CHN: FY19 Spending Season in Full Swing

Fiscal Year 2019 spending season is in full swing, with appropriations work taking place in both chambers. In fact, the House passed (235-179) its first group of FY19 spending bills, or “minibus,” on June 8. The minibus combined three of the 12 required spending bills – Energy and Water, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, and the Legislative Branch – and passed mainly along party lines. The Senate could take up its first minibus, which could consist of that chamber’s versions of the same three spending bills, as early as this week. Below are just a few of the highlights and lowlights from some of the bills that have moved in the past month:

    • The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education approved (voice vote) its spending bill on Friday, June 15. The largest of the nondefense spending bills and also one of the most contentious, the $177 billion bill would provide a $43 million increase for the Department of Education (essentially flat funding for the department’s $71 billion budget), a $1 billion increase for the for the Department of Health and Human Services to $89.2 billion, and an $88.8 million decrease for the Labor Department to $12.1 billion. In the Labor Department, the National Labor Relations Board would be cut by $12.9 million, and the NLRB is also the subject of partisan policy riders that advocates oppose. The Employment Training Administration would be cut by $216 million. Several programs received flat funding from 2018, including state grants for adult employment and training, dislocated workers and youth activities; programs for ex-offenders; programs for migrant and seasonal farmworkers; and Job Corp. In education, the maximum Pell Grant award would stay the same as in FY18. IDEA special education grants to states would increase by $50 million. TRIO and GEAR UP programs for first-generation college students would see increases. Funding for charter schools would increase by 12 percent. However, citizenship education and safe school funds for low-income, high poverty schools would be cut, as would certain school safety programs. Head Start would receive a $50 million increase. The Child Care and Development Block Grant would be flat funded (maintaining the large $2.37 billion increase that occurred this year), and the Community Services Block Grant would receive a $35 million increase. The bill defunds the Affordable Care Act and eliminates the Center for Disease Control’s Climate Change program. The Republican summary of the bill can be found here. Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), the subcommittee’s highest ranking Democrat, said the bill “is filled with misplaced priorities and missed opportunities.” The full House Appropriations Committee is expected to take up the bill the week of June 25, the same week the Senate is expected to release its Labor-HHS-Education bill.
    • The Senate Transportation-Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Committee passed its bill on June 7. The spending bill includes a $1.8 billion, or 4 percent, boost in funding for HUD over FY18, rejecting the President’s call to cut the department by 13 percent. The Senate bill also funds HUD at $1 billion above the House bill. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, the Senate bill fully funds all existing rental assistance contracts and includes additional resources to provide an estimated 7,600 new vouchers to veterans and youth aging out of the foster care system. The Senate bill also increases funding for public housing, Homeless Assistance Grants, Family Self-Sufficiency, and Healthy Homes & Lead Hazard Control. The bill renews all contracts for Section 811 Housing for Persons with Disabilities and provides enough funding for new construction under Section 202 Housing for the Elderly. The HOME Investment Partnerships program and Community Development Block Grants would be funded at 2018 levels, despite calls for elimination by the president. The Choice Neighborhoods program, however, receives a $50 million cut. For more details, see the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s full analysis of the Senate bill and the House bill, and their updated budget chart.
    • The Senate Interior-Environment Appropriations Subcommittee passed its bill on June 12 without a number of contentious policy changes, known as “riders,” that would roll back environmental protections regarding clean water and endangered species. The House version of the bill contained many of these partisan riders.

Despite the forward motion of the spending bills, many are already expecting that a stopgap spending bill will be needed to keep the government open from the time the new fiscal year begins on October 1 through sometime after the November elections.

According to CQ (Congressional Quarterly), the House Budget Committee may take up a FY19 budget resolution as early as this week. Committee Chairman Steve Womack (R-AR) is expected to produce a budget resolution that includes special rules known as reconciliation instructions. Using the reconciliation process allows measures with a budgetary impact (like extending or making permanent the individual tax cuts in the 2017 tax bill, cutting entitlement programs, or a repeal of much of the Affordable Care Act) to be passed in the Senate with only a simple majority instead of the usual 60-vote threshold required in that chamber. However, this only holds true if the Senate also passes a FY19 budget. Senate Budget Chairman Michael Enzi (R-WY) has not indicated whether he plans to take up a similar budget in that chamber, but most reports are that the Senate is highly unlikely to complete action on a budget resolution.

Affordable Care Act
Budget and Appropriations
Education and Youth Policy
Housing and Homelessness
Labor and Employment