The new Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) was working with his Democratic counterpart in the Senate, Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) to determine a path forward on 2019 appropriations.

Shelby, who took over this month when Senator Thad Cochrane (R-MS) retired due to health issues, wants to move appropriations bills to the Senate floor in some regular order. That would mean actual floor debate with amendments. He also is attempting a schedule that will allow the Congress to pass at least some bills before the start of the fiscal year starts on October 1. It is expected that a CR would be needed by October 1, with some appropriations completed and others near completion. The two Senate leaders met to discuss a process with the next step being allocating the overall spending between the 12 different appropriations bills. If a best-case scenario does allow some bills to become law by October 1, there is already an acknowledgement that the two most controversial bills, Labor-HHS-Education and the Defense Department bill will go last.

At the same time, their appeared to be signals from the White House that a package of proposed rescissions or cuts may be significantly smaller than the $60 to $30 billion being floated for a few weeks. That may be a reaction to some of the negative feedback the Administration’s efforts have received on Capitol Hill.

CWLA has submitted public testimony to the House Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee with public testimony for that subcommittee due this April 26. The CWLA testimony calls for Congress to fully fund the two Title IV-B programs (Child Welfare Services and Promoting Safe and Stable Families) to help build up more model programs that could eventually qualify for funding under the Family First Act. CWLA also calls for significant increases in CAPTA and the Community-Based Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention (CB-CAP) programs to better address the prevention of child abuse.

The Congress doesn’t need a budget resolution because of the agreed to spending levels spelled out in the February budget agreement. Although not as generous as the increases for FY 2018, the approximate $18 billion increase for non-defense spending might make progress on appropriations possible for this summer.

For a CWLA chart of spending on the pre-rescission 2018 numbers go here.