Senate leaders announced on Wednesday, February 7 that they reached a bipartisan agreement to lift the federal spending caps on defense and domestic priorities by a total of $300 billion for fiscal years (FYs) 2018 and 2019. If approved, Congress will be able to avoid a government shutdown when the current FY18 Continuing Resolution (CR) expires on February 8. The budget deal comes less than a week before President Donald Trump is expected to unveil his FY19 budget request to Congress. The funding deal could see initial votes in the Senate as soon as Wednesday afternoon, but passage in the House is uncertain. A short-term CR is likely needed to allow the Appropriations Committees to work out the final FY18 funding bills with the new spending caps.
The two-year budget agreement provides a significant increase for defense and domestic spending over the levels set in the 2011 Budget Control Act. Non-defense domestic spending would increase by $63 billion in FY18 and $68 billion in FY19. Defense spending would be increased by $80 billion in FY18 and $85 billion in FY19. The bill also includes significant funding for disaster relief, children’s health care, and fighting the opioid epidemic.
If the Senate passes the budget agreement, it will have to go back to the House for another vote. A number of Republicans and Democrats, however, may vote against the budget package. House conservatives oppose the increased spending, while House Democrats may oppose the agreement because it does not include a fix to protect “Dreamers” under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
Over the last several years, the low spending caps made it difficult for Congress to fully fund affordable housing and community development programs at HUD and USDA. If the deal is enacted, NLIHC and other housing advocates will shift their advocacy to focus on ensuring that HUD programs receive the highest funding levels possible in FY18 and FY19. For NLIHC’s analysis of the FY18 draft spending bills, see: http://bit.ly/2f8BPAK
Disaster Supplemental Funding
Senate leaders also agreed to provide $90 billion in a disaster aid package for communities impacted by the 2017 hurricanes and wildfires, including $28 billion in Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) funding. The overall package is nearly $8 billion above the House package, and it provides an additional $2 billion in CDBG-DR funds.
Of the $28 billion in CDBG-DR funds, $11 billion is slated for Puerto Rico, with $2 billion of that going to repair the island’s power grid. Another $12 billion in CDBG-DR funds would be used for disaster mitigation efforts.
NLIHC’s Disaster Housing Recovery Coalition (DHRC) urged Congress to enact as quickly as possible a robust disaster relief bill that ensures that all disaster survivors, including those with the lowest incomes, have a safe, accessible, and affordable place to live as they recover. We’ll share an analysis of the disaster spending bill soon.