July 10, 2017

NARSVPD Government Relations Update

The Congress returns to Washington this week. It has plenty of work to do: complete health care, work on tax reform, and make progress on the FY 2018 appropriations process, which is well-behind schedule.

Nobody in Washington knows how the health care issue will be resolved and there is a growing feeling that tax reform will be every bit as difficult to accomplish. We do know that Congress must complete work on annual appropriations so the government can continue to operate.


There were important developments in the appropriations world. The House Budget Committee majority has indicated it will try to mark up a Budget Resolution for FY 2018 this week.  This will set spending limits for each Appropriations Subcommittee, including the Labor-HHS-Education Subcommittee responsible for funding the Corporation for National Service and Senior Corps.

It appears that the House leadership wants to proceed with a top line funding level for non-defense discretionary spending that is $5 billion below the FY 2018 sequester cap or about $8 billion below the FY 2017 enacted level. The decision by the House leadership to mark up bills based on the sequester cap means, in effect, that the President’s proposed $54 billion in non-defense discretionary cuts has been rejected.  In a sign that the votes are not there to support such a proposal, the so-called “Tuesday Group” of more moderate Republicans has come out in opposition to the budget plan and called for an increase in the non-defense discretionary cap level.  Rep. Charles Dent (R-PA) has sent a letter to Speaker Ryan (R-WI) calling for an increase in the caps.  According to a report in Politico, the letter stresses the need for bipartisan negotiations “to reach an agreement that sets spending levels for, at least, [FY] 2018.”    

However, rejecting the President’s budget proposal does not mean that all is well.
Since next year’s totals are lower than this year’s, Appropriators would still have to make cuts.   This has led to calls for a new budget deal that will raise the caps on both defense and non-defense discretionary spending. In addition to the Dent letter, the Democratic leadership in the Senate wrote Majority Leader McConnell and Appropriations Committee Chair Cochran on June 26 “we believe that a bipartisan and bicameral agreement is needed to replace the irresponsible post-sequestration limits on defense and non-defense discretionary spending …”

Barring such an agreement a Continuing Resolution of some length is inevitable.
The two most likely scenarios for Congress to complete fiscal year (FY) 2018 funding this fall are either an agreement to raise the caps for defense and nondefense discretionary spending or a Continuing Resolution because Congress will not be able to agree on bills.  

Congress needs to hear from volunteers, community partners, and others who benefit from RSVP. It is easier than ever to make your voice heard. Thanks to our partners at Voices for National Service, we have access to an easy-to-use tool to tell Congress that you oppose the proposal to eliminate Senior Corps.

Just a reminder... take advantage of the month long August recess to meet with your elected representatives when they are in their Districts and States.  


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