While dealing with a debt ceiling, Congress must be on a fast track on the FY 2018 appropriations with the new fiscal year starting on October 1. To this point the dozen appropriations committees are in the first stages of hearings, something that would have taken place in February. To make matters worse, a budget resolution is supposed to be adopted to set spending targets for the 12 areas. Congressional leaders do not want a new resolution until they have used up the 2017 resolution and its reconciliation on a health care repeal bill. The House Budget Committee is expected to take something up by “mid-June.” That too could get complicated if new Budget Chair, Congresswoman Dianne Black (R-TN) announces she is running for Governor in which case House caucus rules require her to give up that position.
An idea that has been discussed within the House Republican caucus is that they speed up the appropriations process and then bundle each of the 12 bills into one big omnibus bill that would pass the House before the August break.
Such an approach would mean that there is some sort of internal spending targets among House Republicans (without a budget resolution). It would also mean only Republican votes would be used. Depending how severe cuts are House Republicans could face the same challenge of threading a needle as they did on the American Health Care Act.
If the House succeeds in moving such an omnibus it will crash in the Senate. Appropriations cannot be rolled into a reconciliation meaning Senators need at least eight Democratic votes.
However July ends, Congressional leaders have all but announced that there will be a continuing resolution on October 1 to keep the government running. There is one exception, if there is a government shutdown as the President has suggested. Regarding some of the biggest eliminations and cuts in the budget, many would have to be done through a reconciliation as they involve mandatory programs. Some of the key big Administration cuts that could happen in appropriations include, Elimination of the 21st Century Afterschool Learning Centers, elimination of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), elimination of the Community Services Block Grant (HHS) and elimination of the Community Development Block Grant (Housing).
Programs that can only be cut (under authorization and committee jurisdiction rules) by non-appropriations committees include: elimination of Social Services Block Grant, cuts to Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF), cuts to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP-food stamps), cuts or conversion of Medicaid.
For a further examination of the budget in some of the key child welfare and children’s issues you can read a budget chart of key child welfare services and a more detailed description on this budget summary.