The House and Senate will return from their Presidents’ Day recess this week without an agreement on the four funding bills that expire on March 1st, 2024, the end of this week. As previously reported, the House and Senate leadership were able to agree on topline numbers for the total FY 2024 budget that closely mirrored the Fiscal Responsibility Act, the compromise legislation negotiated between President Biden, Senate Majority Leader Schumer (D-NY) and then-Speaker of the House McCarthy (R-CA).

These topline numbers amount to almost flat funding for nondefense discretionary (NDD) programs, which is significantly higher than the toplines in the House-introduced bills, and somewhat lower than the Senate versions of the bills.

It was also announced at the end of January that the Appropriations leaders came to an agreement on the allocations for each of the twelve funding bills, called the 302(b) allocations. These numbers haven’t been made public, but it is rumored that the Homeland Security bill will receive an increase over FY 2023 funding, which will necessarily mean that at least some of the other bills will get a lower funding total than last year. One of the key sticking points at this time is the issue of policy riders – House Republicans have included harmful policy changes in every one of their appropriation bills drafts addressing issues like abortion, LGBTQI+ programs and rights, climate change, and more. While Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) continues to push for the inclusion of some of these conservative policies, Democrats in both chambers and Senate Republicans remain opposed to these riders.

Advocacy groups continue to push for the highest possible allocations for programs they care about.

National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) has this action alert urging Congress to protect and expand funding for child care, which has suffered a significant set-back with the expiration of COVID relief funding this fall. The Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) has this action alert requesting that Congress prioritize full funding for the WIC program, which is projected to have a shortfall in FY 2024 without a significant increase in funding. And the National Head Start Association is asking stakeholders to use this webform to ask lawmakers to reject cuts to Head Start.

At the same time, the Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act has passed the House in an overwhelmingly bipartisan vote but has stalled in the Senate, where Finance Committee Republicans have taken issue with the “lookback” provision, where a family could opt to use the prior year’s income to calculate their CTC amount. This provision could help families with low incomes that unexpectedly or unavoidably have a change in their income in a given year; the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities released this paper explaining the provision.

The upcoming appropriations deadlines provide the best vehicle for passing this bill, if it can muster the support it needs in the Senate.