Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Conference report filed in House (11/07/1997)

TABLE OF CONTENTS:

Title I: Department of Labor

Title II: Department of Health and Human Services

Title III: Department of Education

Title IV: Related Agencies

Title V: General Provisions

Title VI: Other Provisions

Title VII: National Health Museum

Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 1998 - Makes appropriations for FY 1998 for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and related agencies.

Title I: Department of Labor - Department of Labor Appropriations Act, 1998 - Makes appropriations for the Department of Labor for: (1) training and employment services; (2) community service employment for older Americans; (3) Federal unemployment benefits and allowances; (4) State unemployment insurance and employment service operations; (5) advances to the Unemployment Trust Fund and other trust funds; (6) employment and training program administration; (7) the Pension and Welfare Benefits Administration for salaries and expenses and the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation; (8) the Employment Standards Administration; (9) certain special benefits; (10) the Black Lung Disability Trust Fund; (11) the Occupational Safety and Health Administration; (12) the Mine Safety and Health Administration; (13) the Bureau of Labor Statistics; (14) departmental management; and (15) the Office of Inspector General.

Sets forth authorized uses of, and limitations on, funds appropriated under this title.

Title II: Department of Health and Human Services - Department of Health and Human Services Appropriations Act, 1998 - Makes appropriations for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) for: (1) the Health Resources and Services Administration; (2) Federal interest subsidies for medical facilities; (3) health education assistance loans; (4) the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program Trust Fund; (5) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; (6) the National Institutes of Health (NIH), including amounts for the John E. Fogarty International Center, the National Library of Medicine, the Office of the Director, and buildings and facilities; (7) the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration; (8) retirement pay and medical benefits for Public Health Service commissioned officers; (9) the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research; (10) the Health Care Financing Administration for grants to States for Medicaid, payments to health care trust funds, program management, and the Health Maintenance Organization Loan and Loan Guarantee Fund; (11) the Administration for Children and Families for family support payments to States; (12) low income home energy assistance; (13) refugee and entrant assistance; (14) the child care and development block grant; (15) the social services block grant; (16) children and families services programs; (17) family preservation and support; (18) payments to States for foster care and adoption assistance; (19) the Administration on Aging; (20) the Office of the Secretary for general departmental management; (21) the Office of Inspector General; (22) the Office for Civil Rights; and (23) policy research.

Rescinds FY 1998 funds for a sample study of child welfare.

Sets forth authorized uses of, and limitations on, funds appropriated under this title.

(Sec. 211) Authorizes the Secretary of HHS to provide for the relocation of the Gillis W. Long Hansen's Disease Center in Carville, Louisiana. Sets forth administrative provisions with respect to relocation of patients and separation of employees.

(Sec. 212) Prohibits funds appropriated in this Act from being made available under title X (population research and voluntary family planning) of the Public Health Service Act unless the applicant for the award certifies to the Secretary that it encourages family participation in the decision of minors to seek family planning services and provides counseling to minors on resisting attempts to coerce minors into engaging in sexual activities.

(Sec. 213) Requires the Secretary of HHS to contract with the Institute of Medicine to conduct a study of policies and process used by NIH to determine funding allocations for biomedical research. Directs the Institute to report study results and recommendations to specified congressional committees.

Title III: Department of Education - Department of Education Appropriations Act, 1998 - Makes appropriations for the Department of Education for: (1) education reform; (2) education for the disadvantaged; (3) impact aid; (4) school improvement activities; (5) a child literacy initiative; (6) Indian education; (7) bilingual and immigrant education; (8) special education; (9) rehabilitation services and disability research; (10) special institutions for persons with disabilities; (11) vocational and adult education; (12) student financial assistance; (13) the Federal family education loan program account; (14) higher education; (15) Howard University; (16) the college housing and academic facilities loans program; (17) the historically black college and university capital financing program account; (18) education research, statistics, and improvement; (19) the Institute of Museum and Library Services; (20) departmental management; (21) the Office for Civil Rights; and (22) the Office of the Inspector General.

Amends the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 to authorize appropriations for additional assistance to local educational agencies affected by specified Federal activities, including the closing of military bases on which children to whom such agencies are responsible for providing education reside.

Sets forth authorized uses of, and limitations on, funds appropriated under this title.

(Sec. 301) Prohibits funds appropriated in this Act from being used to: (1) transport teachers or students in order to overcome racial imbalance in any school or to carry out a racial desegregation plan; or (2) prevent the implementation of programs of voluntary prayer and meditation in public schools.

(Sec. 305) Bars the use of funds provided to the Department of Education or to an applicable program in any Act in FY 1998 to field or pilot test, implement, administer, or distribute national tests. Makes such prohibition inapplicable to the International Math and Science Study or the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

(Sec. 306) Directs the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) to conduct a feasibility study to determine if an equivalency scale can be developed that would allow test scores from commercially available standardized tests and State assessments to be compared with each other and the NAEP. Requires a report to the White House and specified congressional committees.

(Sec. 307) Vests exclusive authority over all policies, direction, and guidelines for developing voluntary national tests pursuant to a specified August 1997 contract entered into between the Department of Education and the American Institutes for Research in the National Assessment Governing Board. Requires the Board to review the contract and modify it, or negotiate a new contract, as necessary.

Directs the Board to determine: (1) the extent to which test items selected for use are free from racial, cultural, or gender bias; (2) whether the test development process and test items adequately assess reading and mathematics comprehension in the form most likely to yield accurate information regarding student achievement in such areas; (3) whether such process and items take into account the needs of disadvantaged, limited English proficient, and disabled students; and (4) whether such process takes into account how parents, guardians, and students will be appropriately informed about testing content, purpose, and uses.

(Sec. 308) Directs NAS to submit a report to specified congressional committees that evaluates test items in the contract for: (1) technical quality for fourth grade reading and eighth grade mathematics; (2) validity, reliability, and adequacy and evaluates the validity of any design which links test results to student performance; (3) the degree to which they provide valid and useful information to the public; (4) racial, cultural, and gender bias; (5) whether they address the needs of disadvantaged, limited English proficient, and disabled students; and (6) use in tracking, graduation, or promotion of students.

(Sec. 309) Requires NAS to report to specified entities recommendations to ensure that tests used to assess performance: (1) are not used in a discriminatory manner or inappropriately for student promotion, tracking, or graduation; and (2) adequately assess student reading and mathematics comprehension in the form most likely to yield accurate information regarding student achievement in such areas.

(Sec. 310) Bars the Federal Government from requiring: (1) State or local educational agencies or schools to administer any pilot or field test in any subject or grade; or (2) any student to take any national test in any subject or grade.

(Sec. 311) Prohibits Federal, State, or local educational agencies from requiring private or parochial school students or home-schooled individuals to take any test pursuant to the contract without parental or guardian consent.

Title IV: Related Agencies - Makes appropriations for the: (1) Armed Forces Retirement Home; (2) Corporation for National and Community Service; (3) Corporation for Public Broadcasting; (4) Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service; (5) Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission; (6) National Commission on Libraries and Information Science; (7) National Council on Disability; (8) National Education Goals Panel; (9) National Labor Relations Board; (10) National Mediation Board; (11) Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission; (12) Medicare Payment Advisory Commission; (13) Railroad Retirement Board for the dual benefits payments account, Federal payments to the railroad retirement accounts, administration, and the Office of Inspector General; (14) Social Security Administration for payments to the social security trust funds, special benefits for disabled coal miners, the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Program, administrative expenses, and the Office of Inspector General; and (15) U.S. Institute of Peace.

Title V: General Provisions - Sets forth authorized uses of, and limitations on, funds appropriated under this Act.

(Sec. 505) Prohibits the use of funds appropriated under this Act to carry out programs of distributing sterile needles for the hypodermic injection of illegal drugs unless, after March 31, 1998, the Secretary of HHS determines that such programs are effective in preventing the spread of HIV and do not encourage the use of illegal drugs and such programs are operated in accordance with criteria established by the Secretary.

(Sec. 507) Sets forth Buy American provisions.

(Sec. 509) Prohibits funds appropriated under this Act from being expended for abortions or for health benefits coverage that includes coverage of abortion except in cases where the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest or where a woman suffers from a physical condition that would, as certified by a physician, place her in danger of death unless an abortion is performed.

(Sec. 513) Prohibits the use of funds made available in this Act for: (1) the creation of a human embryo for research purposes; or (2) research in which a human embryo is destroyed or knowingly subjected to risk of injury or death greater than that allowed for research on fetuses in utero under Federal regulations and the Public Health Service Act.

(Sec. 514) Prohibits the use of funds made available in this Act for activities to promote the legalization of a controlled substance unless there is significant medical evidence of a therapeutic advantage to the use of such substance or that federally-sponsored trials are being conducted to determine such advantage.

(Sec. 516) Amends the Social Security Act to increase fees required from States for Federal administration of State supplementary payments under the SSI program. Provides for the deposit of a portion of such fees into a special fund and authorizes appropriations from the fund for administrative expenses of the SSI program.

(Sec. 517) Amends the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 1997 to extend certain voluntary separation incentive payments to Federal employees who separate before December 31, 1997 (currently, September 30, 1997).

(Sec. 518) Bars the use of funds made available in this Act to pay the expenses of an election officer appointed by a court to oversee an election of any officer or trustee for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

(Sec. 519) Repeals a provision of the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 that requires increased excise taxes on tobacco to be credited against total payments made by parties pursuant to Federal legislation implementing the tobacco industry settlement agreement of June 20, 1997.

Title VI: Other Provisions - Morris K. Udall Parkinson's Research Act of 1997 - Amends the Public Health Service Act to require the Director of NIH to establish a program for research and training with respect to Parkinson's disease.

Authorizes the Director to award up to ten Core Center Grants to encourage the development of innovative multidisciplinary research and provide training concerning Parkinson's. Designates each center funded under such grants as a Morris K. Udall Center for Research on Parkinson's Disease. Limits support for centers to a five-year period but authorizes funding extensions based on recommendations by peer review groups.

Authorizes the Director to establish a grant program to support investigators who have proven records of excellence and innovation in Parkinson's research and who demonstrate potential for future breakthroughs in the understanding of the pathogenesis, diagnosis, and treatment of Parkinson's. Limits such grants to five-year periods.

Authorizes appropriations.

(Sec. 604) Amends the Immigration and Nationality Act to extend the authorization of appropriations for refugee assistance through FY 1999.

(Sec. 606) Provides that certain payments made by the Secretary of Defense to persons captured and interned by North Vietnam shall not be considered income for purposes of determining eligibility for, or the amount of benefits under, titles XVI or XIX (SSI) or Medicaid) of the Social Security Act.

(Sec. 609) Emergency Student Loan Consolidation Act of 1997 - Amends the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA) to allow until October 1, 1998, the consolidation, under the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP), of all of a student's loans under both the FFELP and the Direct Loan Program.

Prohibits an eligible lender from discriminating against any borrower seeking a consolidation loan: (1) based on the number or type of eligible student loans the borrower seeks to consolidate; (2) based on the type or category of institution of higher education that the borrower attended; (3) based on the interest rate to be charged with respect to the consolidation loan; or (4) with respect to the types of repayment schedules offered to such borrower.

Sets forth required interest rates for such consolidation loans.

Makes such consolidation loans available notwithstanding any pending application by a student for a direct consolidation loan, upon the student's withdrawal of such application.

Revises HEA need analysis requirements to exclude from the calculation of available family income, and so reduce the family contribution for dependent or independent students by, the amount of the Hope Tax Credit taken by the student, the student's parents, or the student's spouse (thus providing that students will not receive reduced financial aid as a result of qualifying for and receiving the new Hope Tax Credits under the Internal Revenue Code).

Reduces the amount of certain funds available for administrative expenses under HEA student assistance provisions.

Title VII: National Health Museum - National Health Museum Development Act - Requires the facility known as the National Health Museum to be located in the District of Columbia on land owned by the Federal Government or the District of Columbia.

(Sec. 704) Establishes the National Health Museum Commission.

(Sec. 707) Authorizes appropriations.