Senate Appropriators Approve $3 Million Increase for AmeriCorps, Level Funding of Other CNCS Programs for FY 2019

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On Thursday, June 28th, the Senate Appropriations Committee advanced the FY 2019 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor H) appropriations bill. The committee-approved funding measure contains $179.3 billion, an increase of $2.2 billion above the FY 2018 level, in base discretionary funding for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and Related Agencies.

This bill includes $1.1 billion in funding for the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS).

It passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, 30-1. The bill now goes to the full Senate. The bill’s passage marks the earliest the committee has completed consideration of its appropriation bills since 1988.

We at America’s Service Commissions (ASC) and the States for Service (S4S) Coalition are thrilled that this bill expands AmeriCorps funding by an additional $3 million, the highest funding amount in its history, and fully funds the rest of CNCS programs at the FY 2018 level. There was a small decrease in funding for the Trust, although the Committee recommendation reflects the estimated funding needed for the Trust. It maintains strong funding amounts for state commissions in both the State Commission Grant and the Commission Investment Fund.

Highlights for CNCS include:
$415 Million  – AmeriCorps State National (represents $3 million increase – highest level in history)
$17.538 Million – State Commission Grants (level funding from FY18)
$8.5 Million – T/TA to State Commissions (Congress directed per legislation language; level funding from FY18)
$5.4 Million – Volunteer Generation Fund (level funding from FY18)
$92.4 Million – AmeriCorps VISTA (level funding from FY18)
$32 Million – NCCC (level funding from FY18)
$202 Million – Senior Corps (level funding from FY18)
$83 Million – CNCS Salaries and Expenses (level funding from FY18)

Additionally, the Senate included our requested language for CNCS to fully implement and expand Fixed Amount Grants which will reduce unnecessary administrative burdens on current and potential AmeriCorps programs.

On June 15th, on the other side of the Capitol building, the House Appropriations subcommittee advanced its Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies legislation. The total allocation the House is providing for this bill did not change from fiscal 2018 to fiscal 2019 at $177.1 billion. It recommends funding for CNCS at FY 2018 levels. The full appropriations committee is scheduled to meet sometime after the 4th of July recess.

Both the Senate and House Labor HHS spending bills are expected to be taken up on the floor of both chambers, where if and when they pass, they would move to a conference committee for final deliberation.

Appropriators in both chambers hope to have this work concluded before the end of the fiscal year that ends on September 30, 2018. This would certainly be an achievement, as appropriations bills over the many cycles have not been completed until after a Continuing Resolution was required to keep government open after the end of the fiscal year.

A Senate vote on that fiscal 2019 package is likely to take place in the next few weeks. It would include the Defense, and Labor H, spending bills. In fact, some are speculating that Senate action could happen before senators leave town Aug. 6 for a week long break.

That bill which combines both Defense and Labor H spending for FY 2019 would make up two-thirds of all discretionary funding, most of which goes toward the Pentagon. That would make the package difficult for President Donald Trump to veto, even though the domestic piece of it, which includes health and education programs, would vastly exceed his own budget request.

Appropriators believe that this could be a win-win for Congress and the White House. Republicans could boast that the Department of Defense is safe from another Continuing Resolution and Democrats would have secured on-time funding for key domestic programs. Having this done before the end of the fiscal year is a rarity for the government in recent years also could avoid a knockdown funding fight just weeks ahead of the midterm elections.

This would mean we could have CNCS and national service programs fully funded by the beginning of October, despite the Administration’s efforts to eliminate it.

We will continue to update our members as this process continues to unfold.

Tom Branen
Chief Policy Officer
America’s Service Commissions

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