Republican negotiators were getting closer to reaching an agreement on a concurrent budget resolution or one resolution that combines the House and Senate versions (H. Con Res 27 and S. Con. Res. 11 ). Regardless of that negotiation the appropriations committees were beginning the process that should require them to pass 12 separate bills by October 1. The appropriations committees have been working on their “302b” allocations, a technical term that refers to how each of the 12 bills and committees will divide the $1.017 billion in discretionary spending that includes both domestic and defense programs.
While there have been some hints that members of Congress would like to raise the budget and sequestration caps set a few years ago, for now it looks like they are starting with that same trillion figure. The President has proposed an increase of $38 billion for domestic spending and an equal increase for defense but there has been no suggestion yet that Congress will go along. The two budget resolutions would dramatically increase defense spending by approximately $90 billion but they do that by labeling the spending as “emergency” spending in an effort to avoid raising the overall spending caps.
At this point it appears that the allocation for the all-important Labor-Health and Human Services-Education Departments (Labor-HHS bill) will remain at current spending levels for Senate appropriators. In the House it looks like they will attempt to reduce the allocation for Labor-HHS by approximately $3 billion
The Labor-HHS bill covers a number of small child welfare and child abuse prevention programs including Child Welfare Services ($269 million) Promoting Safe and Stable Families ($335 for 4 core services), the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) state grants $25 million, the discretionary grants $29 million, and the Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention (CBCAP) at $40 million. All programs have been cut through the past several years as a result of the across the board/sequestration cuts. A proposal to reduce Labor-HHS funding by $3 billion will likely make these programs more vulnerable to cuts. Even under the Senate allocations that would freeze overall spending, there is pressure to increase funding in other vital and more popular programs such as education K-12 funding and health research through the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
There doesn’t seem to be a likelihood that a budget resolution will replace the caps, that could happen later in the year when we get closer to the October 1 appropriation deadline and start of the fiscal year.