Spending Bills Slowly Advance; House to Mark Up Labor, Health, & Human Services, & Related Agencies Spending Bill

The House and Senate continue to advance FY 2016 appropriations bills. The House has passed 6 of the 12 spending bills on the floor; the Senate has passed three bills out of committee but none has yet reached the floor (see status of all appropriations bills here). The fate of these measures is unclear as the President has threatened to veto any appropriations bills that have sequestration cuts in place for FY 2016. The President’s FY 2016 Budget proposed to end sequestration for FY 2016 by adding $37 billion for both non-defense discretionary and defense discretionary programs. Congress has been deeply divided over keeping in place the sequester cuts for non-Pentagon programs and shifting more funding to the war-related Overseas Contingency Operations fund (OCO) which is exempt from sequestration cuts. Some Members believe that equal relief should be provided for Pentagon and non-Pentagon programs. Despite speculation about a possible deal to adjust current discretionary sequester spending caps, a Continuing Resolution (CR) may be needed to fund programs when FY 2016 begins on October 1. Spending deals may also get wrapped into broader negotiations at the end of the year, when it will be necessary to increase the federal debt ceiling again.

On Wednesday June 17, the House Appropriations Subcommittee will begin marking up its spending bill for the Departments of Labor, Heath, & Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (L-HHS-ED). The L-HHS-Ed appropriations bill includes funding for the majority of discretionary disability-related programs and will be made available on the House Appropriations Committee’s website on June 16. Most disability related programs have been cut substantially over the last few years. See a listing of specific human services programs and their funding reductions since 2010 when factoring inflation (disability-related programs are shown in highlight).

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