Dale Dirks and Sharon Lau of the Health and Medicine Counsel of Washington report:
The House and Senate Transportation Appropriations Conference report was filed on September 16th. The Committee's finished their work late last week on the FY97 funding compromise bill.
As you know, the $12.6 billion FY97 Senate Transportation bill contained an appropriation of $2 million to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to conduct public awareness activities regarding drowsy driving in partnership with the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research (NCSDR). The House bill did not contain a specific appropriation regarding fatigue.
The House/Senate conference contains a compromise of $1 million directed to NHTSA to analyze the role of driver fatigue, sleep disorders, and inattention. The Committee recommendation accompanying the appropriation instructs NHTSA to collaborate directly with the NCSDR and submit a report to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees by May 1, 1997 that describes these collaborative efforts. This appropriations directive focuses more strongly on collaboration between NHTSA and the NCSDR than last year's bill.
The Compromise bill must now be passed by both the House and Senate and sent to the President for his signature.
The Congressional Record states:
Driver fatigue.--The conference agreement includes $1,000,000 to analyze the role of driver fatigue, sleep disorders, and inattention. NHTSA should collaborate directly with the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research to conduct and assess public information activities in these three areas and submit a report to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees by May 1, 1997 that describes these collaborative efforts.
The Original Action Alert -- August 1996
Dear Sleep Disorders Advocate:
Your leadership is urgently needed to secure $2 million in funding for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to conduct public awareness activities relating to fatigue and transportation in partnership with the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research.
During the first week of September, Congress will return from recess and the House/Senate Transportation conference will begin. Please take the time NOW to write to your Representative and Senator and to Congressman Frank Wolf urging them to accept the $2 million Senate provision in the conference. At this point, Congressman Frank Wolf is by far the most important. His address is 241 Cannon House Office Building, Washington, D.C., 20515-4610. If possible, write to other members of the House and Senate Transportation Subcommittee's.
Refer to the sample letter and the list of the Members of the House and Senate Transportation Subcommittee's. Furthermore, telephone calls, letters to the editor, telegrams and personal visits to your local or Washington, D.C. Congressional offices are also important and have tremendous impact on legislators. For additional information or assistance in arranging a visit, please call the American Sleep Disorders Association's Washington, D.C. office at 202-544-7499. Federal legislators are facing the difficult task of allocating scarce resources among a variety of competing initiatives. A concerted effort by the sleep community is essential if adequate funding for sleep research is to be realized. Please help make a difference.
Barbara Phillips, MD
Chairman, Government Affairs Committee
Submitted by Senator Mark Hatfield, Chair, the Committee on Appropriations, 104th Congress, 2nd Session.
"Driver Fatigue, sleep disorders, and inattention. --The Committee has been pleased with the initiatives taken by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to begin to address the problems of driver fatigue, sleep disorders, and inattention. NHTSA data indicate a significant number of non-fatal and fatal crashes are attributed to drivers falling asleep behind the wheel and driver inattention. The Committee recomendation includes $2,000,000 in funding for accelerated NHTSA activity in this important area. Funding should be utilized to collaborate directly with the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research to conduct and assess public information activities about driver fatigue, sleep disorders, and inattention. The Committee strongly urges that NHTSA consider the national center an equal partner in this collaboration. The Committee directs NHTSA to submit a report to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, prior to markup of the fiscal year 1998 Transportation appropriations bill, that specifically describes the collaborative efforts and funding activities between NHTSA and the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research."
August 16, 1996
Last year, Congress appropriated $1 million to fund a driver fatigue program. This appropriation first appeared in the Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee Report (Chaired by Senator Mark Hatfield). It was not included in the House version. Grassroots activists mobilized by Wake Up America together with American Sleep Disorders Association (ASDA) and its Government Affairs Committee lobbied House Subcommittee members and persuaded them to go along with the Senate in Conference.
This year, Senator Hatfield has doubled the "driver fatigue" funding for FY97 and has included stronger language in the Subcommittee report (see above). Once again, there is no such language in the House version. Once again, grassroots activists and ASDA members will have to put forth a major effort directed mainly at Representative Frank Wolf (10th District, Virginia) and key Subcommittee members asking them to accept the Senate version in Conference. You have probably seen the "Action Alert" on this matter. I wish to add my voice to all others who are advocating this initiative.
If $2 million in new money is actually appropriated for the driver fatigue program in NHTSA, the entire sleep community must then work to ensure that these funds are shared appropriately with the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research. We must all work to ensure that the efforts of Senator Hatfield and his colleagues to provide support for the National Center are not made in vain.
William C. Dement, M.D., Ph.D.
The Health and Medicine Counsel of Washington reported that the Senate Appropriations Committee this week completed consideration of its FY97 funding measure for the Department of Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and related agencies. The bill was reported by the full committee on Thursday August 12th and is tentatively scheduled to be considered on the Senate floor on September 18th. The House of Representatives passed its FY97 L-HHS bill in July.
The bill includes $1,403,557,000 for the National Heat, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI). This is an increase of $48,611,000 more than FY96 and $34,708,000 less than the House level. The NHLBI houses the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research (NCSDR).
The Senate Report has this to say about the NCSDR:
National Center on Sleep Disorders Research.--The Committee notes the continued development of the NCSDR and the expansion of the Center's research portfolio. The Committee is pleased with demonstrated progress in the sleep disorders education campaign and urges continued development of this important campaign. The Committee recommends continued development of a plan for scientific collaboration among the National Center and other NIH Institutes through the implementation of the recently approved national sleep disorders research plan. Continued development of the National Center's research portfolio is expected through the issuance of request for applications, joint programs, and multiinstitute collaboration as outlined in the national sleep disorders research plan.
The Senate Committee urges the Director of NIH to help facilitate implementation of the National Sleep Research Plan and continuation of the sleep education campaign through NHLBI:
Sleep Disorders.--The Committee is supportive of the work of the NIH, particularly the NHLBI, to establish the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research. However, no mechanism has been formally established to encourage grant collaboration between the National Center and other NIH Institutes that have an interest in and a portfolio of sleep research activity, as statutorily authorized. The Committee is hopeful that the recently approved national sleep disorders research plan will serve as the focal point for this important activity, and that the Director's Office will help facilitate implementation of this plan and the necessary cross Institute collaboration.
The Committee also views the continued implementation of the National Sleep Disorders education campaign as a very high priority and urges the NIH Director to help facilitate this initiative through the NHLBI and other relevant Institutes.
Some other recommended appropriations for NIH Institutes that do sleep-related research:
The Senate Committee recommended the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) an appropriation of $707,959,000 for FY97. That is an increase of $27,057,000 over FY96 and $17,519,000 less than the House level. NINDS conducts narcolepsy research.
The Senate Committee recommended the National Institute of of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) an appropriation of $615,244,000 for FY97. That is an increase of $20,697,000 over FY96 and $16,745,000 less than the House level. The NICHD conducts SIDS research.
The Senate Committee recommended the National Institute on Aging (NIA) an appropriation of $472,074,000 for FY97. That is $12,301,000 less than the House level but $18,533,000 more than FY96. The NIA conducts sleep research on the aging population.
The Senate Committee recommended the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) an appropriation of $683,375,000 for FY97. That is an increase of of $22,861,000 more than FY96 but $17,872,000 less than the House level. The NIMH conducts a wide range of sleep research.
Now what happens?
Once the Senate finishes its consideration of the bill, a House/Senate conference will convene to try and resolve the numerous differences between the two bills. It is expected that a final measure will be produced by the beginning of the fiscal year on October 1st. However, it remains unclear as to whether the bill will be a free-standing measure or part of an omnibus continuing funding resolution. This issue will be played out during the next few weeks.
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