With some proposing that we defund programs that have not been reauthorized, the Congressional Budget Office issues regular annual reports of how many programs have not been reauthorized.

Congress frequently fails to meet the window to reauthorize programs.  An occurrence that seems more frequent in recent congresses.  In January 2016, the CBO released, Unauthorized Appropriations and Expiring Authorizations which indicated that more than 250 programs had expired or were about to expire in 2016.  Total funding for these programs amounted to more than $310 billion.  The Defense budget is unique since a defense reauthorization is adopted each year along with the appropriations. It is not included in this report.

Generally speaking, programs are authorized and reauthorized every five years if the system is functioning.  Programs that are discretionary or that require an annual appropriation are to be authorized by one committee with jurisdiction and then the appropriation committee will take that authorization and guidance and appropriate funding every fiscal year.  An authorizing level is not binding and frequently appropriators will fund programs at different (usually lower) levels.  The five-year authorizations are intended to make structural changes to a program and provide an oversight and opportunity to make changes and reforms.  The annual appropriations are intended to allow Congress to make judgements on just how much money can be provided based on that law’s authorization and structure.

Programs that are mandatory are different in that they may require a reauthorization but funding is written into the law.  Prime examples of these programs are the new home visiting program and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). With mandatory funding, Congress usually sets a funding level for each of the five years the legislation or law covers. A few of the key unauthorized human service programs left over from last year and expiring this year include:

  • Adoption and Kinship Incentives Bonus Fund
  • Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) includes:

Community-Based Child Abuse and Prevention,

Family Violence Prevention Fund,

Adoption Opportunities Act and

the de-funded Abandoned Infants program

  • Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)—Mandatory-not appropriated
  • Child Welfare Services, (Title IV-B)
  • Head Start
  • Healthy Start
  • Higher Education Act
  • Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention and Treatment Act (JJDPA)
  • Maternal, Infant and Early Childhood Home Visiting (MIECHV)—Mandatory- not appropriated
  • Lifespan Respite Care Act
  • Promoting Safe and Stable Families (Title IV-B) Mandatory & appropriated, includes:

Court Improvement program

Regional Drug Partnership Grants

Workforce/Casework Visits Funding

  • Runaway and Homeless Youth Act
  • Ryan White Act