The annual Congressional Appropriations process begins with the introduction and consideration of 12 annual spending bills, each focused on one or more areas of Federal spending. The bills are put together by the subcommittees of the Senate and House Appropriations Committee, each responsible for defined policies. After approval by the full Appropriations Committees, the bills advance to floor consideration and passage by the respective Houses. After differences are reconciled, final legislation is sent to the President. This all needs to happen before the beginning of the next Federal Fiscal Year, on October 1.
Or not. In which case, a Continuing Resolution (or several) keeps the Federal Government up and running.
Last week, the House and Senate Appropriations Committee’s began the process.
In the House, several Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 spending bills have already received subcommittee consideration including the Energy-Water bill; the Interior-Environment bill; the Transportation-HUD bill; and the Commerce-Justice-Science bill. The Senate is expected to follow suit this week with subcommittee consideration of those bills, plus the Agriculture bill.
For local governments, the hard-fought federal funding increases for local priorities, enacted in FY ’18, are generally maintained in the FY ’19 drafts. According to the analysts at the National League of Cities (NLC), highlights include:
The House bill largely rejects the President’s proposed cuts, providing level funding at $251 million for Weatherization and $2.1 billion for the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE), a decrease of $200 million over FY ’18. The bill includes several policy riders, including one to repeal the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Clean Water Rule.
The House bill provides an increase to the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA)–providing $75 million, compared to $63 million in FY ’18, and funds the Clean Water and Drinking Water State revolving loan fund programs at FY ’17 levels, $1.393 billion and $863 million, respectively. The bill also includes policy riders, including one to repeal the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Clean Water Rule.
The House bill provides $447 million for grant programs to help stem the tide of overdoses resulting from opioid abuse, including drug treatment, prescription drug monitoring, overdose-reversal drugs, and at-risk youth programs. The bill also increases resources for programs that reduce violent and gun crime, including $75 million in grants to states to improve their records used in background checks, $50 million in grants to reduce gang and gun violence, $100 million as authorized by the STOP School Violence Act, $100 million for youth mentoring programs, and $20 million for police active shooter training.
The House bill would increase funding for affordable housing and transportation programs that, according to committee documents, would represent another significant down-payment on infrastructure. The biggest increase is a $1.7 billion, or 68 percent, increase in highway grants to states, to $4.25 billion. The Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development, or BUILD, program (formerly known as TIGER Grants) would be cut under the proposal, from $1.5 billion to $750 million.
On the affordable housing side, the bill would maintain last year’s increase for CDBG for a total of $3.37 billion; as well as level funding for homeless assistance grants, public housing, and Choice Neighborhoods. The bill excludes most of the controversial policy riders sought by the White House including minimum rent increases, new work requirements, and time limits on assistance.
Local officials can track the development of the FY ’19 spending bills by visiting NLC’s Budget Tracker, which tracks dozens of federal programs important to cities across all federal agencies.
Contact: Jon Moran, Senior Legislative Analyst, firstname.lastname@example.org, 609-695-3481, Ext. 121.