With yet another federal funding deadline quickly approaching as the clock ticks down till midnight on February 8, Congress appears to have made significant progress in finally reaching a two year budget deal that extends FY2018 federal spending under a fifth continuing resolution and raises the non-defense and defense spending caps. While quick passage in the Senate looks likely, it remains uncertain whether the votes are there to pass the deal in the House of Representatives. The deal would extend funding through March 23, 2018, at current FY2017 levels for the most part, allowing appropriators to incorporate the new higher spending caps into a FY2018 Omnibus spending bill that would be voted on next month.
This afternoon the Senate released the details of their new bipartisan budget deal that allows for a total of $131 billion in additional non-defense discretionary spending for fiscal years 2018 and 2019 and $165 billion more for defense spending over the two fiscal years. As a result, additional funding is expected to be available for the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education appropriations, which includes federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers (21st CCLC) afterschool and summer learning program funding.
The deal also provides emergency funding outside the spending caps for both defense and NDD, including $28 billion for the Community Development Block Grant and $23.5 billion for FEMA’s Disaster Relief Funds, among other items. The deal includes health care extenders and a two-year reauthorization for Community Health Centers.
As of this afternoon, the White House has indicated it would support the deal, however approval by the House of Representatives, while ultimately expected, may be a challenge. Conservatives in the House object to increased non-defense spending and liberal Democrats have expressed opposition to the spending deal unless there’s first an agreement to act on immigration legislation, as there is in the Senate. Despite these challenges, indications show that the votes should be there to ensure passage of the measure in the House before the midnight Thursday deadline.
Of the total two-year increase for non-defense discretionary spending, several programs were singled out to receive increases however the remaining increase will be determined by the Appropriations Committee over the coming weeks. Among the commitments announced:
While Congress works to pass this new spending deal and fifth continuing resolution for FY2018, the Trump Administration is still expected to release its budget proposal for FY2019 this coming Monday, February 12, 2018. Friends of afterschool are encouraged to weigh in with Congress on the importance of federal support for local afterschool and summer learning programs.