Congress Extends Funding for Abstinence Education
July 16, 2007
On Wednesday, House members voted 291-126 to extend for three months Title V Community-Based Abstinence Education (CBAE) funding. The program lapsed June 30 after the House failed to act on the measure, which is tied with the Transitional Medical Assistance (TMA) Medicaid program.
The legislation increased CBAE funding by $27.8 million, to $141 million, and extended it through Sept. 30. However, last month a Senate appropriations committee voted to cut CBAE by $28.5 million. A program advocate said privately CBAE could be flat-funded, and some backers are urging House members to support the cut.
TMA "enjoys wide-ranging bipartisan support," Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas) said before the vote. But while "there is no shortage of debate or opinion" about CBAE, the $50 million annual TMA program deserves to be funded to help poor families, he said.
It is imperative to "support the goals of abstinence education and not get bogged down by the politics that inevitably surround the concept," said Rep. Joe L. Barton (D-Texas), in a letter read on the floor by Rep. Howard Coble (R-N.C.).
Voting against the three-month extension were 124 Republicans. A Republican aide said they objected to funding the programs through a Medicare program offset.
Comprehensive sex education advocates were dismayed by the vote. James Wagoner, president of Advocates for Youth, accused Democratic leaders of supporting a program he called neither evidence-based nor prevention-oriented.
Valerie Huber of the National Abstinence Education Association lauded CBAE's extension, saying abstinence education enjoys two-to-one support among parents.
7.15.2007; Cheryl Wetzstein