By Tom Branen, Chief Policy Officer, America’s Service Commissions (ASC)
Yesterday, the United States Senate passed a $1.07 trillion fiscal 2017 omnibus. Leadership on both sides hailed it as a major bipartisan legislative accomplishment. On Wednesday the House approved the omnibus spending bill on a 309-118 vote. President Trump is expected to sign the measure, which passed 79 to 18. It includes more than $15 billion in new defense spending and $1.5 billion in money for U.S. border security, ahead of a deadline to keep the government open past Friday.
The legislation comprises the 11 unfinished fiscal 2017 appropriations bills, providing updated spending instructions for most of the federal government.
The omnibus provides an annualized total of $1.07 trillion in base spending for fiscal 2017, or $1.16 trillion. It includes a $15 billion increase in supplemental defense spending, about half the amount sought by President Trump for the military. The funding is designated as Overseas Contingency Operations spending, which does not count against statutory budget caps.
CNCS funding was mostly aligned with the FY 2017 Senate Markup and received a total of $1.029 Billion.
Here is the breakdown of CNCS funding:
State Commission Grants receive a $500K increase. The Explanatory Statement (below) also directs CNCS to provide not less than $7,500,000 for training and technical assistance activities for State Commissions to expand the capacity of current and potential AmeriCorps programs, particularly in underserved areas.
With Congress directing $7.5 million for training funds to commissions and the $500,000 increase to the State Commission Grant, State Commissions received an increase of approximately $2.5 million for FY 2017 above FY 2016. The State Commission funding was the only increase CNCS received in the FY 2017 appropriations legislation.
We are incredibly grateful for the rock solid support and continued investment for service by the Congressional Appropriations Committee leadership and their staff; especially Senators Cochran, Leahy, Blunt, and Murray; and Representatives Frelinghuysen, Lowey, Cole, and DeLauro. We are also grateful to members of Congress who voted for this legislation.
Thank you to our state service commission network who worked so hard this year to educate their members of Congress on the critical need for national and community service in their states. A special thanks to the ASC Public Policy Committee who spent the past year guiding and leading ASC’s policy priorities and outreach efforts.
With FY 2017 funding secured, we all can take a deep breath for the day, but tomorrow we pivot to the uphill battle that is the FY 2018 Appropriations process.
Explanatory Statement for CNCS
CORPORATION FOR NATIONAL AND COMMUNITY SERVICE
AmeriCorps State and National Grants. The agreement directs the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) to issue clear, extensive guidance as part oftheir fiscal year 2018 request for proposals for AmeriCorps grants outlining specifically how grantees can demonstrate and justify the need for operating funds as part of their professional corps grant.
Training and Technical Assistance. Under current law, CNCS has authority to set aside up to 2.5 percent of program funds for evaluation, training, and technical assistance. CNCS is directed to use this authority to provide not less than $7,500,000 for training and technical assistance activities for State Commissions, to expand the capacity of current and potential AmeriCorps programs, particularly in underserved areas.
Innovation, Demonstration, and Assistance Activities. The agreement does not include funding for the Social Innovation Fund.
Here is the bill language for CNCS:
CORPORATION FOR NATIONAL AND COMMUNITY SERVICE
OPERATING EXPENSES. For necessary expenses for the Corporation for National and Community Service (referred to in this title as CNCS to carry out the Domestic Volunteer Service Act of 1973 (referred to in this title as 1973 Act) and the National and Community Service Act of 1990 (referred to in this title as 1990 Act), $736,029,000, notwithstanding sections 198B(b)(3), 198S(g), 501(a)(4)(C), and 13 501(a)(4)(F) of the 1990 Act: Provided, That of the amounts provided under this heading: (1) up to 1 percent of program grant funds may be used to defray the costs of conducting grant application reviews, including the use of outside peer reviewers and electronic management of the grants cycle; (2) $16,538,000 shall be available to provide assistance to State commissions on national and community service, under section 126(a) of the 1990 Act and notwithstanding section 501(a)(5)(B) of the 1990 Act; (3) 22 $30,000,000 shall be available to carry out subtitle E of the 1990 Act; and (4) $3,800,000 shall be available for expenses authorized under section 501(a)(4)(F) of the 1990 Act, which, notwithstanding the provisions of section 1033 shall be awarded by CNCS on a competitive basis: Provided further, That for the purposes of carrying out the 1990 Act, satisfying the requirements in section 4 122(c)(1)(D) may include a determination of need by the local community.
PAYMENT TO THE NATIONAL SERVICE TRUST (INCLUDING TRANSFER OF FUNDS). For payment to the National Service Trust established under subtitle D of title I of the 1990 Act, $206,842,000, to remain available until expended: Provided, That CNCS may transfer additional funds from the amount provided within Operating Expenses allocated to grants under subtitle C of title I of the 1990 Act to the National Service Trust upon determination that such transfer is necessary to support the activities of national service participants and after notice is transmitted to the Committees on Appropriations of the House of Representatives and the Senate: Provided further, That amounts appropriated for or transferred to the National Service Trust may be invested under section 145(b) of the 1990 Act without regard to the requirement to apportion funds 22 under 31 U.S.C. 1513(b).
SALARIES AND EXPENSES. For necessary expenses of administration as provided under section 501(a)(5) of the 1990 Act and under section 1034 1 504(a) of the 1973 Act, including payment of salaries, authorized travel, hire of passenger motor vehicles, the rental of conference rooms in the District of Columbia, the employment of experts and consultants authorized under 5 U.S.C. 3109, and not to exceed $2,500 for official reception and representation expenses, $81,737,000.
OFFICE OF INSPECTOR GENERAL. For necessary expenses of the Office of Inspector General in carrying out the Inspector General Act of 1978, $5,750,000.
ADMINISTRATIVE PROVISIONS. SEC. 401. CNCS shall make any significant changes to program requirements, service delivery or policy only through public notice and comment rulemaking. For fiscal 15 year 2017, during any grant selection process, an officer or employee of CNCS shall not knowingly disclose any covered grant selection information regarding such selection, directly or indirectly, to any person other than an officer or employee of CNCS that is authorized by CNCS to receive such information. SEC. 402. AmeriCorps programs receiving grants under the National Service Trust program shall meet an overall minimum share requirement of 24 percent for the first 3 years that they receive AmeriCorps funding, and thereafter shall meet the overall minimum share requirement as provided in section 2521.60 of title 45, Code of Federal Regulations, without regard to the operating costs match requirement in section 121(e) or the member support Federal share limitations in section 140 of the 1990 Act, and subject to partial waiver consistent with section 2521.70 of title 45, Code of Federal Regulations. SEC. 403. Donations made to CNCS under section 196 of the 1990 Act for the purposes of financing programs and operations under titles I and II of the 1973 10 Act or subtitle B, C, D, or E of title I of the 1990 Act 11 shall be used to supplement and not supplant current pro- 12 grams and operations. SEC. 404. In addition to the requirements in section 146(a) of the 1990 Act, use of an educational award for the purpose described in section 148(a)(4) shall be limited to individuals who are veterans as defined under section 17 101 of the Act. 18 SEC. 405. For the purpose of carrying out section 189D of the 1990 Act (1) entities described in paragraph (a) of such section shall be considered qualified entities under section 3 of the National Child Protection Act of 1993 (NCPA); (2) individuals described in such section shall be considered volunteers under section 3 of NCPA; and (3) State Commissions on National and Community Service established pursuant to section 178 6 of the 1990 Act, are authorized to receive criminal history record information, consistent with Public Law 92544.