News

Making Sense of Federal Budget News

With the passage of a bicameral budget resolution last week and the release of tax reform proposals this week, DC policymakers and advocates are focused on figures that end in billion and trillion. But what about the millions in OAA III B and SHIP funding for this year?

Let's start with the millions. As our October 12 Advocacy Alert details, advocates need to keep driving support for Older Americans Act, SHIP and other aging programs to their lawmakers NOW. Away from the splashy headlines, the final setting of appropriations levels for FY 2018 are being quietly negotiated between House and Senate committees. Since we want the final package to include the hard-won $14 million boost to III B in the House version and the Senate's level funding of the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP), we have to advocate! Please repost n4a's Facebook and Twitter posts on this advocacy campaign, use our grassroots tools to activate others in your community, and keep up the noise!
 
Now, back to the billions and trillions.
 
Congress has not passed those FY 2018 appropriations bills into law for several reasons, but the overarching challenge is that they don't want to have to adhere to the budget cap levels for FY 2018 discretionary spending, as dictated by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA). Many lawmakers are hoping for another one or two-year budget deal to raise those caps, which would make it easier for them to pass final bills without causing undue pain to a lot of popular programs. n4a supports a bipartisan budget deal to provide such relief from the too-austere BCA caps. If a deal isn't struck by December 8, when the current continuing resolution expires, we expect a short-term funding extension to be used to buy Congress more time.
 
So how does the FY 2018 budget resolution which was finalized last week fit in? Budget resolutions, which do not have the force of law, are supposed to be finalized in the spring, so appropriators can get to work over the summer, with all spending bills completed by October 1 at the start of a new federal fiscal year. Even when Congress doesn't pass a budget resolution, the appropriations process continues. However, this year, the Republican Congress was especially keen to agree to a budget resolution so that a once-obscure process known as reconciliation could be used to make passage of tax cuts easier to achieve. Our October 27 Legislative Update explains what the budget resolution's massive cuts to spending and revenue reductions from tax cuts may mean for aging programs.
 
Have questions? Reach out to our policy team Amy Gotwals and Autumn Campbell for more information.

Contributors