with FY17 appropriations.
  • EMPG: Does not yet appear to be funded for FY18, as it's Period of Performance is October 1, 2017-September 30, 2018, same as the Federal Fiscal year.

Before moving onto the Committees' recommended funding levels, let me update you on ASPR's proposal to cut 19 states out of HPP and usurp state administrative agencies through a competitive process open to universities and nonprofits.

aspr's grand plan

A few weeks back in my post, ASPR Cutting 19 States Out of HPP, I explained that ASPR's proposed budget cuts $24 Million from the HPP cooperative agreement. Sure, that would sting a bit, but it would not in-itself be catastrophic. In this scenario, the catastrophic hit is reserved for the 19 states they've slated for an HPP eclipse. Make that HPP extinction, beacuse they are not proposing a short-term hiatus.

Because there would be fewer awardees, the overarching 10% cut would, for-the-most-part, yield increases. But give credit to most the state preparedness directors for uniting under a letter of solidarity sent to then Acting Assistant Secretary, George Korch. The letter requested that no states be cut from the program. Many who signed on did so in deference to the greater good.

It's important to note that ASPR cannot make the changes they propose unilaterally. They do not have the authority to enact agency policy that violates law. The current funding formula – that requires ASPR to offer funding to 62 awardees – is within the Pandemic and All Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act (PAHPRA). Any change would require Congress to amend PAHPRA or enact a new law that supersedes it.

Sources in D.C. say the current funding formula language was crucial to getting enough votes in Congress pass the original Pandemic and All Hazards Preparedness Act (PAHPA) in 2007, and that the temperature was the same when PAHPRA was enacted in 2013. Those I've spoken to say it is highly unlikely ASPR's vision will see the light of day.

Given that the funding bill approved by the Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Sub-committee has no language overriding PAHPRA – absent a ratified amendment from the floor to do so– ASPR's dream of cutting 19 states out and opening competition for the cooperative agreement is dead in the water– for now.

Did I mention that PAHPRA is up for reauthorization in 2018? Did I mention that now might be a good time to get on your horse and confer with you Senators and Representatives to let them know how you feel?

the numbers

For the six aforementioned programs, the Committees have ratified draft budgets that restore funding to three and increase funding for the other three.

Following is the budget numbers ratified for each of the programs followed by a few tidbits of interest from the recommendations stated in the reports that accompany the draft funding bills to be considered by the House and Senate.

••• FY16 FY17 CR FY18 President FY18 Approp. Cmte. FY18 Enacted
EMPG $350,000,000 $349,335,000 $279,335,000 $350,000,000 ???
HPP $228,500,000 $228,500,000 $204,500,000 $228,500,000 ???
PHEP $615,750,000 $658,745,000 $551,000,000 $680,000,000 ???
PDMG $85,677,000 $86,077,000 $39,016,000 $100,000,000 ???
SHSGP $467,000,000 $466,112,000 $349,362,000 $467,000,000 ???
UASI $599,985,000 $598,844,000 $448,884,000 $630,000,000 ???



The Committee provides $1,424,928,000 for activities administered by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR). This amount is $28,300,000 above the fiscal year 2017 enacted level and $55,883,000 above the fiscal year 2018 budget request. ASPR is responsible for coordinating national policies and plans for medical and public health preparedness and for administering a variety of public health preparedness programs, including the National Disaster Medical System, the Hospital Preparedness Cooperative Agreement Grants Program, Project Bio- Shield, and the Office of Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.

Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) – The Committee remains committed to ensuring the nation is adequately prepared against CBRN attacks. Public-private partner- ships to develop MCMs are required to successfully prepare and de- fend the nation against these threats. The Committee supports the goal of market development where there is little or no commercial market. The funds allow for sustained management and funding of critical priorities, facilitate flexible and rapid response to emerging threats, and prevent the loss of resources from year to year, especially when the country is facing such tight budget constraints while threats persist.

Pathogen Reduction Technology —The Committee commends BARDA for taking the critical steps of supporting FDA-approved pathogen reduction technology in U.S. blood centers to ensure the safety of blood products being provided to patients and specifically for patients at risk for exposure to emerging pathogens. The Com- mittee urges BARDA to continue funding the development of pathogen reduction technology. 

The Committee continues a provision permitting the Secretary of HHS to transfer up to one percent of any discretionary funds between appropriations, provided that no appropriation is in- creased by more than three percent by any such transfer to meet emergency needs. Notification must be provided to the Committees on Appropriations at the program, project, and activity level in ad- vance of any such transfer

Note: HPP justification is not broken out into a dedicated section within the report


The Committee recommends $3,003,798,000 for FA, $939,668,000 above the amount requested and $20,340,000 above the amount provided in fiscal year 2017. The recommendation restores the cuts proposed in the budget request to FEMA’s grants and education, training, and exercise programs to support first responders.The Committee recommends $2,734,531,000 for Grants, $833,668,000 above the amount requested and $25,000,000 above the amount provided in fiscal year 2017.

Note: EMPG justification is not broken out into a dedicated section within the report


The Committee recommends $1,450,000,000 for Public Health Preparedness and Response (PHPR), which is $45,000,000 above the fiscal year 2017 enacted level and $184,000,000 above the fiscal year 2018 budget request. CDC distributes grants to State, local, Tribal, and territorial public health agencies. The PHPR supports capabilities and infrastructure upgrades to respond to all potential hazards, including acts of terrorism, infectious disease outbreaks, or natural disasters. Funds are used for needs assessments, response planning, support training, strengthening epidemiology and surveillance, and upgrades for laboratory capacity and communications systems. Activities support the establishment of procedures and response systems, and build the infrastructure necessary to respond to a variety of disaster scenarios.

Note: EMPG justification is not broken out into a dedicated section within the report


The Committee recommends $100,000,000 for the National Predisaster Mitigation Fund (PDM), $60,984,000 above the amount requested and the same as the amount provided in fiscal year 2017. PDM grants are one of the only sources of federal mitigation funding for commu-nities prior to a disaster. It has been repeatedly demonstrated that these types of investments lead to significant savings by mitigating risks, reducing damage from future disasters, and lowering flood insurance premiums.


The Committee recommends $467,000,000 for the State Homeland Security Grant Pro- gram (SHSGP), $117,638,000 above the amount requested and the same as the amount provided in fiscal year 2017.

Within the funds available for SHSGP, the Committee recommends $55,000,000 for Operation Stonegarden grants, which should be awarded and administered consistent with direction in prior year reports. As part of the fiscal year 2019 budget request, FEMA shall include performance measures for Operation Stonegarden that clearly demonstrate the extent to which funding for the program can be tied to progress in achieving program goals, along with estimates for how proposed funding would contribute to additional progress. 


The Committee recommends $630,000,000 for the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI), $181,156,000 above the amount requested and $25,000,000 above the amount provided in fiscal year 2017. The increase above fiscal year 2017 is for the Nonprofit Security Grant Program.

The Committee expects the Secretary to prioritize UASI funding towards urban areas that are subject to the greatest terrorism risk, and to allocate resources in proportion to that risk. Consistent with fiscal year 2017, the Department shall limit UASI funding to urban areas representing up to 85 percent of the national urban area risk.


Mental Health First Aid—The Committee is pleased with the progress of the Mental Health First Aid program including training more than 740,000 Americans to recognize the signs and symptoms of common mental disorders. In continuing competitive funding op- portunities, SAMHSA is directed to include as eligible grantees local law enforcement agencies, fire departments, and emergency medical units with a special emphasis on training for crisis de-esca- lation techniques. SAMHSA is also encouraged to allow training for veterans, armed services personnel and their family members. Any qualified community mental health education program should be considered as eligible for funding under the Mental Health First Aid program.

Karl Schmitt, MPA

Karl Schmitt, MPA

Karl is the Passionate Founder & CEO of bParati. He is on a mission to build a national network of effective, sustainable healthcare coalitions. More...

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