The Senate Budget Committee passed its fiscal year 2018 Budget along a party line vote of 12 to 11 on October 5. It also passed an amendment by Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) for implementing work requirements for all means-tested federal “welfare” programs. The Senate Budget provides instructions to the Finance Committee to allow the Committee to increase the deficit by to $1.5 trillion over the next decade. In addition to taxation, the Finance Committee has jurisdiction over Medicaid, Medicare, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, and other health and human services programs. The Senate Budget also assumes trillions of dollars in cuts to mandatory programs and proposes a cut of nearly 30% in inflation adjusted dollars to non-defense discretionary programs by 2027.
The full Senate is expected to take up the measure the week of October 16. If it passes as expected, it will set up a conference with the House to iron out the substantial differences between their budgets. If both chambers are able to pass the same version, it could allow for legislation that can be passed by a simple majority (51) in the Senate. Click here for an analysis of the Senate 2018 Budget Resolution.
The House passed its fiscal year (FY) 2018 Budget Resolution (H.Con.Res.71) on October 5 by a vote of 219 to 206. While tax reform is the stated priority of the majority party for this budget, there are numerous provisions that would be very harmful to people with disabilities. The House Budget Resolution has stronger language than the Senate Budget Resolution calling for trillions of dollars in spending cuts over a decade, including to programs such as Medicaid and Medicare. The House Budget also assumes the adoption of an Affordable Care Act repeal bill that has not advanced. It does not allow for tax cuts to increase the deficit, also unlike the Senate’s Budget. Instead it provides instructions to 11 committees for $203 billion in spending cuts and proposes to cut nondefense spending by $5 billion, while increasing defense spending by $72 billion. Click here for The Arc’s statement on the House passage of its 2018 Budget Resolution.
The Senate Budget Committee released its Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Resolution on September 29. The budget resolution (BR) is a 10-year spending and revenue blueprint for the federal government. The Senate Budget Committee’s BR contains reconciliation instructions that will allow the Finance Committee to develop tax reform legislation that increases the deficit by to $1.5 trillion over the next decade. In addition, the BR includes reserve funds for legislation to repeal or replace the Affordable Care Act, extend the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and ensure “state flexibility” in education, among other things. The BR is expected to be marked up in committee next week and brought to the full Senate in mid-October. The Arc is concerned that the BR will open the door for Congress to try again to limit health care and cut the Medicaid program as well as to provide large tax cuts that result in the need to cut Medicaid and other programs down the road to pay for them. Click here for the summary of the Senate budget resolution.
The House plans to vote on its fiscal year 2018 Budget Resolution on Wednesday, October 4. Click here for a summary of the House Budget Resolution, which includes plans to “reform” Medicaid, cut spending, and enact tax reform. Passage of the House resolution (H.Con.Res.71) would set up a conference with the Senate on its budget blueprint (see article below). The House and Senate could quickly adopt a joint budget resolution to pave the way for legislation that can be passed by a simple majority (51) vote in the Senate. The Arc opposes the House Budget Resolution.
After two weeks spent debating hundreds of amendments, the House passed a $1.23 trillion omnibus spending bill on September 14 to fund the federal government through the end of the fiscal year (FY 2018). The bill included significant increases in defense spending and cuts in non-defense spending. The bill is not expected to pass the Senate because it exceeds base discretionary spending caps for Defense programs established by the Budget Control Act of 2011 by approximately $72 billion. A budget agreement to change the spending caps would be needed to avoid across-the-board spending cuts (known as a sequester). In addition, the House bill includes $1.6 billion for the controversial border wall with Mexico and many other controversial policy riders such as limitations on the Environmental Protection Agency and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The House and Senate will have to negotiate a spending bill before December 8 when the current continuing resolution expires in order to avoid a government funding shutdown.
On September 7 and 8, the Senate and House voted, respectively, to pass a continuing resolution (CR), H.R. 601, to fund the federal government through December 8. The measure, which also includes an increase in the debt ceiling and $15.25 billion in funding for hurricane relief through the same date, was signed by President Trump on September 8. This short-term measure was needed because none of the 12 annual appropriations bills have been passed by the House and Senate, leaving little time before the end of the 2017 fiscal year on September 30. The CR provides for level funding for existing federal programs. The House and Senate will need to negotiate differences between their spending bills and pass the them before December 8 or face a shutdown or an additional CR. To date, the chambers are far apart on their funding levels, including the overall funding for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (L-HHS-ED) which funds the vast majority of disability-related programs. See current funding levels for disability-related programs approved by the House and Senate Appropriations Committees here.
The House Appropriations Committee did not fund two Trump Administration education priorities. In the Administration’s FY 2018 Budget, the President requested $1 billion for “portability” of funds to public school of choice and $250 million for research and private school scholarships for low-income families. However, the Appropriations Committee report noted that these programs have not been authorized. This means that Congress would need to enact legislation to allow public education dollars to be used for both public school portability and private school choice efforts.
On July 19, the House Appropriations Committee approved the draft FY 2018 Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (L-HHS-ED) funding bill by a vote of 28-22. The bill provides an overall funding level of $156 billion, a $5 billion (3.1%) discretionary cut from FY 2017 levels. Most disability-related programs were level funded, with few seeing cuts and a small number receiving increases. See line items for disability related programs here. The Senate has yet to release its L-HHS-Ed funding bill, though the overall allocation is higher ($164 billion) than the House’s bill ($156 billion).
The House Budget Committee approved a Budget Resolution on a 22-14 party-line vote. The 10-year budget plan includes:
- $4.4 trillion in cuts from Mandatory programs:
- $1.5 trillion cut from Medicaid and other health programs (includes House-passed American Health Care Act cuts plus additional cuts)
- $487 billion cut from Medicare
- $4 billion cut from Social Security disability insurance (SSDI)
- Almost $2.5 trillion cut from other mandatory programs like SNAP (food stamps) and other income security programs
- $1.3 trillion in cuts to Non-defense discretionary (NDD) programs below the current cap, while defense is increased $930 billion above the cap. This would put NDD funding (which includes many disability-related programs such as housing, employment, education, and transportation) at 17% below 2010 levels when factoring in inflation.
The House budget also provides “reconciliation instructions” for 11 committees to fast-track a package of spending cuts and tax cuts, requiring only 50 votes in the Senate to pass. Since the instructions specify “deficit-neutral” rather than “revenue-neutral” tax reform, the Ways & Means Committee will be able offset the costs of tax cuts with cuts to mandatory spending, such as Medicaid and Medicare. The House of Representatives is expected to take up this measure in September. The Arc strongly opposes the House Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Budget Resolution.
The House of Representatives continued advancing several funding bills for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 which begins on October 1. On Wednesday, the House Appropriations Committee released its draft bill for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (L-HHS-ED) which includes the vast majority of discretionary disability-related programs and passed it out of subcommittee the following day. The bill provides funding of $156 billion, a $5 billion (3.1%) cut from FY 2017 levels. The Department of Education has the most significant cut of $2.5 billion (though IDEA programs received a small increase), while the Department of Labor would face a $1 billion cut and HHS faces around $500 million in cuts. See summary here. Line item figures are expected to be made available soon. A markup by the full House Appropriations Committee is planned for July 19.