The House Appropriations Committee acted on a Labor Department-Health and Human Services-Education Department bill last Wednesday.

For the most part, the smaller child welfare programs that are dependent on the annual appropriations were flat funded. CAPTA state grants, CAPTA discretionary grants, Child Welfare Services, Promoting Safe and Stable Families (PSSF), we’re all funded at last year’s level. The Committee proposal funds the Court Improvement Program (CIP) at $10 million instead of the full $30 million because the mandatory funding is dependent on a reauthorization of the Title IV-B PSSF program.

As is always the case, the entitlements of Foster Care, Adoption Assistance and Kinship/subsidized guardianships are not appropriated but set by state demand and eligibility for children and they are projected to increase.

Some have looked at the projected increase in Title IV-E Foster Care to $5.5 billion and Adoption Assistance to $2.8 billion and compared it to some of the up-front and intervention services such as PSSF and claimed this Administration (or any other Administration) is making a conscious choice to fund out of home care over intervention and prevention. In fact, the Title IV-E Foster Care, Adoption Assistance and IV-E Kinship Care figures are merely projections of future costs based on the entitlement/eligibility and not a policy choice. The latest calculation is that Foster Care at $5.537 billion will be approximately $500 million more than the 2017 final numbers but last year the final numbers for 2017 had been set at $5.3 billion. All of which highlights that the Title IV-E totals are projections and they will change as claims are adjusted over several years.

For more specifics, the CWLA Budget Chart can be viewed on the LEGISLATIVE INDEX.

Overall the appropriations bill includes cuts in 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.

In terms of after school programs the House did reject the elimination of the 21st-Century After School program however they did cut funding by over $100 million of dollars which puts it back to a level of $1 billion. They also cut back the Promise Neighborhoods down to $60 million after the increase to $73 million this year and rejected the Administration’s increase for the Maternal and Child Health Block Grant and instead maintain it at $641 million.

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. That flat funding will likely reduce access to both services at the local level. 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.

As far as the overall House appropriations process that seemed to change. Last week there was talk by the leadership that they could bundle all 12 appropriations together and debate them on the floor. After an amendment process member would vote the one bill out of the House before they leave for the August break. That now seems unlikely. To put all 12 bills on the floor in an open amendment process will expose several programs to controversial cuts or increases. In addition, there would seem to be enough divisions between conservatives and less conservative members of the Republican caucus that they would not have the votes to approve all 12 appropriations bills in one giant bill.

The House leadership now plans to debate and vote on a “security measure.” The security measure would include items such as the Defense Department, Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and the Legislative Branch budget (the legislative budget includes Capitol Hill Police, thus the security issue).

The House is 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 $75 billion from defense.

The Senate Appropriations Committee last week approved funding ceilings that will allow for $518 billion for non-defense spending and that is on par with the 2017 appropriations and slightly above the BCA. That approval by Republican leadership sent a message that they were not in line with what the House is proposing.