How to Take Action This Month, August 2017

U.S. House Committee Approves OSHA, MSHA, NIOSH, CSB Funding Bills, but the End Zone Remains Far Off

​Funding cuts are coming to OSHA, MSHA, and NIOSH. It’s still too early to determine exactly how much pain will be felt and where, but we’re talking about reductions in the collective neighborhood of more than $50 million. While the forecast now is less than sunny, there’s still time and you CAN make a difference! Take a moment now to send a letter to your Members of Congress​ and urge them to reverse course and provide strong funding for OSHA, MSHA, NIOSH, and the Chemical Safety Board (CSB).

In the meantime, here’s where things stand: in late July, the U.S. House Appropriations Committee approved a pair of funding bills that supply dollars to OSHA, MSHA, NIOSH, CSB, and many other programs and agencies. 

  • Compared to current levels, OSHA’s fiscal year 2018 funding would be cut by $21.4 million, with most of that coming from the elimination of the Susan Harwood Training Grants Program, and a $13.8 million cut in funding for federal enforcement activity, which involves OSHA inspections of workplaces for compliance with standards. 
  • MSHA would be cut by $13.9 million. The rationale given for this reduction is a continuation of a theme seen in many other places: the Majority party in the House (which writes the reports accompanying the funding bills, and is in this case Republican) has received reports that inspectors are conducting too much oversight, and that this is getting in the way of operations to the point where the costs of such oversight outweigh the benefits of safety improvements.
  • NIOSH would be cut by $10 million, but much would be spared from the chopping block, including the Education and Research Centers (ERCs); Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing Program; Personal Protective Technology; National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA); and Mining Research Program – all of which would be level-funded.

With all of that said, here’s the likely endgame: Congress will pass a short-term continuing resolution that funds programs at current levels, and then wrap several of the bills into smaller packages called “minibuses.” The rationale for this prediction is that the 2018 fiscal year begins October 1, but the House has yet to pass many of their funding bills. The Senate also needs to work its bills through their subcommittees, pass them, reconcile differences between what the House passed, pass those bills one last time in each chamber, and THEN present the bills to the president. Whew!

It’s worth noting that the ultimate funding levels for programs and agencies can still change at several points: during House floor consideration (where the bills may be amended), during Senate committee markup, and floor consideration of the bills, and then again during the conference committee, where final bills are produced.

As the title of this piece indicates, there’s still a ways to go before we get to the end zone… Stay tuned and keep in touch!

Would you like information on funding for a program or agency not mentioned? Send an email to Mark Ames