Federal spending bill includes victories for veterinarians

Veterinary voices guiding public policyThere’s good news for veterinarians in the spending bill approved Friday by Congress and the president.

The $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill averted a government shutdown by providing funding for the remainder of the fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, 2018. At more than 2,000 pages, the bill covers a wide range of policy items—and includes several funding victories for veterinary medicine.

As part of the AVMA’s ongoing advocacy work, we communicate closely with lawmakers about funding for important veterinary initiatives each year, including programs related to animal health, animal welfare and public health. We’re pleased to see these efforts rewarded, as these programs all fared well in the omnibus bill. Highlights include:

  • $1.5 million increase for the Veterinary Medicine Loan Repayment Program, to $8 million
  • Continuation of funding for the Veterinary Services Grant Program at the same level as before: $2.5 million
  • $1.25 million increase to the fully authorized funding level of $2.5 million for the Food Animal Residue Avoidance Databank
  • $25 million increase for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative
  • $24 million increase for the Food Safety and Inspection Service, including language directing the agency to provide $7.5 million toward public health veterinarian recruitment and retention
  • Increased funding for the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service to $982 million, up $36 million from 2017
  • $350 million for payments under the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program and $2.3 million for borrower education

Competing spending priorities and a challenging budget environment can make it difficult to maintain – let alone increase – funding levels for any budget items. This makes these funding victories all the more significant.

AVMA will work to continue this great momentum into the 2019 fiscal year. In the coming weeks, there will be opportunities for you to urge your Congressional delegation to support veterinary priorities in the next funding cycle. To keep apprised of these updates, and to learn more about the AVMA’s advocacy efforts and how to get involved, add your name as a member of the AVMA Congressional Advocacy Network.

4 thoughts on “Federal spending bill includes victories for veterinarians

  1. I have never gotten that desperate until my wife became severely disabled in 2006 By a quack physician. The surgery I won’t even mention.The doctor who had dreadful technique also had dreadful bedside manner. Her life and my life have been ruined since. WE never get or are offered help from her family. She has 2 able bodied brothers, one of whom is filthy rich. Her 2 daughters don’t give a rip. I have asked social workers to advise and they are like a pint of cold urine. So i won’t ever even bother a soul anymore. But I have hit the wall for the last time. 12 years i have had this nightmare I have had 2 MI, a total knee replacement, and now have severe lower lumbar back problems. I am sick of being in pain and won’t allow this to eat me alive any longer. I have thought of suicide and also plotted it. I need to get the fuck out of here.

  2. However, did your bother to address the problem of the Loan Repayment Program’s interpretation by the IRS. Get your student loan repaid at abut $40,000.00/year but it is considered regular income and the recipient can’t afford the tax!!!! One step forward and two backyard for the AVMA of today. More concerned about appearance than reality.

    • Thank you for your comment.

      This post is intended to summarize funding provisions of interest to veterinary medicine in the most recent spending bill passed by Congress and signed by the President. The $350 million included in the funding bill is intended to address technical issues in the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program. It has come to Congress’s attention that borrowers who were otherwise eligible for PSLF were enrolled in an ineligible repayment plan. Through this funding bill, Congress directs the Secretary of Education to provide loan cancellation for such otherwise eligible borrowers as long as the most recent loan payment and the payment made 12 months before applying for cancellation are each not less than the amount the borrower would have made under a qualifying Income Driven Repayment plan. The Secretary has 60 days to come up with a simple method for borrowers to apply for cancellation. Loans will be cancelled on a first-come, first-serve basis until the money is expended. Loan forgiveness through PSLF is not taxed.

      As you know, standard loan repayment plans come with time-based forgiveness after 20-25 years, and the balances forgiven are indeed taxable.

      AVMA, both in our tax and higher education efforts, supports legislation to exempt loan forgiveness and discharge from gross income for income tax purposes. We are in contact with the House and Senate committees that handle loan repayment, and we constantly scan for bills and work to ensure our Legislative Advisory Committee reviews and recommends positions on bills of interest to veterinary medicine. We are in the process of updating this document, but you can read more about the higher education legislation we are tracking and supporting, here: https://www.avma.org/Advocacy/National/Congress/Documents/Summaries-115-Higher-Ed-Legislation-20171020.pdf