House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) released the House summer schedule at the end of May. He expects a month full of appropriations and other committee action through all of June with floor votes beginning on June 30th until the July 4th break.
It appears likely the House will begin committee action on appropriations starting on July 6-17, 2020. The remaining days are reserved for floor votes until the end of July. The Appropriations Committee will have to move12 bills through a subcommittee and then full committee before going to a floor debate and vote. The House Majority Leader said he expects the work to go long and late into those end of June and July days. The House is still scheduled for their August break to start on July 31st, but he warned the House could stay into August if they still need to complete their work on appropriations. In addition to the 12 appropriations bill that must be passed, the defense appropriations require passage of an accompanying Defense Reauthorization bill.
The Senate Appropriations Chair, Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL), has not set any specific timelines, but he has said in the past he expects the Senate to begin in the third week of June. Technically the Senate acts on what the House passes since the constitution sets the House as the originator of appropriations. It is not clear what either House will do as far as budget caps. We are still in the last year of ten-years of annual budget caps. Those caps were re-negotiated last year, allowing a slight increase from this year’s 2020 funding levels. How any of this plays out is uncertain since Congress has passed four coronavirus relief bills with a fifth one likely coming. Earlier in the pandemic, some appropriations staff were indicating that budget caps would stay in place, but there are also various rumors that they could separately deal with certain appropriations such as veterans program spending or the National Institutes of Health (NIH) separately and then act on the remaining bills under the existing caps. That could free some budget space. Coming appropriations will require increases in specific areas in reaction to COVID-19 as the FY 2021 budget will run into September 2021.
At the start of the pandemic, CWLA re-submitted our original 2021 appropriations request with a highlight of our initial request that CAPTA state grants and the CB-CAP grants be funded at the House’s proposed authorization level of $270 million each. Currently, CAPTA is at $95 million, and CB-CAP is at $55 million, although advocates, including CWLA, are seeking much more under a COVID-19 pack. CWLA also highlighted our original early spring request that the education and training vouchers be fully funded at $60 million for the first time in its 20-year history. Again, here advocates are seeking much more under a relief measure.
Regardless, both funds should be fully funded in light of the post-impact of the pandemic/depression.
The CWLA April recommendations for the next COVID-19 relief legislation are included in the CWLA’s letter along with this descriptive letter of child welfare needs sent to Capitol Hill earlier this year. Here is a video diary from CBS News on COVID-19’s impact on the child welfare and human services field. The video diary which CWLA members helped to facilitate highlights the significant role that child welfare workers play. Take the time to view this nine-minute video diary of some of the dedicated child welfare workers providing vital services to children and families across the country. We have created an action alert for you to share the five-minute version of this video diary with your Members of Congress. It is vital that Congress see what these essential workers are doing every day. To take action, click here.