On Thursday, July 13, the House Subcommittee on Labor-Health and Human Services-Education approved an appropriations bill that would cut FY 2017 funding by an additional $5 billion. While it provides an increase of $1.1 billion for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), rejecting the President’s request of severe cuts, it does little else for human services and children’s services. It increases the $2.8 billion in child care funding by a few million dollars and does the same for Head Start at $9.2 billion. According to Ranking Member for the Subcommittee, Congresswoman Rosa Delauro (D-CT), the funding level for HHS is not just $5 billion below the 2017 levels but when adjusted for inflation it is $30 billion below 2010 levels.
The action was part of a busy week in which the House Appropriations Committee jump-started their process by completing action on all 12 of their appropriations bills through the various 12 subcommittees. The House Committee is acting without a budget resolution and assuming a $5 billion cut to non-defense discretionary spending below was is established under the Budget Control Act (BCA). Non-defense spending is at $511 billion while the Defense Department is expected to get $621 billion. Because the BCA is written into law (unlike annual budget resolutions) if these funding levels were the final appropriations signed by the President, the sequestration trigger would be tripped in January 2018. Because non-defense spending is $5 billion below what was allowed in the BCA the across the board sequestration would not hit domestic programs but it could cut approximately $100 billion from defense. That means the House and Senate (including at least some Democrats) will have to negotiate along with the White House for a new spending level if defense hawks want that kind of an increase.
The House may attempt to wrap several bills together in an omnibus in the last week of July before the House break. There has been some talk of a “security” omnibus which could include: Defense, Military-Construction, Energy, Justice-State-Commerce, and the Legislative Branch or they could wrap all 12 together.