ASC April 2015 Public Policy Update

 By Tom Branen

The FY 2016 appropriations process is in full swing. The House Appropriations Committee, Chaired by Kentucky’s Harold Rogers, passed a spending framework on Wednesday, April 22nd, that would make significant cuts to President Barack Obama’s domestic budget for the upcoming 2016 federal fiscal year that begins on October 1, 2015.

The House Appropriations Committee is working within the spending limits written into the 2011 Budget Control Act, which has frozen discretionary spending for the third year in a row at $523 billion for defense programs and $493.5 billion for non-defense purposes

The allocations, known as 302(b)s targets some increases for the spending bills that fund science programs, veterans’ health care and the Transportation and Housing and Urban Development departments.

At the same time, it proposes to offset the increases by cutting spending for the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education (Labor-HHS-Education) bill. This bill funds the Corporation for National & Community Service (CNCS) and it programs such as AmeriCorps and Senior Corps. These proposed cuts to the Labor-HHS- Education bill could negatively impact CNCS as appropriators look to make offsets for high priority programs, such as increased funding to combat Ebola.

The proposed funding for the Labor-HHS-Education bill (the CNCS bill) is $153.05 billion and is about a $3.75 billion or 2% cut from the current FY 2015 level of $156.8 billion.  This would mean that the appropriations committee would have to consider reducing funding recommendations within the various programs and agencies within the Labor-HHS-Education account including CNCS.

There is mounting bipartisan support both in the House and Senate to possibly raise the spending caps, so there may be some relief ahead, but it is not guaranteed. The appropriations process will continue throughout the summer and things will continue to develop.

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