Last week Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) released the text of a short term fiscal year (FY) 2017 spending bill that would run through Dec. 9. This bill would fund most federal agencies and provide funding to address the Zika virus. Key elements include:
- An across-the-board cut of about 0.5 percent from FY 2016 to comply with the spending caps set by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015. This cut would apply to all discretionary disability-related programs such as education, housing, employment, and transportation.
- $1.1 billion in emergency funding for response to the Zika virus, about $400 million of which is offset with funding that has not been spent (such as unused funding for Affordable Care Act exchanges in territories). It does not include controversial riders related to Planned Parenthood and pesticides that had been central issues stalling previous spending packages.
The measure was met with immediate opposition from many members of Congress who object to several riders that remain (such as one related to campaign finance) and the fact that no emergency funding is included to support recovery from the water contamination crisis in Flint, Michigan. Congress must pass a spending bill by the end of FY 2016 on Sept. 30 (Friday) to avoid a partial government shutdown.