Jan 11

New Year, new budget, same federal spending quagmire

In less than ten days, Congress will again face a deadline to address FY 2018 federal funding. The third continuing resolution (CR) passed by Congress in late December is scheduled to expire at midnight on January 19, 2018, and a way forward through the impasse has not yet emerged. While Congressional leadership from both parties and both chambers continue to meet with the administration to craft a new budget deal, the likelihood of a government shutdown later this month increases as every day goes by, and federal spending levels for a wide array of functions, including afterschool program support to local communities, remain uncertain. Additionally, the kick-off to the FY 2019 spending process is quickly approaching with the Trump administration expected to present their new budget proposal on or around February 5, 2018.

Several scenarios remain possible later this month:

  • A deal could be reached (see the main barriers to reaching a deal discussed below), securing topline funding levels and a final omnibus spending bill. A fourth CT would be needed, however, going into mid-to-late February to give appropriators enough time to write the omnibus bill.
  • No deal is reached, but enough agreement is found to pass another short-term CR to allow negotiations to continue.
  • No deal is reached and a government shutdown takes place until agreement can be found.

There are number of key issues that stand in the way of a spending deal s FY 2018 spending negotiations continue:

  • New spending caps for defense and non-defense discretionary (NDD) funding – The primary barrier to a new spending deal continues to be the sequester-level caps for defense and NDD funding for FY 2018, which were triggered by the 2011 Budget Control Act and are lower than previous years. Republicans want to increase defense spending by at least $54 billion, the amount cut as a result of the defense sequester, while Democrats maintain that parity between non-defense and defense funding levels must be upheld (meaning the same increase for NDD as for defense spending). Past deals to increase the caps have covered two fiscal years, so any new deal is likely to raise caps for FY 2018 and FY 2019. There has been a great deal of speculation on how much the spending caps might be raised but little public discussion about the offsets for the increase in spending.
  • DACA and border wall funding – Democrats insist they will not support a deal unless it also extends the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals protection for “DREAMers” who could otherwise face deportation this year. While the president’s statements have changed several times during the past 36 hours, he appears to support including coverage for DREAMers but only if paired with a number of other immigration policy changes and new funding to build a border wall with Mexico.
  • CHIP and more There are expiring authorizations that Congress could put in a package with a budget deal or an omnibus appropriations package, including the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, and another round of disaster relief, among others.

Once top-level spending numbers are reached, House and Senate Appropriations Committees estimate they will need at least three weeks to craft an omnibus spending bill with individual funding levels for each government program. 21st Century Community Learning Center (21st CCLC) funding was set at $1.192 billion by the Senate Appropriations Committee earlier this fall; however the House has proposed $1.1 billion for Community Learning Centers. While final spending levels will most likely fall within that range, the lower level of $1.1 billion would mean almost 100,000 youth could lose access to programming.

Friends of afterschool can weigh in with Congress here about the importance of federal afterschool funding that provides support for local school and community based organizations that serve almost 1.8 million children.

FY 2019 Preview

Regardless of when the FY 2018 appropriations process wraps up, the FY 2019 cycle is hot on its heels. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and agencies like the Department of Education are working on finalizing their 2019 budgets. The president will preview key policy priorities reflected by the budget in his State of the Union Address on January 30, 2018, and is scheduled to release his budget on or before February 5, 2018. Last year’s administration budget request proposed the complete elimination of 21st CCLC potentially leaving almost two million children without access to quality afterschool and summer learning programs. As the budget release date approaches, stay tuned to the Afterschool Snack blog for updates and ways to take action to ensure continued support for local afterschool programs.