RSVP Budget and Appropriations Update:
Washington is focused on something other than funding and potential government shutdowns. The Congress and the country are focused on providing relief to storm damaged areas in Texas and Florida, tax reform, immigration, and North Korea.
Congress agreed to a three month Continuing Resolution (CR) that postponed final funding decisions for FY 18 until December 8, raised the debt ceiling for three months, and made a down payment on hurricane relief funding for Texas.
Can a Congress, which has been unable to achieve virtually anything of consequence all year, address all of these issues in the three months of 2017 that remain? The correct answer seems to be that nobody knows.
What we do know is that both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees have approved Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations bills, which fund froze funding for the Corporation for National Service, including RSVP, and the other two Senior Corps programs, at the FY 17 level. The Congress did not follow the Presidentís proposal to eliminate the Corporation.
A few key points about the rest of the year:
1. There is no bi-partisan budget agreement in place that undoes the sequester levels. The caps on defense and non-defense spending remain in place.
2. The Administration requested a $54 billion increase in defense spending and an equal cut in domestic spending. The spending caps preclude an increase of that magnitude. An increase in defense spending requires that the defense cap be raised. Such a move is likely to require that the cap on non-defense spending also be increased.
3. There is a wide difference between the House ands Senate Labor HHS bills. The gap is sufficiently wide that many doubt that the differences can be bridged. Barring a new agreement to raise the caps a long-term CR may be in the offing.
4. Experts believe that we are facing a binary choice: either a budget agreement or a CR that will run for the entire year.
In Hill meetings this week, we found significant bi-partisan support for RSVP and national service. But, the Congress continues to confront hard choices about funding. That is why we need to continue to educate Members of Congress about the vital role that RSVP plays in communities across the country.
KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK:
Members of Congress will recess in October and November. Invite them to see your program. Visit their offices.
Let your Members of Congress know if you are involved in disaster prevention, relief, or cleanup.
Emphasize issues like education, independent living, and supporting military families.
Promote your program on social media.
Send letters to the editors of your newspapers.
We have achieved some success but we cannot stop now because final funding decisions for FY 18 must still be made.